By Antje Dun, Commons Librarian
A collection of research and recommendations for framing, narrative and messaging on a range of issues.
Looking for research on how to frame an issue on a certain topic area? Here is a collection of reports, articles, videos and podcasts on a variety of issues including climate, crime, equality, nature, poverty and health.
It is easy to forget how mysterious and mighty stories are. They do their work in silence, invisibly. They work with all the internal materials of the mind and self. They become part of you while changing you. Beware the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world. – Ben Okri, Author
Note: The brief summaries of each report have been taken from the source documents with some minor edits. Click on the heading of each item to access the full resource. Some clicks will result in a download of a pdf while others will direct you to another website.
If you have additional resources to add please contact the Commons Librarians. Many thanks to the members of the Common Cause Australia Facebook group for their suggestions.
Abortion Narrative and Messaging Resources from Reframe
Reframe, [US], 2022 [Resource links]
- SisterSong – Reproductive Justice Messaging Toolkit
- Gutsy Media – Someone You Love Social Media Toolkit
- Trans Journalist Association – Best Practices for Trans-Inclusive Language in Abortion Coverage
- NARAL – Debunking Key Anti-Choice Narratives and Seizing the Conversation
- Liberate Abortion – Resource Hub
- May 14th Bans off Our Bodies Mobilization – Partner Toolkit (includes social media guidance)
- IntoAction – Protect Abortion Access Content Collection
- Media Matters – Media Coverage Analysis
- Resources from the State Voices Reproductive Justice Spokesperson Training – Creating and Delivering Your Message: Reproductive Justice (Part 1), Agenda, Slide Deck,Recording, Closed Captions
- Creating and Delivering Your Message: Reproductive Justice (Part 2) – Slide Deck, Agenda
- What Next? Podcast with Anat Shenker-Osorio, “The Evolution of Pro-Choice Messaging” Podcast / Transcript
- Cringewatchers – Podcast on the power of saying the word abortion
- Communications Capacity Support – Resource Media
- Black Feminist Future – Abortion Is Freedom Skills Camp
- NARAL Pro-Choice America – Fighting Disinformation About Medication Abortion Care
Together for Yes
Brave New Words, [Ireland], 2019 [Podcast]
The Together For Yes coalition was able to broach what many in Ireland saw as an untouchable topic by listening closely to their target audiences and rewriting the playbook on how they described abortion and the people who have them. The podcast probes into the various pitfalls and messaging challenges inherent in not just debating abortion, but driving voters to turn out in support of it.
Framing Age Message Guide
Common Cause Australia, Southern Melbourne Primary Care Partnership, Et al. [Aus], 2021, [Guide]
Based on national message research undertaken by Common Cause Australia in 2021, this message guide contains recommendations that will help you talk about age, ageing and issues that affect older people in ways that reduce ageist attitudes and behaviours.
Reframing Ageing Through Imaging
Frameworks Institute and AARP, [UK], 2022 [Guide]
People over 50 have long been misrepresented in media—or left out entirely. This new research from the FrameWorks Institute and AARP provides recommendations for using images that reduce the prevalence of ageism and advance a more authentic picture of aging and older people.
Citizens’ and Farmers’ Framing of ‘Positive Animal Welfare’ and the Implications for Framing Positive Welfare in Communication
Belinda Vigors, Animals, 9 (4), [Scotland], 2019 [Journal article]
Human perception can depend on how an individual frames information in thought and how information is framed in communication. For example, framing something positively, instead of negatively, can change an individual’s response. This is of relevance to ‘positive animal welfare’, which places greater emphasis on farm animals being provided with opportunities for positive experiences. However, little is known about how this framing of animal welfare may influence the perception of key animal welfare stakeholders. Through a qualitative interview study with farmers and citizens, undertaken in Scotland, UK, this paper explores what positive animal welfare evokes to these key welfare stakeholders and highlights the implications of such internal frames for effectively communicating positive welfare in society.
How Farm Animal Welfare Issues are Framed in the Australian Media
Emily Buddle & Heather Gray, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics (32), [Aus] 2019 [Journal article]
Analysis of media frames can reveal how issues are being made public and identify the cues that audiences are given to help them make sense of complex ethical issues. The researchers analysed articles published in the mainstream press in Australia between 2014 and 2016 related to farm animal welfare, and identified two dominant frames: that governments and the farm animal production industries cannot be trusted to ensure good farm animal welfare; and that consumers can act to improve animal welfare through ethical consumption. These frames have implications for how the Australian public interpret and understand the roles and responsibilities of different actors in the food production system.
