The PR BlogMedia & PsychologyPersuasion & InfluenceFraming in PR: How To Bypass Confirmation Bias

Framing in PR: How To Bypass Confirmation Bias

Embrace every opportunity to use dynamic language.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Framing in PR is a learn­able lan­guage skill.

Stakeholders and pub­lics will likely per­ceive cor­por­ate mes­saging based on their pre-exist­ing con­firm­a­tion biases.

We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.”
— Anais Nin

Therefore, organ­isa­tions must seize every oppor­tun­ity to frame their stor­ies with lan­guage that amp­li­fies their Core Message.

Here we go:

Persuasion Through Framing

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Persuasion Approach: Framing

Framing is a use­ful approach to persuasion:

Framing (in per­sua­sion) = the rhet­or­ic­al use of dynam­ic lan­guage to emphas­ise the stra­tegic PR object­ive with­in the con­fines of a spe­cif­ic com­mu­nic­a­tion activity.

In oth­er words, there are 1,000 ways to say any­thing. In PR, it’s wise to choose words that pro­mote your cause.

  • In a demo­cracy, com­pet­ing interests will put for­ward the truths that best serve their pur­poses. If you care about your interests, you should spin for the win, too.

To per­suade (and mit­ig­ate con­firm­a­tion bias), PR pro­fes­sion­als can adopt an approach using the sev­en mod­els of fram­ing iden­ti­fied by Hallahan (1999):

This paper iden­ti­fies 7 dis­tinct types of fram­ing in pub­lic rela­tions, which can be used to stra­tegic­ally cre­ate mes­sages and audi­ence responses.”
Source: Journal of Public Relations Research 1Hallahan, K. (1999). Seven Models of Framing: Implications for Public Relations. Journal of Public Relations Research, 11, 205 – 242. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​2​0​7​/​S​1​5​3​2​7​5​4​X​J​P​R​R​1​1​0​3​_02

Each of these fram­ing strategies can be used to tac­tic­ally nav­ig­ate and coun­ter­act con­firm­a­tion bias, lead­ing audi­ences to recon­sider their pre-estab­lished beliefs and perceptions.

  • Framing of situ­ations. Present a busi­ness situ­ation in a new light to chal­lenge exist­ing biases. For example, fram­ing a busi­ness set­back as an oppor­tun­ity for innovation.
  • Framing of attrib­utes. Highlight dif­fer­ent product or ser­vice attrib­utes that may not have been pre­vi­ously con­sidered to alter pub­lic perception.
  • Framing of choices. Offer choices that lead the audi­ence to recon­sider their pre­con­ceived notions, such as present­ing an envir­on­ment­ally friendly, eth­ic­al, and cost-effect­ive option.
  • Framing of actions. Frame the organisation’s actions in a con­text that con­trasts with the audience’s expect­a­tions, like show­cas­ing a corporation’s char­it­able efforts in a way that coun­ters a ste­reo­type of cor­por­ate greed.
  • Framing of issues. Re-frame pub­lic issues to align with organ­isa­tion­al goals, subtly shift­ing the audience’s focus and preconceptions.
  • Framing of respons­ib­il­ity. Shifting the nar­rat­ive about who or what is respons­ible for a par­tic­u­lar situ­ation can change the audience’s beliefs about caus­al­ity or fault.
  • Framing of news. Leverage media fram­ing to present stor­ies in a light that chal­lenges exist­ing biases, for instance, by focus­ing on under­re­por­ted aspects of a story.

Learn more: Framing in PR: How To Bypass Confirmation Bias

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Dynamic Language in Leadership Communication

Framing in lead­er­ship com­mu­nic­a­tion is cru­cial because it allows lead­ers to effect­ively con­nect with and influ­ence their diverse audi­ences in vari­ous contexts. 

By using dynam­ic lan­guage with meta­phors, jar­gon, con­trasts, spin, and storytelling, lead­ers can tail­or their mes­sages to res­on­ate with dif­fer­ent groups, wheth­er employ­ees, stake­hold­ers, or publics. 

