Framing is your analysis of the issue. The frame defines what’s in your story
Use your frame to advance your position:
- Put opposition on the defense and you on the offense.
- Define issue and players to control debate.
- Focus and clarify your issue.
Use your frame for maximum media impact:
- To get reporters interested.
- To effect more people.
- To make your story newsworthy.
- To create hooks and newsworthiness.
There are two sides to a story. How is the issue currently framed? How would you like it framed?
Hooks for your frame
- Controversy sells stories. Frame the controversy to put the opposition on the defense.
- Dramatic Human Interest. Include the stories of real people, their triumphs, tragedies, adventures, and anecdotes.
- Trends. Stories that suggest new opinions, behavior patterns, and attitudes. Three is a trend; find at least three examples to assert that a new trend is emerging.
- Timeliness/ Calendar. Captures something coming up on the calendar. “Back to school” can be a hook for toxic pollution in your children’s schools.
- New Announcement. “Unprecedented” or “groundbreaking” or “first-ever”. Reporters are only interested in new news, not old news. Make your news fresh.
- Localize national story (and vice versa). Take a nationally breaking story and emphasize its local impact, i.e. how a welfare reform bill is affecting people living in your community.
- Anniversaries/Milestones. One year later, one decade later.
- Fresh angle on an old story. Take an old story and put a fresh twist on it.
- Profiles and personnel may feature individuals, community leaders, or galvanizing spokespersons who may become news themselves because of their fascinating stories.
- Special event. A huge conference, rally, or gathering. Frame event to capture the issue and importance.
- Respond and react to news others have made.
- Celebrity. If you have a celebrity on your side, someone known in your community, make sure they are included in the story.
- Strange Bedfellows. Have unlikely allies come together in solidarity over your issue? Highlight it in your story.
“Frame” the issue by answering these questions:
What is this issue really about? Broader subject and theme.
Who is affected? Bigger, wider potential audience, more drama, and reach.
Who are the players? Good guys, bad guys.
What hooks does this frame contain? Controversy, human interest, trend, etc.
What pictures and images communicate this frame?
What’s a message for?
- Your story is focused, clarified and told through your message.
- Your message contains your analysis (frame) of the issue.
- Be FOR something, not just against something.
- Stay “on message.”
- Use your message to maintain control, direct the interview, and respond to reporters’ questions.
- Many messengers, unified message.
- Repeat the messages over and over.
Anatomy of a winning message
A winning message contains:
- Problem-Frame, controversy, broad impact