Choosing effective frames to communicate animal welfare issues
Miriam Sullivan & Nancy Longnecker, 2010 [Conference Paper]
Animal welfare organisations use multiple communication frames, but it is unclear which ones are most effective in promoting attitudinal and behavioural change. This paper reviews framing techniques that draw on shocking imagery, measures of animal intelligence, societal norms and celebrity promotion. Societal norms and celebrity promotions have the greatest potential to modify attitudes and behaviour as they are accessible and relevant to the general public, unlike frames promoting animal intelligence. Shock frames are also effective, but should be avoided as they may provoke audience backlash and reduce the credibility of the organisation.
See also Common Cause Resource Library for guides and tip sheets on Cats and Dogs and protecting Wildlife.
Children – Poverty
Telling a New Story About Child Poverty in New Zealand
The Workshop for The Policy Observatory, Auckland University of Technology, [NZ], 2018, [Report]
Telling a new story about “child poverty” in New Zealand explores common core stories or cultural narratives about child poverty. The report discusses why these stories and narratives may hamper efforts to convince the public and policymakers to accept expert solutions. Importantly, the report highlights the double burden our stories can create for children and parents living without enough. The key purpose of the report is to help construct narratives that are more effective in promoting policy change. The report presents alternative frames and stories to tell, ones that will help the public and policymakers act on the expert solutions that are needed to ensure all children and families thrive. It is written as a resource for those working in child poverty research and policy.
Communicating Connections: Framing the Relationship Between Social Drivers, Early Adversity, and Child Neglect
Frameworks Institute, [UK], 2015, [Report]
This Message Brief summarizes findings from a set of studies of how the British public thinks about child maltreatment, and lays out a powerful, tested narrative that communicators can use to reframe public understanding of how social conditions contribute to early adversity in general, and child neglect in particular.
Attending to Neglect: Using Metaphors and Explanatory Chains to Reframe Child Neglect in the United Kingdom
Frameworks Institute [UK], 2015 [Report]
This report details the results of a survey experiment testing the effectiveness of Explanatory Metaphors and Explanatory Chains for enhancing the British public’s understanding of child neglect: what neglect is, what causes neglect, and how neglect can be addressed through programs and policies. The results of this framing experiment demonstrate that the Explanatory Metaphor “Overloaded” and the Explanatory Chain “Equipping Parents” in particular increase knowledge about child neglect and increase public support for effective policy solutions. These framing strategies represent an important part of an emerging Core Story for communicating about child maltreatment in the UK.
Taking Responsibility for Solutions: Using Values to Reframe Child Maltreatment in the United Kingdom
Frameworks Institute, [UK], 2014, [Report]
This report details the results of an experimental survey of more than 6,500 Britons that explores the extent to which values-based messages and narratives affect attitudes about child maltreatment and support for relevant policies. The experiment demonstrates the power of the value of Social Responsibility to move attitudes and policy support about these issues in productive directions. It also describes how this value is particularly powerful when paired with facts about child maltreatment and discussion of effective solutions.
Climate and Climate Justice
A Rising Tide: Strengthening Public Permission for Climate Action
IPPR, Akehurst S and Murphy L,[UK], 2022, [Report]
One of the by-products of climate change being so multifaceted is that there are almost infinite ways to discuss it. You can focus on risk or opportunity, jobs or generations, humans, or the natural world, and so on. This begs the question: which of these many stories is the most powerful in building permission for climate action with ordinary voters?This paper sought an answer to a straight-forward question: Which thematic narrative or message performs best to increase permission among UK voters for government action on climate change?
How to talk about transport and climate action: communications that work to build support for changes that make the biggest difference
The Workshop, [NZ/Aortearoa], 2022, [Guide]
This booklet has communication advice and examples to help generate narratives and stories specific to climate and transport action. The advice is based on narratives for change theory and research by The Workshop and other framing organisations internationally. The guide can be used to construct climate and transport stories that can reflect narratives about climate, environment and transport, that help to deepen thinking and shift mindsets. The guide provides specific narratives, values, metaphors, explanations and messages to use, and others to avoid, in generating stories and creative content for communications and campaigns.
Framing Climate Justice
PIRC, 350.org, NEON [UK], 2021, [Webinar, Report, Presentation Slides, Website]
A 12-month project bringing together organisers from across the climate movement to tell the stories that matter, and strengthen our movement in the fight for justice. Hosted by PIRC, 350.org & NEON.
How to Talk About Climate Change: A Short Guide
The Workshop [NZ], 2019, [Toolkit]
This toolkit is based on research conducted by The Workshop on behalf of Oxfam New Zealand. It is designed for people working to achieve meaningful climate action. Its purpose is to help us use more-effective strategies to create hope, improve people’s understanding of the causes and solutions of climate change and motivate people to act in meaningful ways.
