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Prevent Child Abuse Nebraska Public Awareness How-To Presentation


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This presentation will show child abuse prevention councils how to effectively execute public relations and public awareness campaigns to prevent child abuse.

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Prevent Child Abuse Nebraska Public Awareness How-To Presentation

  1. 1. Reframing the Message: Communicating Effectively withthe Media and the Public on Child Maltreatment
  2. 2. Overview  Media’s Function in Society  Reframing Research: Study of Past & Present  Media Effects  Recommendations for Change  Media “Basic Training”  Exercise!March 22, 2013
  3. 3. Media: What is its Role?  Provides political/policy info. to society  Provides raw intelligence to policymakers  Conveys public opinion  Serves as a forum for debating policy alternatives  Serves as a channel for intra-/intergovernmental communication  Checks government in a watchdog capacity  Used in political showdowns (pawn/scapegoat)March 22, 2013
  4. 4. How Do Americans Get Their News?  Pew Media Research says: – Television (75%) – Daily newspapers (63%) – Radio (46%) – Internet (61%) (at least once per week)March 22, 2013
  5. 5. Media Effects  “How the mass media psychologically influence members of society into perceiving things in a certain way.”  Four types: – Agenda setting – Priming – Framing – PolicyMarch 22, 2013
  6. 6. Agenda Setting  The news media establish what are the MOST salient policy matters facing society – Indirect: Influence the public’s opinion – Direct: Influence policymakers directlyMarch 22, 2013
  7. 7. Priming  The media “prime” the criteria that are used to judge and evaluate government officials & politicians. – People simplify their understanding of others so that they can make snap judgments.March 22, 2013
  8. 8. Policy Driving  Media can influence and even DRIVE policy.  Once, the ability for media to drive policy was called “yellow journalism” – now called “CNN Effect.”  Stories are emotionally charged – moving, painful images, music and stirring interviews.  Example: Somalia and starvation in 1992.  Pres. Bush to the Pentagon: “I can’t watch this anymore. We have to do something.”March 22, 2013
  9. 9. Reverse CNN Effect  Sometimes emotionally-charged reports have the opposite effect: they cause apathy/policy inaction.  Images from war in Iraq, Lebanon: “It’s just the way it is, always has been, always will be. There’s nothing anyone can do to fix this.”March 22, 2013
  10. 10. Framing  How the media frames a political issue or incident affects the way the public reacts to it.  Robert Entman: To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text…March 22, 2013
  11. 11. Example…  Coverage of the Cold War: – Couched in terms of communist forces, whether or not communism was a major force behind the strife.March 22, 2013
  12. 12. More on Framing…  Stories are often framed as episodes/themes.  Themes: the blame is attributed to government policies, the economy…  Episodes: Blame the individual (i.e. -- Crime —is perpetrated by “bad people”, not societal factors).March 22, 2013
  13. 13. Reframing the Issue  Over the past five years, child abuse prevention experts have “sensed” a decrease in public interest on this issue.  Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America), along with communication scholars, have evaluated the effects of media and public awareness messaging on the issue of child abuse and prevention.March 22, 2013
  14. 14. Reframing the Issue  Meta-analyses: campaigns led by advocacy groups such as PCA America and the Ad Council since the 1970s have been effective in raising awareness of the existence of child abuse and neglect in America by nearly 80 percentage points.  Advocacy campaigns and the media have not been effective in motivating the public-at-large to engage in prevention activities and behaviors.March 22, 2013
  15. 15. Reframing the Issue  Traditional framing: adversely affected the public’s response and had actually become a barrier to mobilizing efforts on individual, societal and policy levels.March 22, 2013
  16. 16. A Barrier?  Media and public awareness campaigns have traditionally emphasized the sensational, horrific nature of child abuse and neglect without providing balanced coverage of potential or promising solutions.  Public viewpoint: child abuse is perpetrated primarily by intentionally abusive parents and sexual predators, and is therefore not an issue that can be changed by mainstream individuals and families.March 22, 2013
