By Edith Asibey and Bruce Trachtenberg
In what can only be described as a cautionary tale for people involved in public interest communications, a recent cover story in the New York Times Magazine describes how the push to encourage women to be screened for breast cancer has done a great job raising awareness about the disease but little to save lives.
For the second installment in our Science of Communication speaker series, co-sponsored by the Communications Network and Spitfire Strategies, Harvard behavioral economist Sendhil Mullainathan proved why when he talks, you should listen.
Mullainathan, whose work touches on how people’s brains process messages, has a sobering message for those of us whose jobs depend on getting people to listen, pay attention and–most important of all–act on what they’re hearing.
(This is a second of a two-part post. Part I on the word “innovation” is here.)
Guest Post: Tony Proscio
In the year just past, the eminent sports writer Frank DeFord devoted part of a column to an exposé of athletic-sounding phrases that are never used by actual athletes. Instead, they seem to turn up only when some armchair quarterback is trying to sound muscular. “Now,” DeFord wrote last September, “we have a very popular new sports term that is never used in sports: ‘game changer.’ Where did that come from? Nobody who plays a game ever says the game had a game changer.” Yet find me a foundation CEO or a think-tank Archimedes who has never used the phrase, and I will make a donation to that person’s favorite cause.
(Special webcast January 15th at 3 pm ET. Details below.)
In a recent opinion piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Vince Stehle, executive director of Media Impact Funders, asked why so few foundations had “made any notable calls for action” on gun control or gun violence in the wake of the “horrific bloodbath” at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Stehle argued that instead of sitting on the sidelines and letting others shape the debate and discussion, “foundations need to pay attention to the high cost of gun violence to our nation.”
Is — as Stehle suggests — philanthropy missing an opportunity to contribute to the gun violence debate similar to the ways it has addressed other major social issues, ranging from health care to immigration reform to climate change to education reform? Should — and can — foundations, in particular, do more?
That question will be explored during a special event — to be webcast nationally on January 15, beginning at 3 pm ET.
(A version of this post originally appeared on the Message House blog.)
Guest Post: Marc Fest
Whether you draft news releases for a living, or are trying to persuade a cop to not give you a speeding ticket — all of us always send messages. Here are five ways to make them more effective.