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According to the line of reasoning, advocates must develop strategies that allow marginalized groups to properly interpret and effectively access media channels. Grassroots social mobilization seeks to use the media to influence the allocation of public resources in a more equitable manner. Using the techniques of this school of communications practice, community groups can have a democratizing influence on the construction of solutions to social problems. Much of the work of grassroots advocacy centers on building the communications capacity of community-based organizations. The implicit theory of change is that people are empowered when they have a better grasp of how and why media influence those issues important to their organizations and communities. For instance, practitioners use training, workshops, and Web-based materials to support the communications activities of organizations that are generally unable to mount full-scale communications programs and activities within their organizations. One relatively low-cost investment in understanding media had a profound impact on the public portrayal of a low-income neighborhood.

Another area of attention for grassroots mobilizers is the frames promoted in the media. Practitioners decry the limited numbers and types of frames and seek to discern new frames that can effectively capture and promote new power relationships in society. If we relied solely on mass media samples to identify conceptual frames, we would run the risk of missing frames that, although culturally available, have no visibility in media discourse. The initial media reports sought someone to blame while ignoring the larger issues raised by the incident, the authors charge. Grassroots mobilization practitioners study media frames in order to develop alternative strategies or “collective action frames” designed to catapult an issue onto the public agenda. These collective action frames have three frame components: “injustice (i.e., an understanding of the human actors who carry the onus for bringing about harm and suffering), agency (i.e., a sense that it is possible to change conditions or policies by acting together in some way), and identity (i.e., a sense that the ‘we’ who can change things exists in opposition to some ‘they’ with different values or interests).” By contrast, persuasion techniques are criticized by these authors as methods of individualistic propaganda, tools of control designed to preserve the status quo through the demobilization of individuals.

Public interest or public policy campaigns apply the tools and strategies of electoral campaigning to non-election campaigns, often with the goal of passing a particular piece of legislation. This approach utilizes the narrow strategy of controlled policy messages primarily aimed at policymakers. These campaigns are designed to directly influence decision-makers—as opposed to influencing either the media or public opinion as an indirect method of influencing decision-makers. Policy campaigns typically involve writing reports, mass mailings, and lobbying public officials. They may also incorporate elements of social marketing, such as paid advertisements, although they often do so with carefully calculated media buys aimed at reaching members of policy elites—the quarter-page ad on the opinion page of the Newspaper Post. Trade associations, labor unions, and public interest groups all participate in this kind of campaigning: drafting policy reports in support of specific policy objectives, developing relationships with powerful actors in the policy process, and providing information to the general public.

Change in public opinion, however, is seen only as a means to influence policymakers. For instance, campaigns of this sort use “publicity polls” to demonstrate high levels of support for the policy of interest, as opposed to the kind of formative research used in social marketing. Critics of this school point to its heavy dependence on rational choice and a traditional information-processing model, and its tendency to rely on facts and information gain to predict support. In this sense, policy campaigns suffer from the same criticism leveled at political campaigns: [T]here has been only a modest evolution from hypodermic thinking to more sophisticated models of persuasion that recognize the interaction between campaign messages and the voter. While policy campaigns recognize the importance of agenda-setting, they ignore the lessons of framing and use antiquated models of persuasion, resulting in a “squeaky wheel” approach to politics—as in “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” and those constituents who yell loudest get the most attention from policymakers. The Better World Fund’s campaign “Great Nations Keep Their Word” is an example of this type. This campaign places advertising in places where lawmakers are likely to see it and implies that the whole world is watching their vote.


Sparrows by morning, live in peaceful nests! Design shouldn’t dominate things, shouldn’t dominate people. It should help people. Don’t spend your time solving your favorite problems, solve problems that need to be solved, generically. A home is a place where you live, and society is a place where your story begins. Honesty shares honesty, as it is honesty’s nature. Stay always in Ablution and get back to the trust you have been, with.

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