Three Takeaways from #frank2019

In Professional/Networkingby Rachel Nanzer

Continued education is one of Martin Waymire’s four core values—and it’s baked into everything that we do. We know that to best serve our clients, it’s imperative that we’re continually honing our communication skills. In turn, we use those skills to manage social and digital media campaigns, help clients tell their stories and affect social change.

I spent Feb. 3-9, 2019 in Gainesville, Florida at frank, a conference that connects communicators, scholars, storytellers and activists working on the front lines of social change. Martin Waymire works with clients who share the common vision of making Michigan a better place—and that routinely involves using evidence-based strategies to drive communications.

Here are few important takeaways from #frank2019 to keep in mind when communicating with your target audience:

COMEDY IS GOOD FOR MORE THAN A LAUGH

Everybody appreciates a good laugh, but can humor really create change? Caty Borum Chattoo, assistant professor at the American University School of Communication, recognized that satire provides discourse, critiques issues and attracts attention to issues, but wondered if people can take messages seriously when they’re presented as jokes.

Martin Waymire knows that comedy can help humanize just about anything—including health care. We’ve done just that for the Michigan Association of Health Plans. We know there’s nothing sexy about health insurance, but by putting a funny, pop-culture spin on health care news and information, we’ve been able to connect with people and educate them in a meaningful way.

Funny, engaging content provides entertainment value to issues you speak on, making them more memorable and gaining higher investment from an audience. Not everybody likes to watch the news, but everybody likes being entertained.

ANGER IS REAL

Social issues can be polarizing—especially in today’s political climate. Whether we’re working to improve Michigan’s talent gap or increase childhood immunization rates in the state, we know that our messaging can evoke a number of emotions within our target audiences.

As communicators, the goal of our campaigns is often to elicit emotion. But we need to be intentional with the emotions that we use. Researcher Jeremy Yip, Ph.D. found that while anger can lower our ability to understand the perspectives of others, it can also rally us around a common cause.

As storytellers and strategists, we must be intentional about the language we use and the emotions that we are evoking from our audiences.

PERSISTENT EFFORT LEAD TO ATTITUDE CHANGES

In a world full of instant gratification, sometimes we call it quits when we don’t see immediate results. Wondering if protests actually matter, researcher Soumyajit Mazumber studied the impact of protests in both political discourse and attitude change. Through the lens of the U.S. civil rights movement, Mazumber’s work reveals that institutional and long-term attitude changes are possible in sustained movements, especially when they’re collaborative.

While we don’t lead protests at Martin Waymire, we recognize that protests operate as a way to communicate ideas, and we’ve seen institutional and attitude changes influenced by our communications expertise. Voters Not Politicians worked with 1000s of volunteers to spread high level messaging to local communities, resulting in the passing of proposal two. Fix MI State has spread awareness about Michigan’s infrastructure needs for over two years, and now infrastructure is one of the largest concerns of the governor’s office.

Martin Waymire is partnering with numerous organizations and movements in our state to support them with effective PR. When needed, we buckle down for long-term strategies, because public attitudes can be changed — they just don’t change overnight.

HOW WE CAN HELP

 At Martin Waymire, you always get our A Team. We pride ourselves on integrating strong messages with cutting-edge tactics to help get results. Please give us a call at 517-485-6600 if your organization could benefit from using creative storytelling and tactics to reach your goals.