Framing an Issue, Changing a Mind

What would you say if you wanted to persuade people to scrap the Bottle Bill and move beverage container recycling to curbside?How would you argue for scrapping Oregon's iconic Bottle Bill or sacrificing personal privacy to keep the Internet free? That was the challenge my Willamette University MBA students faced as they learned the skill of issue framing.

Effective framing is critical to give people a quick, memorable way to see an issue with your point of view. It is an advocacy tool that plays a fundamental role in issues management, in congealing the views of a broader group and even in changing people's minds.

Here are some of the best issue frames for retiring the venerable Oregon Bottle Bill and its 5-cent redemption fee and having beverage containers collected curbside along with other recyclable material instead of returned to grocery stores:

  • "Kick your cans to curbside."

  • "In recycling we trust."

  • "Ban the Bottle Bill. Recycle instead."

  • "Recycle at the curb, the way GREEN was intended."

  • "Curbside recycling. A simpler choice for you. A cost savings for all."

  • "Kick the Bottle Bill to curbside. Don't pay twice to recycle responsibly."

  • "Save your nickel. Recycle at curbside."


Defenders of Internet provider rights to collect data from unsuspecting users offered these framing choices:

  • "Nothing in life is free, not even the Internet."

  • "Advertising is the price of a free Internet."

  • "You can't hide on the digital highway."

  • "Monetizing the Internet is a no-cost way to stimulate the economy."


Online privacy advocates had some sharp framing, too:

  • "Anything less than privacy would be uncivilized."

  • "How much is your privacy worth? Somebody is willing to pay."

  • "Protect your privacy. Data abuse hurts."

  • "Our freedom depends on our privacy."


Framing is to issues management what positioning is to marketing. Both cut quickly to the essence of an issue or a product.

Framing is advocacy you remember.