Latest Posts

Rich

Framing Nature Toolkit

About the toolkit

It builds on the work of Common Cause for Nature concentrating on the practical application of communication tools in conservation.

The content was created during the framing nature project and has come from working closely on projects with the Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Fresh Water Habitats Trust and ZSL.

Download

The toolkit is be available for download here.

Order

Framing Nature Toolkit: Order for £8.

 

Ashley

Messaging Guide Climate Justice Messaging Guide It’s here!

The Climate Justice Messaging Guide is tailor made for campaigners, activists, spokespeople, and anyone trying to talk about climate justice. 

The guide brings together learnings from Framing Climate Justice, a participatory movement framing project that we coordinated, alongside our friends at 350.org and NEON, and a group of 26 amazing campaigners and activists seeking to firmly centre justice in climate change communications. 

It’s a critical time to make sure we are talking about climate change in the right way. We need to find effective ways of framing climate change with reference to historical injustices and colonialism, acknowledging that those who are most affected around the world are the least responsible, while advocating solutions that redistribute power and centre communities on the frontline. 

Simple stuff right? 

While it might not always be straightforward, it can be done. We’ve designed the Climate Justice Messaging Guide to help you navigate talking about climate justice. 

The guide includes:

  • common attacks and how to mitigate them;
  • helpful words to use for talking climate justice;
  • key metaphors to help develop messaging;
  • stats to help tell stories;
  • details on how people in the UK think about climate justice;
  • a core messaging outline.

The guide is available for download here

We’d love to know how you get on and are always open to feedback. 

There’s loads more work and research we have planned for how to frame climate justice so if you’re interested in updates please sign up to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter

Rich

Freelance Opportunity Work with us Fundraiser

PIRC are looking for a freelance fundraiser to lead six months of trust fundraising to support a programme of work to diversify, democratise and deepen civil society’s work on narrative change.

We’re looking for someone who can develop our existing fundraising plan; draft and complete funding applications; research trusts/foundations; meet with funders to build relationships; and work with team members to complete general fundraising activities.

Days: Estimate of 50 days over 6 months initially.
Rate: £300 London / £250 Rest of UK per day (negotiable).
Contract: Fixed-term, 6 months, with 3-month review and the possibility of extension and/or a permanent position, dependent on funding.
Location: Remote
Deadline: 12pm, Monday 2nd August

For more info, visit publicinterest.org.uk/fundraiser

Rich

Website Framing Climate Justice A new resource on how to talk about climate justice...

Stories are central to creating change: you need a good one to make it happen. But what does a good climate change story look like? Or more elusively, what about a good climate justice story?

Climate campaigners are increasingly bringing questions of justice into our work, but it can be difficult to know which narratives work, and which values, metaphors, and examples can motivate people to act.

The Framing Climate Justice project was set up to explore these issues and develop some initial findings and recommendations for the movement. We’re excited to announce that we’ve put together all the project materials in one place: framingclimatejustice.org  Read more

Elena & Dora

Pandemic Response: Part 7 Narrative tactics And how to respond...

Looking out at the not-so-normal-new-normal as we near the end of 2020, Dora Meade and Elena Blackmore have been thinking about the key narrative *tactics* currently in play and how social and political movements should respond:

  1. The co-option of language in the battle of ideas. Everyone wants to Build Back Better now: with radically different agendas. Messaging is regularly being borrowed/stolen, losing its meaning, squeezing the narrative space & confusing the debate.

    … Is this tactic a problem or should we see it as a win? Should we relinquish co-opted rhetoric or hold ground? Does it suggest we need to hone our messaging or shift tone?

  2. Optimism over reality. A PMA can get you anywhere, right?! A compelling story of a rosy future is a powerful tool: obscuring the current mess. Opponents are positioned as ‘doomsdayers’, far less appealing to persuadables, and alienating/confusing for anyone who doesn’t agree.

    … So how to do critical opposition whilst telling a story of a better future? How do we highlight stories of injustice and oppression, whilst explaining things can be different?

  3. Pointing the finger. Where we level responsibility shapes the solutions we seek. Should we be dobbing in our neighbours & blaming asylum seekers for their own plight (sp. alert: no) or calling for a change of policy? Blaming individuals obscures responsibility of politicians.

    … How do we move away from individual responsibility framing? What can we do to call this out and bring systemic (and often historic) responsibility into the frame?

