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Messaging 101: Crafting Your Message to Engage the Media (and Other Audiences) . March 18, 2011. Agenda for Today. Introductions and Housekeeping Framing the Message Why Messaging is So Important What Makes a Strong Message Understanding Your Audience

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Messaging 101 crafting your message to engage the media and other audiences

Messaging 101: Crafting Your Message to Engage the Media (and Other Audiences)

March 18, 2011

Agenda for today
Agenda for Today (and

  • Introductions and Housekeeping

  • Framing the Message

    • Why Messaging is So Important

    • What Makes a Strong Message

    • Understanding Your Audience

    • Developing Messages Around YOUR Issue(s)

  • Wrap Up

Getting attention is hard to do
Getting Attention is Hard To Do (and

“Content is not a scarce resource; attention is a scarce resource.”

Pete Cashmore, Founder of Mashable

It s all about the frame
It’s All About The Frame (and

Frames are mental structures that shape the way we think. As a result, they shape the goals we seek, the places we make, the way we act and what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions. In politics, frames shape our social polices and the institutions we form we to carry out our policies. To change our frames is to change all of this. Reframing is social change.

-George Lackoff, Don’t Think of An Elephant

Framing messages
Framing Messages (and

  • What are the common beliefs/ understanding/values of your issues?

  • What is the current conversation about this issue? Who is shaping the discussion and how is it playing out in the media?

  • How do the frames that people have affect policy?

  • How can the conversation be reframed to reflect a broader range of choices?

Bad framing pepco
Bad Framing: PEPCO (and

  • "Pepco acknowledged that it does not know whether the projects in the new plan will actually achieve its reliability goals because it had not fully analyzed them," the report said. "With this ready-shoot-aim approach a portion of the Company's planned capital spending is almost certainly poorly targeted."

  • Bob Hainey, a Pepco spokesman, disagreed with the consultants' conclusions about the reliability plan. "We don't feel like that is something that was just cobbled together," Hainey said. "We're spending millions in additional money to trim trees. We will probably have a discussion with them on that."

    Source: Washington Post A-1, March 8, 2011

Research internal and external
Research (Internal and External) (and


  • Resources and Capacity

  • Your reputation? Awareness quotient?

  • Academics or street fighters?


  • What is your reputation?

  • Timing issues?

  • What is the state of the conversation about your issue? Who else is working on this?

  • Who are your allies? Opponents? What are their resources?

  • How has your issue been portrayed in the media?

Research (and

  • Google News Is Your Friend

  • Look at how all sides are framing/talking about your issues

Audiences (and

  • Who do you need to reach and why?

  • What stake do they have in your issue?

  • Are they a supporter? A detractor? A connector and influencer? Neutral?

  • Are they movable on your issue, either closer to you or further away?

  • How do they get information?

  • Are they watching TV, reading newspapers; online? Word of mouth?

  • What influences them?

Types of audiences
Types of Audiences (and


  • Absolutely essentially to the success of your efforts

  • Board, Staff, Donors, Political Leaders, Government Agencies, Partners


  • Influences Primary Audience (media, think tanks, researchers, recognized and leading authorities on an issue)

Six questions to ask when crafting messages
Six Questions to Ask When Crafting Messages (and

  • Who is your audience?

  • What matters to your audience? What are their values and concerns as it relates to your issue?

  • What are your common values?

  • What are the barriers to people understanding/hearing your messages?

  • What is the action you would like them to take?

  • If they take this action, what changes and why is that in their interest?

Elements of framing

Source: Frameworks Institute

Six questions to answer when crafting messages
Six Questions to Answer When Crafting Messages (and

  • Who are you?

  • What’s the Burning Problem You Want to Solve?

  • What’s the Unique Opportunity (Urgency?)

  • What’s the Solution?

  • So What?

  • What’s the Action?

Case study madd

  • Who We are: Organization dedicated to stopping drunk driving and helping the victims of it.

  • Burning Problem—People are dying from drunk driving. It’s a major violent crime and many of the perpetrators are underage teens. Too many people are maimed, injured or killed. Too many families are destroyed.

  • What’s the Unique Opportunity – We have the tools to stop it.

  • Solution: Enforcement, Prevention, Technology.

  • So what? We can save lives; spare anguish.

  • The Action: Support the heroes who keep roads safe; turn cars into the cure; blow before you go.

Messaging triangle

Key Message


Core Message

Key Message

Key Message

Messaging triangle1


Safer Future by Eliminating Drunk Driving



Tougher Laws

What makes good messaging
What Makes Good Messaging (and

  • Clear, compelling messages give you the best chance to get your story told right

  • Messages are ideas that you want to convey

  • Messages are not sound bites, but sound bites reinforce and help convey messages

  • Messages must be repeated often to make impact

  • Stories help drive your message home; put a human face on your issue, create an emotional connection

What makes good messaging1
What Makes Good Messaging (and

  • Relevant

  • Concise

  • Memorable

  • Credible

  • Actionable

Madd messages
MADD Messages (and

  • We’re Saving Lives.

  • We’re eliminating a major violent crime, drunk driving.

  • We can achieve our goal by doing these three things:

    • Support the heroes who keep our roads safe

    • Turn cars into the cure

    • Blow before you go.

  • You Can Do Something.

    • Ask your representative to require interlocks for all offenders.

    • Learn the facts.

    • Sign the Pledge.

Messages that made a difference
Messages that Made A Difference (and

  • Change We Can Believe In

  • Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty

  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving

  • Race for the Cure

    Why have these been effective?

Resources: (and


  • George Lakoff, Don’t Think of an Elephant

  • Frameworks Institute

  • Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

  • Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say but What People Hear by Frank Luntz

    Media Relations

  • Media Relations Primer in your handouts

  • Guerilla PR, by Michael Levine

    Social Media