Framing your message is critical to your campaign. A message is the key piece of information you want to transmit to your audience.
You can send different messages to different stakeholders, but they should all lead to the same goal.
1. Define your message
An effective message should:
- be simple, easy to understand and as concise as possible, with only the most relevant points retained for clarity.
- explain the cause clearly, without ambiguities.
- emphasise the importance of the cause.
- tell people something new; something they have not yet thought about.
- be engaging, interesting, perhaps even shocking.
- be accurate and honest. If your audience feel you have misled them, you open yourself up to criticism and the validity of your entire campaign may be questioned. Find multiple sources and seek out experts, if required, to ensure that your message is clear, truthful and can stand up to criticism.
- be emotionally compelling. By connecting with the core values of your audience in a way that triggers a strong emotional response, you will be able to inspire new actions and behaviours.
- Articulate the need to take action
- Provide a solution.
When Oxfam International wanted to create a message that would encourage people to pressure their governments to invest in education in developing countries, they took evidence that showed that education reduces poverty levels, and developed this message: "Basic eduction helps break the cycle of poverty". However, when they tested this message on focus group audiences they found it did not motivate them to act. This simpler message received a much stronger response: "Education is every child's right".
2. Create a slogan
A slogan is the 'package' that the message comes in. A message can have several slogans, but a slogan is generally associated with just one particular campaign.
Slogans are more effective when they are:
- extremely concise; no more than one line. This is critical to the 'viral' aspect of the message, which will make people want to talk about it, pass it on or post it on Facebook.
- humourous, innovative, daring or memorable. these kinds of slogans are more likely to 'catch on' and lead to a greater possibility of action.
Watch this video by the environmental advocacy group Rainforest Alliance.
What is the message? What is the slogan? (Message: The rainforest needs protection; people should to take action by buying only certified products. Slogan: "Follow the Frog”.)
3. Test out your slogan on members of your target and/or participant communities, to see how they respond. Adjust it if necessary.
4. Make a call to action
All the media you create should state clearly what action you want people to take.
Generating awareness about an issue is good, but it is not this awareness itself that will create change. You have to be very strategic about your ‘call to action’, because it is this action that will bring about change.
- Example: Respect My Rights, a website created by Amnesty International, campaigning against poverty
- Message: poverty is a principal factor in human rights issues worldwide.
- Action: add your voice to an anti-poverty movement through a multimedia scrapbook.
A 'call to action' should:
- Be actionable! It should not be something people find extremely difficult to do.
- Suggest immediate and specific ways in which your audience can get involved.
- Provide options for different levels of engagement.
New Tactics in Human Rights provides good resources around strategy-building for human rights advocates as well as a workbook explaining different types of tactics that can be used.