Want to know how to frame communication about the government and the economy in a way that will be of benefit? Here is useful research that was presented at the conference Virtual Progress 2020 (Australian Progress) by Lily Spencer from Australian reMADE.
For the full presentation download the PDF from the yellow box below. Here is a sneak peek.
Most people defaulted to a very narrow vision of the role of government in the economy: taxing and spending, or making laws to regulate business… ‘interfering’ with private sector people who usually have the best solutions to people’s problems.
There is a real opportunity now especially to talk up what we can do through government to benefit people’s lives.
3 Bits of Advice from Research
- Tell your own story, not your opponents.
- Focus on real outcomes for people and planet, not dollars and cents.
- Talk about active, empowered government and what it can and should do.
|Our opponents’ story||Our story|
|Moral||You earn what you deserve.||We’re all in this together.|
|Values|| Competition, status, hierarchy,|
extreme individualism couched
as ‘freedom’, markets, money,
|Goal||Every individual has the right to|
thrive by their own effort if we
keep government out of the way
and let the market work its
|All people can live good
lives in a flourishing
natural world if
governments act in the
|Economy as natural/organic|
(patient, body, gods to be
appeased) and the people as
inorganic (widgets, factory cogs,
units of input and output).
|Economy as inorganic
People as organic
needing good conditions
to grow, live and thrive.
|Our message, their story|
|Our message, our story|
|The government says we can’t|
afford to extend JobKeeper to
everyone, or keep the rate of
JobSeeker high, because the
budget will go broke.
But that’s just not true. We can’t
afford NOT to look after everyone
properly, as ultimately the cost to
the economy will be greater.
|● We all need a strong social safety
net when times are tough. (Vision)
● But right now the Prime Minister’s
policy excludes certain people
from JobKeeper, and he’s about to
send JobSeeker back to poverty
rates. (Human made barrier)
● Good, responsible government
should expand JobKeeper and
maintain JobSeeker because it’s
the right thing to do. (Specific solution)
- The research shows that when most people hear criticism of ‘the government’ or even politicians, they understand it as ‘our system of democratic government isn’t working.’
- They are left to conclude that private corporations are the viable option for getting something done.
- When we point out the shortcomings of political leadership, focusing on what government should do conveys what they have done wrong, in a way that encourages people to think good government can do right. When criticising a government policy, program or project, or lack thereof, say ‘government can/ should do x,’ not ‘government has failed to y’.
|Government as the problem||Government as the solution|
|● By excluding casuals from the|
JobKeeper payments, the
government has failed to
provide for some of the most
vulnerable in our society.
● The government has failed
to take climate change
seriously and now they’re
pushing a gas-fired recovery.
|● The private sector has pushed a
million people onto casual
contracts. The government should
expand JobKeeper to make sure
everyone in our society is taken
● The next energy boom is going to
be renewable. Government can
move us past fossil fuels to
become the next global energy
Metaphors be with you
Use journey metaphors
We’ve seen how far we can go when we listen to experts, work together and put people first. The road ahead may have challenges, but we can do anything when we put our minds to it. What once seemed impossible — free childcare, homes for people who need them, raising the rate of income support — now seems obvious. So where do we want to end up on the other side of this?
Use building metaphors
Let’s lock in and build on the pollution reduction gains we’ve made during this time. Australia has the tools to become a green tech powerhouse. We know how to design green agriculture that draws carbon out of the air. We can engineer a sustainable transport revolution. We can build better lives and livelihoods in harmony with nature. We can take this opportunity to build back better than before.
Avoid war metaphors
Covid-19 is not a ‘battle’ against an ‘enemy’ we must defeat at all costs. That implies pitting nations or people against each other, fanning flames of fear, paving way for authoritarian government crackdowns.
- We can fight this virus
- ‘Frontline’ workers
- Win the battle against covid-19
- We can navigate our way through this
- Essential workers, teachers, nurses, shop-keepers, etc
- Slow the spread, flatten the curve
Avoid ‘economy as a patient’
It’s hard to do in this health + economic crisis, but primes people to think of economy as a natural body or entity we shouldn’t ‘interfere’ with. Try to use the word ‘recovery’ only holistically — referring to people or society as a whole, not economy/ budget/ sharemarket.
- Revitalise the economy
- Economic rescue package
- We need a stimulus
- Economy is on life support
- Get the economy back on track
- Supercharge the economy
- Flick of a switch, reset
- Steering us towards a better future
Download the full slides from the box at the bottom of the page. See the Framing Guides & Manuals tag on the Commons for related resources.
- Communication - Messaging
- Economics - Messaging - Guides_Manuals
- Framing - Guides_Manuals
- Story_Narrative - Guides_Manuals