  4. Politics as theatre. We increasingly consume politics in short, dramatic ‘acts’: engineered arguments (Rule Britannia), bizarre media moments (Home Secretary on the cliffs of Dover), outlandish leaked policy ideas. How quickly can the Overton Window be shifted?

    … Is it ever strategic to be silent? Should we come out on the attack or are there times when we stoke the fire of unhelpful debates? How can we shift focus away from the theatre and back to reality?

  5. Crisistunism. Yeah we said it. Using crisis as a narrative opportunity—‘shock doctrine’ style—to normalise regressive policies & shape a new common sense. Think draconian migration restrictions (via scapegoating +hate) & the attacks on the judiciary (‘activist lawyers’).

    … How can we call this out? What role is there for narrative in resisting these policies? Especially when other forms of protest might be more constrained by pandemic restrictions.

Read more

Elena

#blacklivesmatter Narrative is fractal 5 Why we need more than words to truly face racism

Narrative is more than words

He will never see her grow up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle.
Roxie Washington, mother of George Floyd’s daughter

I don’t think many people truly believe the old sticks and stones adage anymore. But working in the world of framing and strategic comms, it’s easy to take it to the other extreme and believe the power of words to be paramount. But words are just one vehicle for the meaning we extract from and use to shape our lives.

What causes my gut to wrench and the grief to wrack my body when I hear of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade is, only in the simplest of senses, caused by the words I read on a screen. The immediate pain lies in the stories themselves, located beyond the words: the brutal events, the violent interplay between the characters, the horror of the ending. The lives taken: the whole, messy, beautiful humans who will never again walk through their front door or laugh or hug their loved ones again.

And each of their stories is another tile in an incomprehensibly vast mosaic of a narrative that taps into a deep well of familiar pain, a dull ache that I’ve held for as long as I remember.  Read more

Rich

Charity Governance Awards We won an award! 2020 Board Diversity and Inclusion Award

PIRC is delighted to have won the Board Diversity and Inclusion 2020 Charity Governance Award.

We were honoured to have been considered alongside two such amazing organisations as Happy Baby Community and Irise International.

PIRC works alongside civil society organisations for social justice. We have recognised for some years that in order to live our values, we must also look squarely at our own working practices, and particularly at power, diversity and liberation. Since 2015, we have built a non-hierarchical management structure to start to address power imbalances in the organisation. We have prioritised anti-oppression, not just in the recruitment, but also the subsequent training and induction, of new staff and Trustees. This means both seeking diverse voices and stretching the organisational understanding of accessibility beyond inclusion and into liberation and justice. Diversity and inclusion are not just check-boxes, and we recognise that to truly embed the value of equality is the work of a lifetime. Read more

Dora & Bec

Pandemic Response: Part 6 Pandemic Resources Regularly updated

Action is the antidote to despair. Joan Baez

Resources for communicating about COVID-19:

For understanding the psychology of pandemics:

Read more

Elena

Pandemic Response: Part 5 Virus as beast or crime 3 Why episodic and thematic framing matters

There’s a 2011 study in which researchers tested the effects of framing crime using the metaphors of either crime-as-virus or crime-as-beast. Participants in the study read one version of the following:

“Crime is a {wild beast preying on/virus infecting} the city of Addison. The crime rate in the once peaceful city has steadily increased over the past 3 years. In fact, these days it seems that crime is {lurking in/plaguing} every neighborhood. In 2004, 46,177 crimes were reported compared to more than 55,000 reported in 2007. The rise in violent crime is particularly alarming. In 2004, there were 330 murders in the city, in 2007, there were over 500.”

It reflects the distinction between episodic and thematic framing: encouraging us to either see crime as a single event (beast) or as a wider issue (virus)1.

It is now 2020, and the very model of a thematic frame—the virus—is itself an episodic frame. 

Read more

Bec & Dora

Pandemic Response: Part 4 Pandemic Metaphors 21 Tracking the narrative

Analyses of language reveal the extraordinary fact that we use around one metaphor for every ten seconds of speech or written work. If that sounds like too much, it’s because you’re so used to thinking metaphorically – to speaking of ideas that are ‘conceived’ or rain that is ‘driving’ or rage that is ‘burning’ or people who are ‘dicks’. Our models are not only haunted by ourselves but by properties of other things.Will Storr, The Science of Storytelling

Metaphors help us make sense of complex or sensitive information. By offering us a structure for how to think, they point us towards what the problem is, and therefore what the solution should be. Often they slip in unseen. We can use them, repeat them and extend them without even realising it.