  17. 17. Negative vs. Positive  PCA America studied national TV and radio coverage of from 1993-2002 – Child abductions (667 stories) – Molestations (282 stories) – Prevention programs (67 stories) – Positive parenting (4 stories)March 22, 2013
  18. 18. Apathy  The result of this imbalance is public apathy, in which individuals feel powerless against such an overwhelming, prevalent problem that seemingly has no solutions.March 22, 2013
  19. 19. Strategic Frame Analysis  2003-2004: PCA America, w/funding from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation  The FrameWorks Institute: Strategic frame analysis.  Make connections between public perceptions and the ways issues are presented and explained (or framed) in the mass media.  Once these connections are established and understood, communications professionals can develop new strategies to influence public thinking and behavior with messaging.March 22, 2013
  20. 20. Hypotheses  The public thinks about child abuse and neglect in terms of the most extreme and sensational cases, such as those that result in death or a shocking traumatic event. Similarly, neglect is seen more as a “child safety” issue, and is clearly not linked to abuse, which is seen as intentional.  While the public avoids criticizing parents and prefers not to be criticized or judged for their own parenting practices, they have little sympathy for abusive parents.  Most parents see “asking for help” as a weakness when it comes to parenting.March 22, 2013
  21. 21. Hypotheses  People feel as though they have no power to affect change on this issue, individually or systematically.  While most people recognize that they have the ability to report suspected abuse to authorities, they are reluctant to do so. Their reluctance is linked to a variety of factors, including fears of intruding on individual privacy and lack of trust in systems and officials.March 22, 2013
  22. 22. Results: April 2004  Report included findings from original and previous studies by A. L. Mailman Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child at Brandeis University.March 22, 2013
  23. 23. Child Abuse and Global Warming?  In both cases, advocates have been effective in raising awareness, but will not be able to advance to engagement or policy change without implementing new messaging strategies.  Moreover, both efforts are likely to “lose ground” in the public agenda if more emphasis is not placed on possible solutions.March 22, 2013
  24. 24. Positive Achievements  The public is concerned about child abuse and neglect.  Its concern and definition extends beyond physical abuse and includes emotional abuse.  People identify both abuse and neglect as types of abuse.  People believe abuse has lasting effects on children and society.  The public believes abuse is a common problem.March 22, 2013
  25. 25. Dominant Frames  News coverage is predominantly framed as horrible, criminal atrocities perpetrated by a “monstrous parent.”  The public concludes that the root causes of child abuse lie within individuals, not in external factors. Therefore, the only solution is to heighten distrust of others.  News coverage frequently attributes cause to the failure of child protective services. Rather than building a case for improving systems, this kind of messaging reinforces a widely held distrust in government, and promotes apathy rather than advocacy.March 22, 2013
  26. 26. Dominant Frames  The news emphasizes stories of “bad people” or sexual predators” who perpetrate child abuse, framing the issue as one of consumer safety.  People respond negatively to stories that judge parents’ child-rearing decisions, largely because they feel these stories violate the “Family Bubble” – the line between home/family privacy and government.  Americans generally misunderstand child development, believing that a child’s mind is like an adult’s mind, and benefits from punishment (called the “self-made child” frame.)March 22, 2013
  27. 27. Recommendations for Reframing  Lead the communication or story with a strongly held value rather than “child abuse,” such as “children are the future,” “children deserve opportunities from the beginning.” This reframes the issue as one of societal rather than individual significance.  Outline solutions at the beginning of the story to promote the prevention concept and counteract public apathy on the issue.  Provide a clear definition of child abuse and neglect, being careful not to focus on an individual but on the ecological factors that can lead to these behaviors.March 22, 2013
