Sunday, October 24, 2010


According to "The Psychology of Climate Change Communication" by the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, framing is the setting of an issue within an appropriate context to achieve a desired interpretation or perspective. James Hoggan describes framing as mental shortcuts that helps us manage information and understand our too-complicated world in his book "Do The Right Thing."

I combined both of those definitions and interpreted framing as mental shortcuts that help achieve a perspective of our complicated world. When trying to persuade the public on any issue, public relations practitioners have to take into consideration that everyone has preconceived notions about everything. Putting the issue in a context that relates to the target audience will help them not only understand the issue but also retain and possibly act accordingly.

Ralph Benmergui,
veteran broadcaster and strategic communications adviser to the Green Party of Canada, states in the video below that one should frame a message around someone's core values. Watch this video and see how he frames a sustainability message.

Framing is important because it helps capture the audience's attention, and it explains what the issue is and how it relates to the public. Bringing the message close to home, or making it relatable, is the best way to make the message stick and creates behavioral changes. For example, instead of just telling your target audience that the climate crisis is real and humans are responsible, explain to them how their community is being affected by climate change.

CRED states that by framing climate change as a local issue it increases the audience's sense of connection and helps them better understand the climate crisis. CRED describes the benefits of framing as:
1. Frames organize central ideas on an issue.
2. Frames help communicate why an issue might be a problem, who or what might be responsible, and in some cases, what should be done.
3. Frames can help condense a message into useful communication "short cuts" and symbols: catch-phrases, slogans, historical references, cartoons, and images.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Do The Right Thing

I recently began reading "Do The Right Thing" by James Hoggan. It is a really great read so far. He begins by stressing the importance of credibility and that it cannot be created. It's built solely on performance. Hoggan defines public relations as the art and science of earning credibility and building goodwill among all those who are important to your business.

Hoggan developed a tactic called the "Hoggan approach," which he believes can help public professionals. They are:
1. Do the right thing.
2. Be seen doing the right thing.
3. Don't get #1 and #2 mixed up.
The public respects organizations or companies that are trustworthy much more than ones that are not. From a PR standpoint, being the stand-up guy when bad things happen looks better than trying to "put a spin on things." When you step up quickly, acknowledge that there is indeed an issue, give an apology and assure that it will not happen again, things will turn around rather fast. The goal is for your organization to state the crisis first. If the story is broken by some other organization, the public will assume that the issue was being covered up by your organization.

The public is more than likely to trust a company when it is seen doing the right thing. Companies that are actively engaged in the community attract an audience. Community service looks really good for organizations. Actions speak louder than words—cliché I know—but when the company is seen doing the right thing, their actions helps back the company up in a crisis situation. No, I am not stating that once a controversial issue comes out about your organization that you should jump in community service because this will not save you. Always being actively involved in the community helps take the pressure of the issue the organization is involved in.

Hoggan reassures his readers to not get the first two tactics mixed up. He states "do the right thing because it's the right thing to do." Do not engage in these tactics with a public relations mindset because the public will be able to easily distinguish between the two.

We all are aware of the BP Oil spill that occurred earlier this year. This caused an uproar in every community, especially the Gulf Coast because people along the Gulf were directly affected. Below is BP's latest commercial that I found on YouTube, and BP have successfully followed the Hoggan approach.