Framing the message

Applying the six key elements 

Here are some goals and questions to consider when developing your frame using the key framing elements.

THE ‘WHAT’ AND THE ‘WHY’

The ‘WHAT’ and the ‘WHY’ of the frame is the message or narrative that describes the shared concern and/or strongly desired change, its importance, and the solutions needed to address and resolve it.

Goals Questions for Consideration
  1. To describe through a narrative the shared concern or desired change and how it relates to other issues or principles; and
  2. To expand how the concern is seen and how to resolve it by framing it as broadly as possible.
  1. What is the shared concern or desired change? 
  2. What is the root cause of the shared concern or desired change? How does it relate to current issues/trends/values?
  3. What is the impact of the shared concern or desired change? (Tip: think broadly/far-reaching)
  4. What is at stake if no action or change occurs?
  5. What steps has staff taken previously to address the shared concern or desired change? What was effective and why?
  6. What opportunities exist today to address the shared concern or desired change?
  7. What is the solution to the shared concern or desired change? What steps are needed? Who is responsible? 
NUMBERS

Data used to describe the narrative and indicate the importance and urgency of the shared concern or the desired change and the opportunities that will arise if it is addressed

Goal Questions for Considerations
To use numbers to support an understanding of the context, the potential gains (or positive outcomes) of addressing the problem, and the potential losses for ignoring it.

What data or other resources support the shared concern or desired change?

Which data support the context or narrative of the shared concern or desired change?

How should the data be interpreted and understood?

How can the data be used to support the narrative?

MESSENGER

The person who conveys the message or narrative. The messenger is as important as the message.

Goal Questions for Consideration
To gain acceptance by others for the shared concern or desired change

Who is the person (or people) who is knowledgeable, trustworthy and seen as credible among peers to be a spokesperson? 

Who is the person who has the skills to effectively communicate the message?

Who is the person who has direct experience of the shared concern?

Who is the person who has no perceived or actual conflicts of interest or biases that can distract from the message? (Tip: advocates can be spokespersons, but only if they are perceived to have an authentic vested interest in the shared cause)

VISUALS

The images used to trigger the same mental model or narrative as words when chosen carefully.

Goal Questions for Consideration
To convey the message and trigger emotional responses through images and other graphics. 

What images can be used to reinforce the message? (Tip: avoid stock images as they may promote stereotyping or distractions from the key concepts).

Are there images available that convey the shared concern, the optimism for the power of change, and the solution?  (Tip: consider the sequence of images to tell the story and emphasize cause and effect).

Is the layout considered? (Tip: images in the center of a page emphasize importance).

Are there images available of leaders, icons, or cultural symbols? (Tip: use images of these individuals attending an event for the change to signify its importance).

Are there images that convey the complexity or scope of the shared problem? (Tip: avoid images of one person only as this may not align with the scope of the problem and may suggest the problem is limited or isolated to only a few people).

METAPHORS

Analogies or familiar simple theories can be used to support the understanding of the message especially when the shared concern or desired change is complex and/or abstract.

Goal Questions for Consideration
To promote understanding especially when the concepts of the shared concern or desired change are new, complex, or abstract. 

Is there a metaphor, analogy, or simple theory that will support understanding and reasoning? (Tip: choose a metaphor carefully in terms of the audience and the broader context, such as patient safety. Be mindful of the meaning or interpretation of a metaphor and make sure they align with the message of the frame). 

TONE

the style, manner, philosophy and mood of the frame

Goal  Questions for Consideration
To apply a tone to avoid politicizing an issue or to persuade or put forth one position. 

Does the message have a non-partisan, impartial tone (i.e., the shared concern and/or strongly desired change is explained, its root causes are highlighted and possible solutions are offered in a neutral manner and without the opinion/position of the messenger)? (Tip: avoid politicizing shared concerns as people listen and respond differently when perspectives seek to divide a concern).      

Does the message inadvertently suggest or communicate a political undertone? (Tip: promote an attitude of ‘can-do’ and values of inclusivity and the greater good for all)

SOURCE: Adapted from Frameworks Institute. Framing Public Issues. 2005. Retrieved from Framing Public Issues | FrameWorks Institute