Reframing resource

Messaging for COVID-19

April 30, 2020

Yesterday, the National Reframing Initiative hosted a webinar, Human Service Messaging During the COVID-19 Crisis. Thanks to all of the people who joined. We hope you find it helpful in crafting your communications. If you missed the webinar, you can still watch it.

In it, Bridget Gavaghan, Director of the National Reframing Initiative, offered guidance for relying on research-based communications strategies to make a strong case for supporting human service policies and programs as the nation addresses the impact of COVID-19 on our communities and our sector.

The webinar was developed in response to our recent survey of the Network regarding desired resources to support the human service sector’s message development in the age of COVID-19.

As Bridget presented in the webinar, recommendations to address common communications challenges include:

  • Do no harm — messages should be consistent with public health guidelines, even when explaining the need to mitigate against unintended consequences of practices like physical distancing.
  • Promote interdependence and interconnection because we’re all responsible for being part of the solution, and include a clear role for our public officials since government responses will continue to be necessary.
  • While we are all in this together, we are not all equally affected. Describe the different conditions that contribute to different outcomes, including the role of racial inequities.
  • Avoid individualizing the impact by focusing on “vulnerable people” that conjures us vs. them, zero sum thinking.
  • Balance urgency with action — match challenges to solutions whenever possible.
  • Rely on the tested metaphor of Construction to explain how human services build well-being.
  • Prime long-term thinking even when addressing the immediate crisis.

If you weren’t able to join us for the webinar, watch the recorded video and access the slides.

SPOTLIGHT: New Reframing Resources

The Reframing Network survey responses also showed that sample messages around public funding and private donors would be useful. To that end, we’ve crafted a sample message to policymakers to support public funding and sample communication to private donors to support development efforts. The first applies to human services generally, while the second focuses on housing and homelessness prevention as a more specific example. We also developed tip sheets on two common communications traps — individualism and fatalism — to help you avoid cuing them up. We hope these tools are helpful to you in your communications. Please feel free to borrow or adapt any of the language to meet your needs.