Communicators must navigate the swamp and avoid those highly accessible but unproductive patterns of public understanding about human services and well-being to build a more productive public understanding of the field. People also need substantial guidance in thinking that human services work over time to build, maintain, and repair Americans’ collective well-being, rather than simply targeting specific groups at specific points in time. Finally, given the map outlined above, encouraging public appreciation of the supports human service professionals need to do their job well requires significant reframing. In order to combat the accessibility of the dominant frames, communicators will need a coherent and memorable narrative that can redirect thinking.
Based on findings from our research, we offer a series of evidence-based recommendations for human service communicators. Importantly, these recommendations should not be interpreted as a grab bag of suggestions, but rather as a storyline that can be used to organize messages about human services across advocacy groups. Drawing on evidence from the cognitive and social sciences, FrameWorks defines an effective narrative for social issues as addressing the following questions:
- Why does the issue matter to society?
- How does it work?
- What impedes it?
- What promotes it?
Below we outline the contours of a reframed narrative about human services – the Building Well-being narrative. The story looks something like this: