Monday, September 13, 2010

values, values and more values

Alright so once again, after reading chapters 3 and 4 in our book, one thing keeps coming back as a highly important aspect of effective strategic communications: values. (Ok not to completely dismiss the Ch. 3, research is highly important too and the book suggests that media trend analysis and taking stock of public opinion are two of the easiest ways to research for a communications plan). Basically everything needs to go back to values; but with this emphasis on values comes a need for a thoroughly thought-out message. The idea of "contested concepts," or different definitions for values-based messages is really interesting to me. This is something I definitely see as changing the view of a message and therefore important for PR professionals to understand. All contested concepts have an essential, uncontested core and that is what communications plans must resonate with its audience. I think this is where the FrameWorks framing elements and levels take form. Though it simplifies the process, the three levels used by FrameWorks work well to describe the basic foundation for framing. The three levels are these:
1. Big Picture - This is where the general public is on most issues. It's the basic idea of a movement.
2. Issues & Movements - This is where activists are. These are the more specific groups of people to whom you want to appeal who you already know care about a certain issue.
3. Specific Policies & Legislation - This is where policy makers and experts are. These people know a lot about the issue and usually have a lot at stake when it comes to the issue.
**Note - The book also expresses the need to operate at the level of the audience to whom you are appealing. Using the language and jargon necessary for that particular audience is very important.

I think the way the book explains the importance of framing messages so well, I'm going to quote it: "By properly framing messages, you build a communications strategy on widely held values that shape opinions. And within those frames, you can create targeted messages, assembling the specific concepts and language that will resonate with those who are persuadable and ready to move to action" (p. 44). This presents the "challenge" in the book: to move people past their natural habits and thoughts to a new frame or re-frame the words describing the issue.

Trying to find an example of values shown in an ad:
So this is certainly not for a non-profit (Louis Vuitton is probably considered the exact opposite of that) but I found it interesting that this was the first video in the results after I searched "values" on YouTube.

The messages and reflections on values in this ad are strong. And yet, you would never know what it was for until the very end. There is absolutely no mention of the brand, just the idea of a journey and its effect on a person. This is interesting because it does a good job in connecting a value/idea to a brand. It is obviously appealing to an audience that enjoys travel and puts "being worldly/cultural" high on a list of values. This equates to an audience that can afford to travel a lot, and moreover can afford to buy LV. Many of the comments stated how much they loved this commercial and its branding power; however, others thought it was too fake (connecting this "love life" value with a expensive brand). I applaud LV for this commercial but I too wish it was for something a little more substantial than a designer brand. The emotions and values presented in this video could do wonders for some sort of non-profit organization that wanted to promote cultural tolerance or even an organization like the Peace Corps. People would be less likely to see the commercial as pretentious if the organization behind it was more substantial and fit better with the values presented.

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