How to Talk About Climate Change: A toolkit for encouraging collective action
The Workshop & Oxfam New Zealand [NZ], 2019, [Toolkit]
This toolkit aims to support the use of strategies that inspire hope, build connections between people, open doors to people developing more productive understandings of the causes of climate change, and encourages collective action on evidence-informed solutions, across local and international settings. The authors have drawn on on many disciplines from cognitive psychology, implementation science through to cognitive linguistics. The science of story takes us beyond repetition of the facts and framing of fears, and into the realms of storytelling with science.
Framing the Carbon Tax in Australia: An investigation of frame sponsorship and organisational influence behind media agendas
Darren Nelson [Aus], 2019, [Thesis]
This PhD thesis examines a dimension of framing theory that has long been acknowledged but not adequately explored – the influences of sources on media news stories and the concept of framing sponsorship. Using triangulated data from media content and textual analyses, source interviews and a public opinion survey, this study examines how the Carbon Tax was framed in its first three months as a policy direction in Australia.
Establishing Common Ground: Finding Better Ways to Communicate About Climate Disruption
Anthony D. Barnosky, Et al. [US], 2016, [Book chapter 9 from Bending the Curve: Ten scalable solutions for carbon neutrality and climate stability]
This book chapter discusses findings from recent research on communication strategies that suggest the need for appropriate framing of the issues for diverse constituencies that have not been effectively reached. The authors suggest that by targeting specific audiences with appropriately framed information, the societal balance can be tipped from the current condition of a majority who are apathetic to a majority who become receptive to the reality of harmful climate disruption and the need to avoid it.
Climate Justice Narrative
Communications Hub, [US], 2016, [Toolkit]
Communities of color and communities with low-income levels and wealth have been unrepresented in the mainstream environmental narrative. Considering climate change is an issue of economic and racial injustice, it is critical that the solutions and vision come from the communities most. This toolkit puts forward a values based unified narrative to fill that gap. It includes talking points and strategies based on research and interviews with leaders and members from the community.
Let’s talk Climate: Messages to motivate Americans
ecoAmerica, Et al., [US], 2015, [Report]
ecoAmerica’s climate messaging project develops and disseminates market-tested messages on climate solutions designed to engage Americans across political and demographic groups. The project employs qualitative and quantitative research methods to test specific words, phrases, and narratives that link climate change to mainstream American values and concerns. This project also tests narratives about climate tailored to people in faith, higher education, health, communities, and business.
COVID 19 / Coronavirus
See Progressive Framing of the Coronavirus Pandemic
Expert and Public Narratives on Crime in New Zealand: Gaps and Opportunities to Communicate Reform
The Workshop, [NZ], 2019, [Report]
This paper reports on the first phase of a larger research project looking at how to reframe the public conversation about crime and justice in Aotearoa New Zealand. This report summarise research undertaken by The Workshop to understand how experts understand and frame criminal justice, how the public also does so, and where the opportunities for building new, more effective narratives may lie. A short user friendly guide is also available: Expert and Public Narratives on Crime in New Zealand: A Short Guide.
New Narratives: Changing the Frame on Crime and Justice
Frameworks Institute, [UK], 2016, [Guide]
This strategic guidance outlines a set of practical framing recommendations for advocates working to build public support for a system-oriented to rehabilitation, not punishment. The findings offer insight into narrative structure, values that reframe the purpose of the criminal justice system, and Explanatory Metaphors that help the public appreciate the problems associated with a punitive approach and the promise of a more restorative approach.
Economy, Economic Justice, Poverty, Race, Class
Broke: How the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Sectors are talking about Poverty and how we can do better
Rad Comms & CPIC, [UK], 2022, [Report]
In this report, we’ve collected insights from our research to identify the harmful narratives perpetuated by well-meaning organizations. We focused our attention on the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors to explore how we tell stories about poverty and wealth—and where we can do better.
We offer a set of recommendations grounded in the science of storytelling. To arrive at these recommendations, we conducted a literature review focused on understanding prevalent narratives about poverty, a content analysis zeroing in on the storytelling of anti-poverty organizations on social media, and interviews with practitioners who are doing it well—to highlight bright spots and to answer the following questions:
- What are the narratives about poverty and wealth coming from the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors?
- Do these narratives demonstrate the best of what we’ve learned from research and practice about how to tell stories that transform systems?
