Reframing Issues Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

This month’s Contexts magazine (like paper delivered by a human called a postal employee) has anContexts_cover_vol51_big interesting article called "the art of reframing political debates" by charlotte ryan and william a. gamson.  This is framing in the context of communications theory. What caught my eye was the break out:

Framing is valuable for focusing a dialogue with targeted constituencies. It is not external packaging intended to attract news media and bystanders.

Name one time.  Name one time that framing didn’t take into account the news media on any issue of consequence?  Name one time that PR was not a driver for the frame.  Yes perhaps framing a debate with the kids around the dinner table is still technically framing and might be targeting only the immediate constituency.  And you can ground them if they argue against your frame. Yet this contexts article is on framing political debates which by definition is very public.

If you are in Public Relations and you have never considered changing the frame of reference to influence the public please do let me know.  I think it unlikely.

The authors do a nice job of recapping four points on framing.  These bullets are a nice refresher on things we do know about frames.  From the  ryan-gamson article…

  1. Facts take on their meaning by being embedded in frames
  2. People carry around multiple frames in their heads
  3. Successful reframing involves the ability to enter into the worldview of our adversaries
  4. All frames contain implicit or explicit appeals to moral principles

They point out that framing is one element and not the only element that matters.  Besides my beef with the public relations point (above) the article is well written and worth the 12 bucks for the mag.