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Shifting the frame – and getting our message out

September 6, 2011

Two workshops on developing and communicating progressive messages.

Beit Zatoun offers two workshops to help progressive communities and organizations better develop and communicate their message.
Dates: Saturday September 24 & Saturday October 29, 2011.

The right has been enormously successful in framing the terms of public debate, not just about particular issues, but in shaping the context in which issues are discussed.

Progressives, on the other hand, are often frustrated by our inability to get our message across.

Figuring out how to frame issues is not just a media relations task but a key challenge for developing strategies for social change.

In these workshops we’ll talk about how we can frame our messages more effectively – and how we can do better at getting media coverage.

We will begin with framing: defining the essence of an issue in a way that connects with the values of the people we want to reach. For progressives, this often means establishing an alternative frame to compete with the way the corporate media present the issue.

It may also mean being aware of our tendency to sometimes get caught up in rhetoric and jargon that fails to communicate and that turns people off.

We’ll look at examples of successful – and self-defeating – framing. We’ll look at how the right has framed particular debates, and how the left has. We’ll try to understand why the right has been so successful in setting the terms of debate. (Hint: the fact that they own most of the media certainly helps, but it’s not the only thing.)

We’ll analyze examples of framing together, and we’ll brainstorm ideas for how we can do better.

In the second workshop, we’ll look at effective media relations. We’ll consider questions such as:
What and who are the media?
Who works for the media?
Who decides whether – and how -- a story get covered?
What should a media release say – and how should it be sent out?
What are common pitfalls to avoid in dealing with the media?
What should one say during a media interview – and what should one not say?
How do we get our message out in the soundbite context of the commercial media?
What are alternatives to the mainstream media?

Both workshops will be led by Ulli Diemer, who runs the media resource Ulli is the co-ordinator of Connexions, an information portal for people working for social justice. Connexions maintains an extensive archive of documents related to grassroots social change, as well as an online library of more than 11,000 books and documents related to social change, the Connexions Calendar of social justice events, and the Connexions Directory of associations and grassroots groups.

Bring examples of your own communications materials – leaflets, posters, news releases, etc. for discussion, and bring your desired message!

Cost: $15 per workshop or $25 for both. Please register using the Form at

Both workshops will take place at Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham Street, Toronto. (near Bathurst subway station on the Bloor line.)
The September 24 workshop starts at 1:00 pm and runs to 3:30. The October 29 workshop starts at 1:00 pm and runs to 3:30.

For more information contact:
Beit Zatoun
Phone: 647-726-9500

Ulli Diemer
Phone: 416-964-1511


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