  28. 28. Recommendations for Reframing  Demonstrate how programs policies are working to benefit children whenever possible.  Avoid providing vivid, dramatic details of individual cases, which only reinforces the perception that child abuse is an individual problem perpetrated by criminals.  There is no need to keep restating the numbers of cases. Americans know the problem is prevalent, and the media often inflates or overstates the figures to make a point. In fact, there is no need to keep emphasizing the prevalence of the issue at this point —it is time to deepen the conversation on the issue, now that the agenda has been set.March 22, 2013
  29. 29. Recommendations for Reframing  Emphasize and define neglect as the most common form of child abuse.  Increase coverage on the topic of child development to improve and deepen the public’s understanding.  Broaden the audience by having people other than parents to tell the story—have grandparents, program directors and relatives talk about the issue to break down the “Family Bubble” frame.March 22, 2013
  30. 30. Recommendations for Reframing  Describe parenting as a learned skill for everyone, emphasizing that all parents need education to develop strong skills.  Be cautious in framing calls to action that require people to act in ways that make them uncomfortable (such as turning in friends and neighbors). These messages reinforce a common belief that there is no positive action a citizen can take against child abuse and neglect.March 22, 2013
  31. 31. Noticed Any Changes?  Move from “Child Abuse Prevention” to “Positive Parenting”  Strengthening Families  Born Learning  Parenting CountsMarch 22, 2013
  32. 32. Still the Same? Recent headlines:  “Sitter Arrested in Death of Toddler”  “Child’s Death Spotlights Daycare Regulations”March 22, 2013
  33. 33. What Can We Do?  Reframe OUR OWN messages to the public and the media in particular  Become a resource to your local media  Learn how to handle questions, prepare talking points, drive the right messages (both to the media and the public)March 22, 2013
  34. 34. But HOW? Here’s a mini media bootcamp!March 22, 2013
  35. 35. What you should know…  How to prepare for a media interview  Recognize types of questions that could be difficult to handle  How best to answer media questions by media type  Understand how to lead in an interview  How to establish a trust relationship with all local media (don’t wait until a crisis or when you need something)March 22, 2013
  36. 36. Prepare  Don’t do the interview on-the-spot – Get help, find out background, make talking points  Understand your medium  Will it be taped or live?  How long will the interview be?  When is the reporter’s deadline?  What is this story about (angle)?March 22, 2013
  37. 37. Know your key messages  List them out: – A. – B. – C.  Add Supporting Messages – A. – B. – C.March 22, 2013
  38. 38. Know your key messages  List them out: – A. We need to let parents know it’s OK to ask for help – B. We have resources that can help parents – C. We help parents everyday—we want to help more and prevent abusive behaviors and patterns  Add Supporting Messages – A. We need more support, including funding – B. We need to let more people know we’re here in the community – C. Our program has been recognized for its outstanding outcomesMarch 22, 2013
  39. 39. Prepare more!  Anticipate: what are some of the worst/toughest questions they could ask you?  What will you say? How will you get them back to your main points?  Use your knowledge: Have some materials ready that you can email to them to support their story (trust me…they’ll use it!)March 22, 2013
  40. 40. Know thy Media Type  Newspaper/Internet—story will be longer, fact-filled, permanent. Pass-along value.  TV—stories are short and general (No more than 1:45. Reporters are on tight deadlines. 4 to 5 deadlines per day. Do lots of work in afternoons.  Radio—Very short (Unless you do a talk show interview). Average news story is :45. Deadlines all day long. Less emphasis on local stories.March 22, 2013
  41. 41. Caution! Potentially Hazardous. Speculative questions: “IF this happened, what would you have done?” “IF she is removed from the home, will she be better off?”March 22, 2013
  42. 42. Caution! Potentially Hazardous. Leading questions: “Aren’t you irate about this?” “Couldn’t they have done a better job assessing that situation?”March 22, 2013
  43. 43. Caution! Potentially Hazardous. Loaded questions: “Neighbors in the area said they had a feeling something was going to happen…yet no one did anything about it. What is your opinion on that?”March 22, 2013
