Crafting A Message for Social Change

Posted on January 21, 2014 by


MLK-speechWe last touched on social change in late October, as we discussed the many nuances of story .. exploring its role in our learning, our culture, and our desire to make things better.

A story informs, and it teaches. It models, and it makes us think. In fact, we could argue that story is the fundamental means through which we understand what is possible. And in a world where reaching for what generally seems im-possible is an ever more urgent pursuit, it follows that story is the main tool in our toolbelt, the heavy ammo in the arsenal .. the secret weapon of change.

If we want to tell a powerful story, it begs an interesting question. How do we craft a message that is strong enough to inspire? What language do we use? How will we come across?

Picture yourself as a change agent, an activist with a cause, someone seeking to make a difference. Recall if you will the powerful image of Dr. King, leaning into the hearts and minds of many millions hanging on his every word. There are several elements at the core of any social change message. Let’s explore these:

  • Q1. Sense of urgency. What can share to break through complacency and passivity?
  • Q2. Vision (that resonates). How do we paint a picture of where we’re supposed to be going, if we’re not completely sure ourselves?
  • Q3. Common ground. Can we draw new stakeholders into the game? Does our message need to adapt to every new constituent group? How much critical mass is enough?
  • Q4. Call to action. What do we need to do? Can we put it in actionable terms?
  • Q5. Call to relationship (coming together). Getting change started requires a small crowd, even a village. Why are connecting and engaging are fundamental to building momentum?
  • Q6. Quiet confidence and resolve. People want to know they can trust their leaders; can this come through in our messaging?

Clearly Martin Luther King mastered these aspects and so many more, providing a timely reminder of an era when social change rocked an entire society to its core. Others may note overlaps with Kotter’s 8 steps for Leading Change. Students of literature may recognize tools of the persuasive writer. Those in buiness might stake a claim to strategic marketing and PR frameworks for a useful, day to day context.

Bottom line? Deep and effective communication comes in many wrappers.

But at the core are some common catalysts. Learning to recognize and tap these catalysts becomes a fundamental requirement for social change. A thought, in closing:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?” – Dr Martin Luther King

It’s a question worth some reflection. How many of our 6 elements echo in his words?

The #socialchange series at #smchat runs every 4th WEDS at 1pET.  It is building momentum, as we continue to explore what it takes to drive meaningful change in our world, in spite of the deafening level of noise and distraction. It’s a story of stepping away from the fray to consider what might be possible. Challenge us, as we seek to take new and productive steps forward on this ..

I hope you will join our conversation, this WEDS JAN 22 1pET .. only at #smchat ..

Chris aka @sourcepov

Posted in: Social Change