If you are communicating about the current pandemic and you are trying to build the case for a responsible, caring and proportional response, then your use of metaphor can either help or hinder.

In the past week, on either side of the UK Government announcing a ‘lockdown’, we’ve been paying close attention to the metaphors being used to talk about COVID-19. We read through a selection of the most read articles in the most read online news media outlets—the BBC, Sky News, the Guardian and the Daily Mail—and have come across the imagery of apocalypse, acceleration, burden, tsunami, invasion, fortification and bottlenecks.

There are many metaphors flying around, but two of the most widely used at the moment are war and crime. Below we examine the implication of these prominent metaphors—alongside some other metaphors to watch (some helpful, some not) over the next few weeks.

Read more

Bec & Dora

Pandemic Response: Part 3 Pandemic Beliefs 1 Understanding the narrative

Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. Milton Friedman

So what are the ideas that are lying around?

You may not share Milton Friedman’s opinion of the ideas we need lying around. But our response to COVID-19 will depend on what they are. At the moment, narratives about COVID-19 are competing for some of our most deeply held beliefs about the way the world works. If we are communicating about COVID-19 we need to be careful about which of these we are appealing to, and which we are avoiding.

Our piece The Narratives We Need goes more deeply into some of these core beliefs, and what they mean for our communications.

Here we outline some of the specific helpful and unhelpful beliefs about COVID-19. This is about framing: the core concepts to leave in, or out. It is not a list of messaging dos and don’ts. But you can use it to help develop a messaging strategy, or as a checklist to evaluate your ideas against. Read more

Dora

Pandemic Response: Part 2 Messages of Hope 1 From across civil society

When we drop fear, we can draw nearer to people [in some ways at least], we can draw nearer to the earth, we can draw nearer to all the heavenly creatures that surround us. bell hooks

We have in the past week been grateful to receive several beautiful messages of hope from our colleagues and friends around the world—affirming both the need for immediate mutual aid and for challenging unhelpful narratives. 

We pass on their wise words below… Read more

Dora & Bec

Pandemic Response: Part 1 Unimaginable times 2 An evolving resource

Just a few weeks ago, this moment was unimaginable. We would not have believed the headlines, or been able to picture how the high street looks today. COVID-19 has abruptly pressed pause on anything that resembles ‘normal’ day-to-day life.

This is a moment of anxiety. We are fearful for our health and the health of those around us. We are all trying to make sense of what is happening and calculate the true impact of this crisis. This virus will affect us all, but we know it will not be felt equally. It will leave some people more exposed and vulnerable than others, laying bare the reality of existing inequality.

But this is also a moment of connection. 

The shared experience and interconnectedness of being human has been brought sharply into focus. Our health is inextricably linked to the health of our neighbours. Our resilience is community resilience. In the face of this crisis to cooperate and collaborate is not a choice, it is the only way to respond. In our illness, anxiety, solidarity, concern for loved ones, boredom and need for light relief we share in this surreal and scary collective moment. Read more

Bec

Election Guide Talking climate justice this election 1 Four things to consider

Climate change is featuring in this UK election like it has never featured in any before. Barely mentioned in previous election cycles, this year we have seen it front and centre of manifesto pledges, and Channel 4 hosting a climate debate for the first time. Awareness and concern about climate change is at an all time high, and we are at a critical fork in the road: we vote for a government that will act on climate change, or we don’t and face the consequences.

For many campaigners, this is also a critical moment to make sure we are talking about climate change in the right way. Specifically, it’s about putting global justice into our frames, and not allowing the debate to focus so narrowly on emissions targets. It’s about framing climate change with reference to historical injustices, such as colonialism, acknowledging that those who are most affected around the world are the least responsible, and advocating solutions that redistribute power and centre the communities on the frontline.

But it’s not necessarily straightforward to talk about climate change in this way.  Read more

Guest

New Publication Don’t parrot… 1 A short guide to avoiding common communication pitfalls

A guest blog by Ralph Underhill, PIRC Associate and Director of Framing Matters. Framing Matters and Health Poverty Action have just published ‘A Practical Guide for Communicating Global Justice and Solidarity’. Here he introduces common communication traps.

President Nixon famously said, “I am not a crook”.

With those 5 words, he managed to reinforce the idea, in the minds of millions of Americans, that he was, in fact, a crook. What he should have said is “I am an honest man”. When he used the word ‘crook’, he was parroting the language of his opponents, and simply reinforcing that negative association in people’s minds.

This is the first communications trap, which I call the… Read more