The UK Race Class Narrative Report Building solidarity across race and class to win progressive change and inoculate against the powerful few that seek to divide us
CLASS in collaboration with ASO Communications, [UK], 2022, [Report]
A report from the think tank CLASS sets out how and why the left is failing with its messaging and what needs to be done to transform its approach into a positive, inclusive narrative.
Talking About Poverty: Narratives, Counter-Narratives, and Telling Effective Stories
Frameworks [US], 2021, [Report]
This report synthesizes the complex body of research around existing poverty narratives and counter-narratives, with practical advice about how to use narratives to create better stories—and, ultimately, to create social change.
Messaging This Moment: Mobilizing Our Base and Persuading the Middle on Policing, Protest and Racial Injustice
Anat Shenker Osorio Communications & Race Class Narrative Action [US], 2020, [Guide]
In this guide, you’ll find the “Do’s” and “Dont’s” of discussing protests and policing while effectively advancing a racial justice agenda. It offers high-level suggestions for activating the broadest possible range of support for desired policy solutions, inoculating against our opposition’s narrative, and contending with the understandable despondency we cannot risk from our base. The guide features overarching directives, full sample narratives and rebuttals to common objections.
Race Class Narrative Example Language
We Make The Future [US], 2020 [Guides]
In this resource, you’ll find sample language articulating how to follow these basic tenets of Race Class Narrative messaging:
- Lead with a shared value that names race and class.
- Name racial scapegoating as a weapon that economically harms all of us.
- Emphasize unity and collective action to solve the problem(s).
- Connect joining together to achieve desired outcomes. Give a call to action urging people to be an active participant in creating change.
Use this checklist to ensure that your campaign messages and communications materials – whatever they might be for – follow these basic tenets of Race Class Narrative messaging.
Ten Lessons for Talking About Race, Racism, and Racial Justice
The Opportunity Agenda [UK], 2020 [Tips]
This memo focuses on messaging with the primary goal of persuading them toward action and puts together some advice on finding entry points based on research, experience, and the input of partners from around the country. This is by no means a complete list, but it is a starting point for moving these discussions forward.
Framing the Role of Government and the Economy
Australia reMADE [Aus], 2020, [Presentation]
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.
Talking about Poverty and Welfare Reform: A Guide to Strategies that Work in Aotearoa New Zealand
The Workshop [NZ], 2019, [Guide]
The Workshop undertook research to identify messages that: improve the New Zealand public’s understanding of the causes of poverty; improve their understanding of the role of benefits in overcoming poverty; and increase their willingness to act to do something about poverty. Rigorous methodology was used to test the effect of these messages. The findings identify the most effective messages. Recommendations cover values, metaphors, positive vision, and communicating a causal chain. A short user-friendly guide is also available: Talking about Poverty and Welfare Reform in Aotearoa: A Short Guide.
Framing Toolkit: Talking About Poverty
Joseph Rowntree Foundation & FrameWorks Institute, [UK], 2019, [Toolkit]
Compassion and justice are values that underpin our society – we believe in helping each other out when we’re having a tough time. We need to make sure those values underpin the way we talk about poverty too. This toolkit includes: how to build lasting support to solve UK poverty; a 10 step guide for communicating more effectively about poverty; 5 doodles that help make sense of UK poverty; and how campaigners can tell a different story. It draws on recommendations from the FrameWorks Institute’s research into public attitudes to poverty in the UK, involving 20,000 people.
Greater than Fear Campaign in Minnesota
Brave New Words Podcast, [US], 2019, [Podcast]
This podcast hosted by Anat Shenker-Osorio outlines how, through rounds of research and strategic implementation of findings, a coalition of grassroots and labor groups found a narrative that speaks to both race and class concerns. From a 43,000 person celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid-al-Adha, to carefully considered door-knocking operations, to interactive social media memes, the Greater Than Fear campaign showed that we can simultaneously drive turnout from our base and persuade the middle.
Race-Class: A winning electoral narrative
DEMOS, [US], 2019, [Report]
This research demonstrates how to energize and persuade a truly multi-racial cohort to vote for progressive candidates and policies. The key for cross-racial solidarity, voter engagement, and policy victories is mobilizing around the connections between racial divisions and economic hardship. Here, for the first time, is empirical data that support tackling racism as a divide-and-conquer tactic that creates distrust, undermines belief in government, and causes economic pain for everyone, of every color.
Framing the economy How to win the case for a better system
Public Interest Resource Centre PIRC, Et al. [UK], 2018, [Report]
The PIRC, the New Economics Foundation, NEON and the FrameWorks Institute have launched two story strategies that progressives can use to shift thinking on the economy. They’re built on values and metaphors that encourage the hope that change is possible and increase people’s support for progressive policies.
