Building Blocks of AMessage Symbols Emotions and Unconscious Framing and Naming Clear, Concise, Contrast, Convince Breaking Through—Sticky Repetition Context, Motivation and Competing Motivations Stay in Control—Choose your battlespace
Symbols Symbols come from our culture, our media, our history and our life experiences. Every symbol has a set of values and feelings associated with it that you can borrow.
"That will unleash the BarackObama as Abe Lincoln narrative.Lincoln delivered his "Housedivided" speech at that historicspot and the announcement is onLincolns birthday weekend.Obama is expected to vault overto Iowa, home to the first-in-the-nation 2008 caucus, after theannouncement. ‖Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun Times
Emotions and Unconscious People respond primarily to feelings. Feelings are usually not conscious right away. Most feelings are about people.
Framing and Naming When news happens, people look for meaning… …we tell them what the news means.Example GOP: Tax Cuts Grow the EconomyExample Progressive: Tax Cuts Take Food From theMouths of Poor Children in Order to give Millionairesa Tax Break
Four Cs Clear: You aren’t Shakespeare—you write for USA Today. Concise: I stop listening after a minute at most. Contrast: Why should I care if it is the same? Convince: Why is this important to my life? “Less is more.” Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Breaking Through is Hard Sticky = Memorable Find an Emotion and Drive it Home Surprise Us Confusion Flunks Structure the Story Repeat
Stay in Control A key goal of your work is to maintain as much control of the conversation as possible. You decide what you’re talking about. Don’t allow your opponent to control the conversation ExampleOption 1: Debate How to Cut the DebtOption 2: Debate How to Create Jobs
Exercise: The Message Box What We Say About What Opposition Says Ourselves about Themselves What We Say About What Opposition Says Opposition about Us
Online What’s different? Less personal. Less persistent. Most people are over consuming online.
EmailInfographic TwitterVideo Facebook Blog Website
Polling: What is it good for? A measurement tool. But polls aren’t fate IF you have a messaging theory for how to change them. Study history to learn about what shifts polls.
DIFFERENT MEDIA, DIFFERENT NEEDS Different parts of a story are appealing to different media. Print needs are different from TV needs are different from radio needs. Modify your pitch accordingly. 8/10/2012
PRINT Print reporters are DEADLINES looking for a compelling Call a newsroom between narrative arc for a story. 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Reporters most likely not in planning meetings or Specific local interest. working against a 5:00 p.m. deadline. Try to pitch at least a day Highlight the ―man bites before the event, though dog‖ newsworthyness – two is fine with a reminder why is this different from email the day-of. the everyday? 8/10/2012
TELEVISION Visuals are always the lead DEADLINES concern for television Doesn’t have time to focus on reporters. anything beyond the day-of. The person at a television station Duh. to talk to prior to an event is the Assignment Editor. But seriously, visuals are always Call the assignment desk early the lead concern for television (even if you get the night editor), reporters. between 6 and 8:30 in the morning, just to confirm that they received your advisory prior to Your pitch should lay out in its their morning meeting. first sentence the visuals you If you do want to try pitching have to tell your story. earlier than the day of, you can call the assignment desk or the Ideally, the visuals will also beat reporter after the morning meeting, between 10:00 a.m. and encapsulate local 3:00 p.m., but not in the hour or so involvement. before a noon newscast. 8/10/2012
RADIO News radio pitching is mostly DEADLINES similar to print pitching. Best time to call is early— Maybe you can mention if around 7:30 - 8:30 there will be interesting a.m., and then again ambient sounds, (i.e. after 10:00 a.m. chanting, etc.) but it’s less important. News directors, reporters and producers are often Talk radio is all about gone by the afternoon. relationships – esp. the compelling back and forth If a reporter is not able to between host and guest. attend the event, offer to have one of your There’s no substitute for speakers or interviewees building talk radio do a taped interview. relationships. 8/10/2012
ATTRIBUTION RULES FOR PRINT The single most important rule: never say ANYTHING to a reporter that you wouldn’t want on the front page of the paper. However, protecting sources is a key journalistic ethic. 8/10/2012
ATTRIBUTION RULES FOR PRINT That said, under journalistic ethics you can request to have something you say be: ―not for attribution‖ ―off the record‖ ―on background‖ For any of these to go into effect: You must tell the reporter BEFORE you say whatever you wish to be under these conditions, AND You must get verbal agreement from the reporter before journalistic ethics are binding. 8/10/2012
ATTRIBUTION RULES FOR PRINT ―Not for Attribution‖ Relatively straightforward. Means that the reporter can use the information you give them, but you cannot be sourced as a specific individual. The reporter may ask to clear with you a descriptive phrase, such as ―One representative of a community-based organization said…‖ 8/10/2012
ATTRIBUTION RULES FOR PRINT ―Off the Record‖ Means what you’re saying shouldn’t be written down by a reporter. Information should not be attributed to you in any form. 8/10/2012
ATTRIBUTION RULES FOR PRINT ―On Background‖ Useful for giving a reporter ―a tip.‖ Useful for relatively long technical explanations, which can be helpful to a reporter but where you don’t want to worry that every word is perfect. In general, best used for directing reporters to sources of information (people, reports, websites, etc.) where you don’t want to be seen as involved. 8/10/2012
ATTRIBUTION RULES FOR PRINT REMEMBER: These are just ethical rules, and journalists can and do break them all the time! Journalists MUCH prefer that you talk on the record wherever possible, especially post-scandals. If you don’t give notice BEFORE you talk, Journalistic ethics don’t bind the reporter, no matter what they say. If you don’t get verbal confirmation from the reporter BEFORE you talk, Journalistic ethics don’t bind the reporter, no matter what they say. THE KICKER No two reporters agree on the definition of any of these terms! 8/10/2012
ATTRIBUTION RULES FORBROADCAST The mic is always live. Live radio or TV is live. If you are being taped for later use, they can use whatever you say, but it is sometimes possible to let them give you another shot. Television and radio producers want good tv and radio. If you tell them that you can do it better with one more try, they may just let you. 8/10/2012
HELPFUL TIPS Never make anything up. Never use jargon or acronyms. Support your messages with anecdotes, statistics and soundbites. Speak in short sentences with pauses between them. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Repetition is good, improvising off-message is bad. 8/10/2012