Communicators need to know more about the science behind how people form their worldviews and make day-to-day choices.
Reframing the food narrative is not simply about getting the facts right or coming up with clever catchy phrases. If we are to increase the public’s engagement around food and farming, we must start with a more sophisticated knowledge of effective communications, including framing. Frames are the mental models people use to make sense of the world.
To arrive at an effective framing strategy that can guide lots of organizations pursuing systems-level change on multiple aspects of good farming practices, the Farming & Food Narrative Project is relying on Strategic Frame Analysis®, an approach to reframing social issues pioneered by the FrameWorks Institute of Washington, D.C. This proven process of collaboration between physical scientists and communications scientists has developed and amplified more readily understood science narratives about issues ranging from early brain development to climate change. This evidence-based approach involves three stages.
Strategic Frame Analysis®
The Steps in Our 5-Year Research Effort
1. Understanding the Gap between what experts think about what the public thinks.
First, researchers establish with experts think are the most important points about farming to communicate. Next, they determine what the public believes about the same topics. Researchers have interviewed a diverse group of ordinary citizens, diverse in geography, urban/rural, race, gender, and age. In Fall 2019, they will document what the mass media and advocacy groups are communicating about the subject matter. Researchers will then study the common ground and differences among these perspectives, which prepares them for the reframing work ahead.
In Stage 2, the researchers at FrameWorks develop new language that they believe can move the public to a new way of thinking about farms and farming practices. Then they test their hypothesis systematically, over and over again until they are confident that their new language is effective with the American people.
The aim in Stage 3 is to make the reframing language a useful tool for the field of advocates and organizations that want to use it. FrameWorks trains, equips, and supports the field with a toolkit that includes Playbook for Advocates, Video Presentations, Brief-the-Board Kit, Communications Collateral Items, Coaching for Scientists/ Advocates, and Technical Assistance.