Effective lead­er­ship is achieved through effect­ive fram­ing, which involves using meta­phors, jar­gon, con­trasts, spin, and stor­ies to com­mu­nic­ate effect­ively and estab­lish cred­ib­il­ity.”
Source: American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy 2Fairhurst, G., & Sarr, R. (1996). The Art of Framing: Managing the Language of Leadership. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 53, … Continue read­ing

Metaphors and stor­ies help sim­pli­fy com­plex ideas and make them relat­able while using spe­cif­ic jar­gon can estab­lish cred­ib­il­ity with­in a par­tic­u­lar field. Contrasts and spin aid in high­light­ing key points and shap­ing perspectives. 

This dynam­ic approach to fram­ing not only ensures clar­ity and under­stand­ing but also builds trust and cred­ib­il­ity. It allows lead­ers to nav­ig­ate dif­fer­ent cul­tur­al, social, and pro­fes­sion­al land­scapes, ensur­ing their mes­sage is not just heard but is influ­en­tial, per­suas­ive, and motivating. 

Leaders’ fram­ing abil­it­ies are influ­enced by their social con­struc­tion­ism, mes­sage design logics, and wheth­er they are a teach­able skill.”
Source: Leadership 3Fairhurst, G. (2005). Re-fram­ing The Art of Framing: Problems and Prospects for Leadership. Leadership, 1, 165 – 185. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​1​7​7​/​1​7​4​2​7​1​5​0​0​5​0​5​1​857

Using dynam­ic lan­guage in lead­er­ship com­mu­nic­a­tion is about con­vey­ing inform­a­tion and mes­sages that inspire, engage, and drive mean­ing­ful action.


Please sup­port my PR blog by shar­ing it with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: Persuasion

Since we can­not change real­ity, let us change the eyes which see real­ity.”
— Nikos Kazantzakis

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Doctor Spin’s PR School: Free Persuasion PR Course

Use this free Persuasion PR Course to elev­ate your pub­lic rela­tions game with power­ful insights. Drive impact and influ­ence like nev­er before.

Learn more: All Free PR Courses

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PR Resource: Communicative Leadership

The single biggest prob­lem in com­mu­nic­a­tion is the illu­sion that it has taken place.”
— George Bernard Shaw

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The Checklist for Communicative Leadership

How can you ensure your lead­er­ship is express­ive and pre­cise in prac­tic­al situations? 

As a rule of thumb:

  • It’s gen­er­ally bet­ter to “over-com­mu­nic­ate” (tol­er­able extra effort) than “under-com­mu­nic­ate” (sub­stan­tial extra risk).

Make sure to pass these com­mu­nic­at­ive lead­er­ship checks:

  • This is what we are doing.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?
  • This is why we are doing it.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?
  • This is who will be doing it.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?
  • This is how we are doing it.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?
  • This is when we are doing it.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?
  • This is where we are doing it.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?
  • This is for whom we are doing it.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?

Being a great lead­er can be a daunt­ing task. However, with effort (and atten­tion to detail), all lead­ers can prac­tice express­ive and pre­cise communication.

Expressive and pre­cise com­mu­nic­a­tion styles have a stronger link to lead­er out­comes than per­son­al­ity traits extra­ver­sion and con­scien­tious­ness.”
Source: Human Performance 4Bakker-Pieper, A., & Vries, R. (2013). The Incremental Validity of Communication Styles Over Personality Traits for Leader Outcomes. Human Performance, 26, 1 – … Continue read­ing

Learn more: The Checklist for Communicative Leadership

💡 Subscribe and get a free ebook on how to get bet­ter PR ideas.

ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1 Hallahan, K. (1999). Seven Models of Framing: Implications for Public Relations. Journal of Public Relations Research, 11, 205 – 242. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​2​0​7​/​S​1​5​3​2​7​5​4​X​J​P​R​R​1​1​0​3​_02
2 Fairhurst, G., & Sarr, R. (1996). The Art of Framing: Managing the Language of Leadership. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 53, 2670 – 2671. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​9​3​/​a​j​h​p​/​5​3​.​2​1​.​2​670
3 Fairhurst, G. (2005). Re-fram­ing The Art of Framing: Problems and Prospects for Leadership. Leadership, 1, 165 – 185. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​1​7​7​/​1​7​4​2​7​1​5​0​0​5​0​5​1​857
4 Bakker-Pieper, A., & Vries, R. (2013). The Incremental Validity of Communication Styles Over Personality Traits for Leader Outcomes. Human Performance, 26, 1 – 19. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​8​0​/​0​8​9​5​9​2​8​5​.​2​0​1​2​.​7​3​6​900
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has

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