Less Than Useful

A few months ago, a pest control guy came to my house to do his annual “get out the mice” campaign (the critters make a pilgrimage into my basement whenever the weather turns cold). He pointed to the kitty litter box and asked, “You have a cat? Doesn’t that help?” It does not. And—to paraphrase the innkeeper’s response to Inspector Clouseau—zat is not my cat. She is feral, and only winters at my bungalow.

So, okay, she is not a mouser. I can live with that. But then a week ago I opened the door to let her in and, too late, realized that she had a mouse from outside in her mouth, which she placed at my feet, only to sit there contentedly as the mouse got up and scurried under the cabinet.

This is my metaphor for the day, meant to drive you to read today’s feature article, “What’s in a Frame?”, by Julie Sweetland of the FrameWorks Institute. In an engaging summary, she describes what a social issue frame looks like, how it functions, and how to change one that is working against the greater good. Because the reality is that without a clear consciousness of the frame you are using to discuss your issue with the public, you will revert to reintroducing unwanted messages from your adversaries back into your communications—thus repeatedly robbing your advocacy of the clear messaging it deserves. In this case, imagine yourself as the feral cat making a mess of the house you have a stake in.

That said, I want to remind you that we have an ongoing partnership with FrameWorks to emphasize framing as a core competency of nonprofits. Don’t miss this important installment.