Communicating Race Class Video with Anat Shenker-Osorio
[US], 2018 [Video]
Anat Shenker-Osorio shows how to apply research findings around communicating about race and class to the increasing white nationalism, xenophobia and race-based attacks that punctuate politics around the globe.
People Who Help People
Consumer Action Law Centre, [Aus], 2017, [Report]
‘People who help people’ gives a range of practical tips consumer advocates and financial counsellors can use to improve their messaging. Consumer advocates and financial counsellors change lives – by changing the way they use language, they can change even more lives.
How to talk about economics: A guide to changing the story
Australian Progress [Aus], 2018, [Report]
Australian Progress analysed the language people in Australia use to speak about economics (and tax, welfare, aid, privatisation, work and more). These new messaging resources will be useful for communicators, campaigners and advocates for more progressive economic policy.
Framing the economy: The austerity story
NEF, [UK], 2013, [Report]
The austerity story can be defeated, if its opponents identify and activate their own powerful frames. The frames must be developed from values and resonate with public opinion. They must be tested and refined based on what works. We outline some frames we believe could be used to build a new narrative and a story that brings them together.
Don’t buy it: The trouble with talking nonsense about the economy
Anat Shenker-Osorio, [US], 2012, [Book]
Anat Shenker-Osorio diagnoses economic discourse as stricken with faulty messages, deceptive personification, and a barely coherent concept of what the economy actually is. Cutting through conservative myth-making, messaging muddles, and destructive misinformation, this book outlines a new way to win the most important arguments of our day. The left doesn’t have to self-destruct every time matters economic come to the fore—there are metaphors and frames that can win, and Shenker-Osorio shows what they are and how to use them. Read a book review.
Environment & Nature
Framing Nature Toolkit
Public Interest Resource Centre PIRC [UK], 2018, [Guide]
This guide shows that our choice of words is just as important as any other decision we make in conservation. It explains what framing is and how use it can be used to create a better world for wildlife. Communication with an understanding of framing is more likely to convince, motivate and inspire people to help a cause. The toolkit includes exercises and examples to enable you to put framing into practice, whatever role you play in advocating for nature.
How to tell compelling stories that move people to action: Narrative Handbook
Australian Conservation Foundation [Aus], 2016, [Guide]
This handbook is the result of over a year’s qualitative and quantitative research on the discourses of the environment movement, industry, government, media and pop culture. The Australian Conservation Foundation’s (ACF) workshopped draft narratives with people from the ACF community and beyond and decided to share their important research and learnings with everyone through this handbook. It introduces some key principles, techniques and tools so you can craft a compelling narrative that will motivate and mobilise communities. It will help you create a coherent story that can engage and strengthen the values that will, over the long term, engage more people more strongly in our cause.
Common Cause for Nature: A practical guide to values and frames in conservation
Common Cause [UK], 2013, [Guide]
The research is based in the analysis set out in Common Cause, drawing on social psychology and linguistics, showing that there are competing sets of human values within each of us which can be encouraged and discouraged by language and experience. The guide includes recommendations based on these findings: both for communications and for the wider experiences that NGOs create on a daily basis: at reserves, in volunteer schemes, and through advocating for policies that change society.
How to shift public attitudes on equality: A practical guide for campaigners and communicators
Equally Ours, [UK], 2019, [Guide]
This guide aims to equip campaigners and communicators to change hearts and minds on equality. There’s a growing body of evidence that we can move the needle on public attitudes if we understand what people really think and feel about an issue and why, and communicate by connecting with deeply held values. This guide applies a strategic communications approach to the challenge of showing inequality as structural – deeply embedded in our society and institutions, rather than the responsibility of individuals. It aims to shift thinking away from the belief that anyone can be a successful ‘self-made person’, and towards a recognition that there are still major structural barriers to equality.
Framing Equality Toolkit
ILGA Europe & PIRC [UK], 2017, [Toolkit]
This toolkit is a short guide to strategic communications, based on extensive research and building on the experience of activists and communicators from around the globe. It aims to provide a framework rather than a blueprint; helping you to ask the right questions rather than giving you the right answers. It’s designed to be helpful for anyone who communicates as part of their voluntary or paid work. It’s written with a focus on European LGBTI activists it will be useful to others with a similar vision.
It’s all in the frame: winning marriage equality in America
Open Democracy, 2015, [Article]
This article outlines the process the US gay rights movement went through to reframe marriage equality. The marriage movement invested in a strategic communications operation, both nationally and in dozens of states. It was this data-driven communications machine—which was always turned on—that caused support for marriage equality to skyrocket 20 points in just a decade.
