Designing Your Message

Determine the message that you want people to know. 

Use it consistently, and anticipate both positive and negative responses.

Example: The message: "Stand up for the arts! Keep Ovation on the Air."

In 2012, Time Warner Cable's plans to drop Ovation - a television channel dedicated to the arts and contemporary culture - inspired a social media campaign, live events, and attracted news coverage. Almost 90,000 people signed their online petition. Time Warner returned Ovation to its service in fall, 2013.

stand up for arts ovation image

A good message is
  • Short -- easy to say & remember (e.g. no longer than 15 words)
  • True -- otherwise it is easily dismissed and hurts your credibility
  • Relevant to your audience -- it should speak to the attitudes and concerns of your target audience, otherwise they will tune it out
  • Heartfelt -- if you do not feel it, who else will?
  • Repeated -- and repeated and repeated…The more people you reach and move, the more support you could gain.
  • ​A good message sparks a feeling (ie pride, frustration, even outrage). Feelings motivate action.

- NDI Civic Advocacy Curriculum Guide 

Presenting the Message

Select those most likely to be supportive

  • Focus on who can help: start with internal audiences, then move to potential external audiences
  • Do not just preach to the converted.
  • Involve prominent people to lend credibility
  • Join with others, including unusual partners
  • Be a good listener
  • Know when to “back off.”
  • Spend one third of your time addressing the issue(s), and the rest listening to their thoughts on it.

NDI Civic Advocacy Curriculum Guide