Designing Your Message

Your message is the most important thing 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, & 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