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How to Re-frame and Connect with NGO Campaigns

Behavioral psychology tells us that there are two distinct ways people process information. System 1 information processing is instinctive, visual and emotional. System 2 is more deliberative and/or logical. In our contribution to the EuroNGO conference on September 27th about sexual and reproductive health and rights, I discussed how NGOs could better apply system 1 thinking in their campaigns using the four steps approach of the Glocalities campaign accelerator.

  • STEP 1: Know Your Values
    Values and psychology are essential in system 1 thinking as they are the building blocks for how people instinctively behave and form their opinions. That is why it is crucial to form a deep understanding of the cultural (and subcultural) values of the country where you are campaigning and connect with trends (and countertrends) in society. For example, the reason sexual and reproductive rights are currently under siege in Russia, Turkey, but also increasingly in the US and Eastern Europe is because of the large size of the Conservative value segment. In western Europe, the natural support base for sexual and reproductive rights is much larger, with a high proportion of people with a Creative values orientation. The key strategic question for a campaign is how to sway the silent majority who are not part of your own values bubble of like-mindedness?

  • STEP 2: Choose your frames
    That is where framing comes in. The goal of framing is to look at your issues and objectives and try to frame them in such a way to connect with perspectives in the broader population. It is crucial to frame the debate on your terms, instead of following in the frame of your opponent. Based on our data (using values cards) we see an opportunity for NGOs to reframe the debate on sexual and reproductive rights about love, happiness and caring for others. These are frames with a high potential to connect in more conservative societies.

  • STEP 3: Activate your audiences
    Finding the right frames is not enough, you also need to activate your audience with personal stories that resonate with your audience. We have developed a method to track patterns of storytelling that resonate with certain audiences. For this, we make use of archetypes (literally: ancient patterns of storytelling) which are rooted in myths, fairy tales, the Bible, but also popular Holywood movies and political campaigns. For NGOs campaigning on sexual and reproductive health, the archetypical Caregiver, for example, provides a strong storytelling perspective. The caregiver wants to protect, help, be generous and live for his/her community.

  • STEP 4: Execute via media channels
    The final step is to get your message out using media channels. In this age of social media, Facebook and Twitter are especially well equipped to personalize your messages and engage socially. However, TV penetration is still very high in most countries and should not be underestimated. Based on the values profiles of your audience we can give NGOs very specific advice on effective media channels, and we can develop bespoke algorithms for micro-targeting via social media.

Glocalities Campaign Accelerator


Mash Muravina

Research Consultant

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