See additional resources in the LGBTIQ+ section.
Passing the Message Stick: A Guide to Changing the Story on Self-Determination and Justice
Dr Jackie Huggins AM, GetUp and Original Power, supported by Australian Progress, 2021, [Guide, website]
Passing the Message Stick is full of rich insights into how to craft a message that is persuasive and wins majority public support. The two-year message research project collected and analysed 3,400+ messages across issues as diverse as – housing, health, land rights, climate, remote communities, gender, systemic racism, identity, representation and January 26 – and took the lessons from this to craft and test messages that work across all issues, and build support for self-determination and justice.
Recommendations, case studies, examples of messages, 100+ page report, and easy-to-use guides for First Nations advocates and allies alike.
Framing Gender Equality: Message Guide
VicHealth, Et al., 2021 [Guide]
This messaging guide contains recommendations that will help you boost support for gender equality initiatives in Australia. It is based on extensive research undertaken by Common Cause Australia on behalf of VicHealth and the Together for Equality and Respect Partnership with the support of the Outer East Primary Care Partnership.
We envisage the primary users of this guide will be people working to create a more equal and just society for women and girls. This includes those seeking to build greater public support for systemic solutions to gender inequality through policy and organisational change as well as those working on individual behaviour change initiatives.
Framing masculinity: Message guide
Vic Health [AUS], 2020, [Guide]
This message guide contains recommendations that will help you have more productive conversations about masculine stereotypes in Australia. It is based on extensive research undertaken by Common Cause Australia on behalf of VicHealth in 2019 and early 2020. The primary users of this guide will be people working to challenge unhealthy attitudes and patterns of behaviour that stem from adherence to traditional forms of masculinity, and who aim to shape healthier norms and behaviours for Australian men and boys. Whether you are engaging with men and boys directly or with the broader community, the recommendations in this guide should be useful to you. Here is a case study on how Macedon Ranges Health has used the new Framing Masculinity Message Guide.
Government / Democracy
How to talk about democratic reform: A cheat sheet to change the story
Australian Conversation Foundation, [AUS], 2020, [Cheat Sheet]
This cheat sheet is a summary of research by an alliance of Australian civil society organisations, working together to achieve legislative changes that limit corporate influence on our political system. It is designed for people working across civil society who are advocating for change that involves democratic decision making and participation. Its purpose is to help us talk more effectively about government, democratic participation and reform, and to motivate people to get involved.
Framing the Role of Government and the Economy
Australia reMADE [Aus], 2020, [Presentation]
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.
Health & Liveability
Please note: guides related to the Covid-19 pandemic are included in Progressive Framing of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Framing Walking and Bike riding: Message guide
VicHealth, Common Cause Australia, [AUS], 2021, [Guide]
This message guide contains evidence-based recommendations that will help you build public support for more walking and bike riding measures. These are ways governments can make walking and bike riding safer and more enjoyable, thereby enabling more people to move around on foot or by bike. Measures include new or improved footpaths, bike lanes and pedestrian crossings, as well as safer speed limits. The guide is written for walking and bike riding advocates and allies who want to create more consistent, compelling and effective narratives on this issue in Australia.
Healthy Persuasions: A Message Guide for Health Promotion Practitioners
VicHealth, Common Cause Australia, [AUS], 2019, [Guide]
This guide, created for health promotion practitioners on behalf of VicHealth, contains recommendations that will help you craft more persuasive communications across a range of health topics. The guide is based on extensive message testing on topic areas including healthy eating policy, alcohol policy, childhood obesity, and harmful industries. Visit the VicHealth site to access the guide.
Reframing the conversation on the social determinants of health
The Health Foundation & Frameworks Institute, [UK], 2019, [Briefing]
Despite extensive evidence for the impact of social determinants on people’s health, public discourse and policy action is limited in acknowledging the role that societal factors such as housing, education, welfare and work play in shaping people’s long-term health. There are many reasons for this, but one factor that merits greater attention is the way in which the evidence is communicated to and understood by the public. The FrameWorks Institute has identified a range of ‘cultural models’– common but implicit assumptions and patterns of thinking – that give deeper insight into how people think about what makes them healthy. Understanding which cultural models promote – or obscure – people’s awareness of the importance of social determinants is an important first step in developing effective ways of framing the evidence.
Reframing Homelessness in the United Kingdom
Frameworks Institute, [UK], 2018, [Report]
This research involved street interviews, face to face testing and a series of experimental surveys with over 10,000 people. It concludes that strategies exist to shift public thinking in new directions can be achieved by telling a new story about homelessness.
