Narrative, Framing & Messaging

After you determine your goals, identified and prioritized your audiences, and reviewed the research, it's time to start framing issues, developing narratives, and creating messages. 

THE OPPORTUNITY STORY

To move hearts, minds, and policy over the long term, we need to energize our base, while also working to expand our constituencies. One way to do this is with a strong, values-based narrative like Opportunity for All, that can change the larger national conversation, shift the culture, and result in lasting change.

The ideal of opportunity represents specific positive values that we must reinvigorate. Opportunity means that everyone has a fair chance to achieve his or her full potential as a human being. It means equal treatment, economic security and mobility, a voice in decisions that affect us, a chance to start over after missteps or misfortune, and a sense of responsibility toward each other as a people. Upholding these values is not just good policy; it is among our inalienable human rights. Our government and institutions, as well as individuals, have an important responsibility to protect and expand opportunity for this and future generations.

Evoking the narrative of American opportunity does not mean appealing to blind nationalism or ignoring what happens outside our borders. Rather, it means understanding that most Americans simultaneously hold in their minds great hope and pride about what our country has to offer and real disappointment about what we’ve failed to do as a nation. Addressing both sets of beliefs is important to engage people in supporting change.

Principles

Research and experience across a range of social justice efforts point to several core principles for moving audience and inspiring action.  On most issues, we recommend using narratives and messages that embody these principles by:

  • Leading with shared values
  • Pointing audiences toward positive solutions 
  • Evoking familiar themes and metaphors
  • Telling a systemic story
  • Showing how it's about all of us, and
  • Building shared narratives.