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Framing can help you communicate strong messages
By Kim Harrison,
Consultant, Author and Principal of www.cuttingedgepr.com
Framing is a technique of focusing the attention of people within a field of meaning. How something is presented (the ‘frame’) influences the choices people make. Framing is a form of agenda-setting. It is the process by which a communication source defines and constructs a public issue. A framing example is the ‘war on terror’ (it is not actually a war, but the term has been used, probably with the aid of audience research, by the US administration to generate support for its actions).
Framing can be conveyed through:
According to Lakoff, metaphors are contained in most of the concepts of everyday life and should be used in communication activities.
He gives the example of an environmental group whose research found there are large numbers of toxic chemicals in our bodies and tried to publicise this in terms of statistics. The media response was minimal. Lakoff said the program should have been reconceptualised in a campaign called ‘Be Poison-free’. ‘Poison’ is a strong, emotive word that implies someone must be the poisoner. It makes you look at who is doing the poisoning – the companies that allow humans to be exposed to chemicals.
If you are working on media strategy, a speech or an issue, you should note the power of using metaphors and images in framing concepts for more effective communication. You can extend concepts into sub-concepts. For instance, if you frame your organization as a ship on a voyage, you can extend this frame or metaphor into related travel or progress sub-frames or themes such as steering the best course, avoiding the hazards (think Titanic here!), staying afloat, delivering cargo, keeping a good lookout for shoals and rocks, arriving safely at the destination, etc.
About the Author
Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website, www.cuttingedgepr.com, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.
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