Why Values-Based Messaging?

Values are our most fundamental principles, the ideas so essential to our personal and national identities that violating them seems unthinkable. They are also a powerful communications tool, a means of establishing a human connection that can cut through stereotypes and partisan suspicion. Leading with facts and figures can reinforce an idea, but it doesn’t do much to persuade, particularly in this age of “fake news.” Leading with values, on the other hand, activates emotions and opens an audience’s hearts and ears to the message.

The Opportunity Agenda’s signature communications structure – Value, Problem, Solution, Action – guides the creation of values-based messages that motivate audiences to action.

Leading with VALUES creates broad points of agreement and shared goals that will resonate with nearly any audience.

Being explicit about the PROBLEM, and how it threatens shared values, creates a sense of urgency and connects individual stories to broader systems and dynamics.

Offering a SOLUTION gives audiences a sense of hope and motivation. The best solutions are connected directly to the problem offered, and make clear where the responsibility for change lies.

Assigning an ACTION gives the audience a concrete next step that they can picture themselves doing, and creates a feeling of agency.