Finding a Better Frame: How to Create More Effective Messages on Homelessness in the United Kingdom
Frameworks Institute, [UK], 2017, [Report]
This report explores public thinking about homelessness in the United Kingdom and documents how the issue is framed in advocacy and media materials. It offers advocates an initial framing strategy to help expand public understanding of homelessness and build public will for solutions.
Talking about human rights in Australia
Human Rights Law Centre (Aus), 2019 [Guide]
This messaging guide seeks to help people and organisations who are advocating for a Charter of Human Rights in Australia to craft their public messages in a way that will energise supporters and convince neutral audiences about the many benefits a Charter will provide to the whole community.
Be the narrative: How changing the narrative could revolutionize what it means to do human rights
JustLabs and the Fund for Global Human Rights (FGHR), [Global], 2019, [Report]
Changing narratives about human rights requires bold changes in how we think about and do human rights work. Based on work with 12 organizations around the world, JustLabs and the Fund for Global Human Rights discuss the experimentation process for producing new human rights narratives and lay out tactical, organizational, and field-wide changes for making the human rights movement durable and effective.
A Brilliant Way of Living Our Lives: How to Talk About Human Rights
Anat Shenker-Osorio, [US], 2018, [Report]
Using language data from advocacy, opposition, political speech and popular culture, Anat Shenker-Osorio analyzed why certain messages resonate where others falter in the human rights sector in Australia, the UK and the US. Complementing this written discourse were 53 interviews with advocates in these three countries in order to draw out what we wish people believed. Recommendations here also draw upon previous research and empirical testing across issues related to human rights.
A guide to hope based communications
OpenGlobalRights, [US], no date, [Guide]
A hope-based communications strategy involves making five basic shifts in the way we talk about human rights: Talk Solutions; What we stand for; Create opportunities; Support for heroes; and Show the “we got this”. This guide includes videos and action steps to spread hope about human rights.
Transgender Youth and the Freedom to Be Ourselves – Building Our Choir with a Race Class Gender Narrative: Messaging Guide
ASO Communications, Transgender Law Center, Lake Research Patners, 2022 [Guide]
New research by ASO Communications, Transgender Law Center, and Lake Research Partners finds that we can cultivate resistance to these attacks, build cross-racial solidarity, and advance a shared vision for the future by weaving together our shared values, experiences, and demands across races and genders. This new approach builds on the Race Class Narrative to tell a convincing story of how our opposition uses strategic racism and transphobia to harm us all; and how, by coming together, we can ensure we all have the freedom to be ourselves and support one another. Using a Race Class Gender Narrative, we can mobilize our progressive base (particularly Black, AAPI, and Gen Z audiences), marginalize our opposition, and move persuadables across race.
What we can Learn from the Marriage Equality Campaign
Commons Librarian, Commons Library, 2022 [Resource Links]
A collection of resources from many varied sources about marriage equality campaigns from across the world. It includes lessons learned about the power of stories – framing and language and the power of who is telling the story.
Pride in Prevention Messaging Guide: A guide for communications and engagement to support primary prevention of family violence experienced by LGBTIQ communities
Jackson Fairchild, Marina Carman, Rosanne Bersten and Belinda O’Connor, Produced by Rainbow Health Victoria for the LGBTIQ Family Violence Prevention Project 2019–2021, 2021 [Guide]
This guide provides additional support to organisations and practitioners in developing effective and appropriate family violence prevention messaging, and delivering this through public campaigns, social media communications and policy work. It also aims to support community engagement in developing and delivering prevention messaging, and specifically engaging with LGBTIQ communities.
Many of the principles and approaches included in the guide are drawn from frameworks used extensively in message development to promote gender equality or prevent men’s violence against women. In particular, it draws on the Common Cause framework, an innovative framework for designing messaging to inform social justice conversations and behaviour change.
See additional resources in the Equality section.
Building the Bridge to Peace: Reframing Peace and Peacebuilding
Volmert, A., & Gerstein Pineau, M. FrameWorks Institute [US], 2022 [Report]
This brief offers an evidence-based narrative around peacebuilding—how it works and why we need it—to help peacebuilding practitioners and their allies build public understanding. Based on several years of deep-dive research and the FrameWorks Institute’s Strategic Frame Analysis™, the report also offers five concrete framing strategies for communicating about peacebuilding. These strategies are designed to identify existing mindsets, change discourse, and ultimately build understanding of and support for peacebuilding across the political spectrum.
