Are you reinforcing your opposition's arguments?

printer friendlyprinter friendly

The following is a reposting of a blog written for the brand new Community Commons website, an interactive resource for leaders from communities, philanthropy, and government agencies, as well as private, academic and civic organizations working together on policy, systems and environmental changes for healthier, more equitable communities. BMSG was asked to moderate the Media and Marketing group. Check it out at communitycommons.org.

DON'T think of a pink elephant.

(You're thinking of one right now, aren't you?)

This little exercise refers to UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff's book on the subject of framing in politics, Don't Think of an Elephant, and how we can apply his framing advice in messages designed to promote healthy living policies. (Thanks to Liana Winett, research associate professor in the School of Community Health at Portland State University, for the suggestions and examples below).

Do you ever find yourself bringing up your opposition's frame before she or he does? Have you ever said or heard someone else say something like, "Our healthy living policy goal is NOT nanny state legislation" when nobody else has mentioned the words "nanny" or "state"?

By raising the precise frames we are intending to counter, even if only to refute them, we are creating hurdles we now must jump over. Moreover, we may be suggesting these arguments to those who had not yet considered them.

An actual example from a 2010 Oregonian article about a proposed local healthy vending machine policy: "The governor is not talking about taking away people's french fries. He just wants to offer them the choice of having carrots."

Next time your advocacy group's spokesperson starts a sentence with "this is not about", stop and think: Is this going to reinforce the counter frame?

Other potential pink elephant indicators:

  • "We are not"
  • "We don't intend to ____, rather ____"  
  • "This can be an issue of ____, but ____" 
  • "It is expensive, but ____"

Sometimes we have to counter an opposition's argument, but when we can set the frame, we should use our own words. Can you think of a quote that was meant to counter the opposition's frame but instead inadvertently reinforced it? Share your examples.


Twitter (1) world water day (1) Golden Gate Bridge (2) authentic voices (1) gun control (2) sexual health (1) water security (1) Newtown (1) news analysis (3) Berkeley (2) news coverage (1) public health data (1) campaign finance (1) Black Lives Matter (1) Big Food (2) target marketing (9) suicide nets (1) Bloomberg (3) sexual violence (2) sugar-sweetened beverages (2) Texas (1) food deserts (1) childhood obestiy conference (1) paula deen (1) Oakland Unified School District (1) prison phone calls (1) privilege (1) Bill Cosby (1) soda taxes (2) obesity prevention (1) nanny state (2) vaccines (1) stigma (1) framing (14) Merck (1) Let's Move (1) Nickelodeon (1) childhood trauma (3) Michelle Obama (1) paper tigers (1) prison system (1) adverse childhood experiences (3) sexual assault (1) mental health (2) democracy (1) Big Soda (2) media bites (1) gender (1) california (1) Rachel Grana (1) Big Tobacco (3) george lakoff (1) elephant triggers (1) SB 1000 (1) Jerry Sandusky (3) political correctness (1) Wendy Davis (1) Twitter for advocacy (1) nonprofit communications (1) sexism (2) breastfeeding (3) El Monte (3) marketing (1) institutional accountability (1) equity (3) reproductive justice (1) Sandy Hook (2) front groups (1) San Francisco (3) Richmond (5) health equity (10) beverage industry (2) community organizing (1) strategic communication (1) Tea Party (1) soda industry (4) apha (3) media analysis (6) FCC (1) tobacco tax (1) white house (1) PepsiCo (1) suicide prevention (2) ssb (1) gatorade bolt game (1) default frame (1) soda tax (11) Happy Meals (1) Donald Trump (2) Chile (1) tobacco (5) SB 402 (1) government intrusion (1) prevention (1) Telluride (1) Proposition 47 (1) Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (1) cancer prevention (1) health care (1) cervical cancer (1) public health policy (2) sandusky (2) messaging (3) indoor smoking ban (1) snap (1) diabetes prevention (1) ACEs (2) genital warts (1) election 2016 (1) Johnson & Johnson (1) naacp (1) Sam Kass (1) cigarette advertising (1) values (1) youth (1) communication (2) Marion Nestle (1) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (2) liana winett (1) collaboration (1) sports drinks (1) racism (1) Amanda Fallin (1) weight of the nation (1) food access (1) junk food (2) community (1) community health (1) Penn State (3) SB-5 (1) tobacco control (2) food marketing (5) suicide barrier (2) Food Marketing Workgroup (1) Catholic church (1) education (1) auto safety (1) language (6) SSBs (1) filibuster (1) child sexual abuse (5) Proposition 29 (1) environmental health (1) Coca-Cola (3) social media (2) structural racism (1) food justice (1) emergency contraception (1) news monitoring (1) Whiteclay (4) alcohol (5) built environment (2) healthy eating (1) sugary drinks (10) social change (1) obesity (10) Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes (1) HPV vaccine (1) chronic disease (2) junk food marketing (4) inequities (1) women's health (2) diabetes (1) food industry (4) soda warning labels (1) cosmetics (1) childhood obesity (1) media advocacy (23) news (2) measure N (2) advocacy (3) cancer research (1) food (1) news strategy (1) Connecticut shooting (1) Aurora (1) personal responsibility (3) Measure O (1) food environment (1) corporate social responsibility (1) food and beverage marketing (3) journalism (1) physical activity (1) abortion (1) social justice (2) autism (1) Pine Ridge reservation (1) personal responsibility rhetoric (1) choice (1) new year's resolutions (1) children's health (3) childhood adversity (1) community safety (1) gun violence (1) social math (1) Oglala Sioux (3) safety (1) regulation (2) McDonald's (1) Dora the Explorer (1) junk food marketing to kids (2) tobacco industry (2) beauty products (1) seat belt laws (1) violence (2) soda (12) community violence (1) industry appeals to choice (1) media (7) race (1) product safety (1) cannes lions festival (1) digital marketing (3) communication strategy (1) sanitation (1) water (1) Gardasil (1) online marketing (1) Citizens United (1) summer camps (1) American Beverage Association (1) Colorado (1) public health (71) food swamps (1) violence prevention (8) Joe Paterno (1) cap the tap (1) childhood lead poisoning (1)
  • Follow Us On Facebook
  • Follow Us On Twitter
  • Join Us On Youtube
  • BMSG RSS Feed

get e-alerts in your inbox: