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Putting the Right Words to Work


You’re doing good work designed to help lift people out of poverty.

But are you weighing your efforts down by using the wrong words to describe the people you serve?

In the latest installment in our Zero to Ninety series, Tess Hart (@hart_tess), formerly a senior associate at Hattaway Communications, says that when anti-poverty programs use words like “poor” and “low-income,” they’re actually making their work harder. “Those words,” says Hart, “create images of someone lazy in minds of many Americans.”

The solution?  Use words that create positive associations to describe your programs, such as “hard-working” or “striving.”  Adds Hart, “When you start conversations that way, you can get seven out of 10 Americans to say ‘yes’ to programs that support families struggling to get ahead.”

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For more on this topic:
Winning Words.
A Message Memo on how to build a narrative with motivating power.
Webinar replay on how to communicate about poverty.

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