People With Disability
PWDA language guide: a guide to language about disability
People with Disability Australia, [AUS], 2021, [Guide]
This guide has been written by people with disability to assist the general public and media outlets in talking about and reporting on disability. The choices people make about language have an impact on the way people with disability feel and are perceived in society. It is important that there is awareness of the meaning behind the words that are used when talking to, referring to, or working with people with disability. Disrespectful language can make people with disability feel hurt and excluded, and be a barrier to full participation in society.
What Do I Say? A Guide to Language about Disability
People With Disability Australia, [AUS], 2019, [Guide]
This guide has been written by people with disability to assist the Australian general public and media outlets in talking about and reporting on disability. The choices people make about language have an impact on the way people with disability feel and are perceived in society. It is important that there is awareness of the meaning behind the words that are used when talking to, referring to, or working with people with disability. Disrespectful language can make people with disability feel hurt and excluded, and be a barrier to full participation in society. [Word document]
Refugees and Migrants
Stories shape Societies: Creating new hope-based narratives about children, young people and migration: Guidelines for communicators
Destination Unknown, Kristin Hulaas Sunde from PositiveComms.co.uk [Belgium, UK], 2022, [Guide]
Our journey towards creating new narratives about children and migration began by introducing the hope-based communications method to the Destination Unknown network. We gained further insights into current global and national narratives through a series of creative workshops with civil society organisations and young people. Based on these workshops, we developed sample messaging, narratives and content packages to test through online opinion research. We then used the results from our research to map out possible new directions for telling positive, powerful and impactful stories and shape a better future for children and young people on the move around the world.
Changing the Conversation on Asylum: A Messaging Guide
Freedom from Torture [UK], 2021, [Guide]
This messaging guide is a tool to help the refugee and migrant advocacy sector to think tactically, play to our strengths and win. In this new guide, we take a look at the methodology and messages that can help us carve out a new approach that will be successful in persuading the public that seeking safety is a fundamental human right. The report includes:
- A ‘do’s and don’ts’ guide
- A messaging format for persuading the people we need to persuade, and energising our base
- Messaging principles
Reframing Migration Narratives Toolkit
International Centre for Policy Advocacy, [Germany], 2019, [Toolkit]
A set of resources for progressive campaigners working to put diversity and inclusion back on the public/policy agenda and counter populist narratives. Includes ten case studies.
Words that Work: Making the best case for people seeking asylum
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre [Aus], 2015, [Report]
In 2015, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) worked with Australian Progress’ Expert-In-Residence Anat Shenker-Osorio and Australian researchers to complete extraordinary new research into the words that work for talking about people seeking asylum. Despite many Australians from all walks of life arguing for more humane treatment of people seeking asylum, bipartisan policy has moved in the other direction and broader community attitudes continue to harden. It is clear that humane and lasting policy change will require changing how we make the case for it. This new research includes tested messages that could reach much more of the community, and our political leaders, to kickstart a new, more hopeful national discussion. The project is also outlined in the Brave New Worlds podcast People seeking asylum – Australia. [Link not found 12 April 2022]
Taking Refuge from Our Rhetoric: A Language Analysis on Behalf of Asylum Seekers and Refugees
ASO Communications [US], 2015, [Report]
A report on the language analysis which informed the Words that Work report summarised above.
Changing the conversation about refugees
Anat Shenker-Osorio, [US], 2017 [Video]
Anat Shenker-Osorio, a communications expert and political pundit, has a few things to say about the way we talk about subjects as far-reaching as immigration and the economy.
American Perceptions of Sexual Violence: A FrameWorks Research Report
Frameworks Institute, [UK], 2010, [Report]
This report illustrates the results of a cross-national study based on in-depth interviews from both experts and average Americans on Sexual Violence. This study comprises the following three components: 1) an analysis of the discourse on sexual violence from expert interviews, 2) one-on-one cognitive interviews with Americans, and 3) a comparative analysis that “maps the gaps” between expert and lay understandings of this topic. The report concludes with a set of recommendations that will improve communications practice around this issue and inform the next phase of research.
- How to Change the Narrative – Guides and worksheets for progressive narrative development
- Commons Cause Australia Resource Library – The latest message guides and other resources from Common Cause Australia and aligned organisations from around the world.
- Narrative Initiative Resource Library – A curated collection of guides, worksheets, webinars and trainings offered as a resource for the field of narrative change practitioners.
- Reset Narrative Community Archive
- Making the truth stick & the myths fade: lessons from cognitive psychology, Norbert Schwarz, Eryn Newman, & William Leach, Behavioral Policy Review, 2017
- A Progressive’s Style Guide, Sumofus.org, 2016
- Social Justice Phrasebook, The Opportunity Agenda, [US], 2015
- Communication - Messaging
- Framing - Guides_Manuals
- Story_Narrative - Guides_Manuals