  44. 44. Caution! Potentially Hazardous. Silence: (This is the best way to get you to speak off your points…let them break the ice. Don’t start talking just to break an awkward moment. Speak, then stop.)March 22, 2013
  45. 45. Caution! Potentially Hazardous. Labeling: “Is it fair to say that the system failed here?”March 22, 2013
  46. 46. Caution! Potentially Hazardous. Chummy: “Just between you and me, what do you really think about the way this was handled?” “Now that we’re done with the interview, tell me what you really think.” “I just need a few more quotes for my story…what can you tell me about last week’s incident…”March 22, 2013
  47. 47. Caution! Potentially Hazardous. False statements: “Since the home environment has been deemed unsafe, why not remove the children from the home now?”March 22, 2013
  48. 48. Some Ground Rules  Think before you speak  Speak naturally & avoid jargon  Avoid double-negatives  Always tell the truth  Stop talking when you’re done!  Keep in mind: TV and radio sound bytes average 7 seconds!March 22, 2013
  49. 49. 7 Seconds  Can you say it in seven seconds?  Don’t give a long rambling intro that might contain ideas that you DON’T want taken out of context.  “Our organization has been going through a major restructuring. We decided that we could improve our operations greatly. We has client satisfaction scores of 95% last year, and our community saw a 15% reduction in abuse cases. But, we still think we can do better.”  If you don’t like what you said, ask for another take.March 22, 2013
  50. 50. More Ground Rules  Always bridge back to your key messages and keep it on the positive:  Q: Wasn’t your agency set up to prevent situations like this?  A: Our agency has been very successful in reducing abuse cases in this community. We will benefit more and more people as awareness of our outstanding programs increases.March 22, 2013
  51. 51. A or B – Choose C  Don’t let the reporter give you a choice between two WRONG answers:  Q: “Was this the fault of the parent or the state?”  A: There are many factors that can lead to incidents like this one. Often, the parent is lacking support and isn’t sure where to find resources, and is even afraid to ask for help.March 22, 2013
  52. 52. No Comment  Never say: “No Comment!”  Instead, explain why you can’t comment.  “I really can’t comment on that until the case has been thoroughly reviewed. This is our policy. It’s designed to protect our clients.”March 22, 2013
  53. 53. Establish Trust  Get to know your local media.  Let them know that you are a valuable, reliable resource for community information.  Write op-eds. Send them news releases. Invite them to important events (Note: Important!)  Visit them, and send them “backgrounders.”March 22, 2013
  54. 54. Do Their Job  Send information in an easy-to-copy-and-paste format.  Send photos electronically (post them on a web site)  Set up a little media center on your site with your news releases  Do some Q and A sheets  Charts are nice, sidebars are even better  Send radio stations electronic sound bytes  Send TV stations video clips  Remind them that you are available to talk to them – offer to go on live (radio or TV)March 22, 2013
  55. 55. Exercise!  Your community has just had an unfortunate string of abuse cases that are being highly publicized (Three cases in three months)  You are a prevention expert in your community, working at a local community- based family support agency  Newspaper wants to do an interview with youMarch 22, 2013
  56. 56. First, YOU Ask Questions A B CMarch 22, 2013
  57. 57. Do you have time right now for a quick interview?  What’s your answer?March 22, 2013
  58. 58. Time for Key Messages  Remember about Reframing! – A – B – C – Anything else?March 22, 2013
  59. 59. Time to Interview  Q: “What’s going on? Why are these things happening? Is it because of our poor economy or the meth problem?  A:March 22, 2013
  60. 60. Time to Interview  Q: What should the local government be doing better?  A:March 22, 2013
  61. 61. Time to Interview  Q: How can your agency help?  A:March 22, 2013
  62. 62. Time to Interview  Q: Why is it that your agency doesn’t connect with local law enforcement and come up with a plan?  A:March 22, 2013
  63. 63. Time to Interview  Q: Is there anything else you want to say?  A:March 22, 2013
  64. 64. Sources  Media Power, Media Politics. Edited by Mark J. Rozell. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003.  Media Training Presentation by Meg Lauerman, University of Nebraska. Presented at Lincoln AMA Spring Conference, 2005.  PCA America: Reframing Child Abuse and Neglect for Increased Understanding and Engagement, 22, 2013