Framing Reviews: Marketing vs. Truth

By Stephen Cataldo, 24 February, 2017

First in a series on disentangling messaging challenges on the left: Can we use framing and marketing techniques without losing connection to the truth?

"come up with at least one story for every data point."
--Tim Wise

There is a long-running struggle among Democrats: do we want politicians to stick to the truth or start marketing?

Democratic politicians that I respect often aim for truth, facts and policy without framing or marketing. Trump and even Romney build marketing campaigns full of falsehoods (flat-out β€œlies” in Trump's case). These aren't the only choices. It is possible to figure out how stories and use marketing techniques for what you see as the truth. (Go to marketing professionals for advice, but don't put the marketing people in charge.)

It's important for progressives to catch ourselves when we decide to place the truth above framing: many of our politicians who don't frame are scoring better on PolitiFact, but they are nowhere near shining examples of truth-tellers. Our side does it's share of bending the truth, even if we think the Republicans bend it more. The truth isn't what stops us from creating coherent stories.

Progressives should add a new "ask" to our politicians: I want to know who you work with to get your story out in a way that will influence the center of the country towards our values. The stories need to be shared and repeated. Consider writing politicians asking what their underlying metaphor on an issue is, and which other Democrats use the same metaphor.

None of this means leaving facts and details behind.


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"come up with at least one story for every data point"