Recently I read a Dutch article by Rob Wijnberg on "How the truth became a product". He asks himself: "What kind of truth are we talking about? Truth about what, truth for whom and in what sense? The role that truth plays in politics differs from its role in science. And the dominant truth in North-Korea or Saoedi-Arabia differs a lot from the type of truth in countries like The Netherlands or France". The article points out that apparently "the truth" as we thought it existed, seems to be replaced by multiple truths. It is more about interpretations of facts and figures, and about the questions you posed before data collection, than the analysis of the data as such.

If you want to influence policies nowadays, you will have to take into account that these differences exist. Not only between countries, but also between differrent social groups or bubbles within countries. Every bubble has its own bubble-truth. It is interesting to dig a bit deeper and look into the patterns we can distinguish of each bubble-truth. What we see from the outside is the slogan, the position of the subgroup. For example: "Tax reduction for all" sounds like something that is good for all, but looking deeper at the facts it shows that it is more gratifying for the top 1-5%, than for the remaining 95-99%.

A strong message
Once the idea sticks to your mind: "tax reduction for all... is good" it is difficult to replace that image, because it is now linked with your positive emotion. If you now want to advocate for a more balanced tax reduction that benefits the less-well-of instead of the already well-of, you are pushed in the defense. In response to the slogan, it is difficullt to design a message as strong as the first one. For example: "Increase tax for the rich to reduce tax for the poor".

A message that fits the mindset
This is a game being played in day-to-day life by politicians, spin-doctors, marketing and businesses. If you want to be succesful in your Advocacy and Policy Influencing, you will have to learn the trick: do not only count on facts and figures, but link these with a message that appeals to the emotional mindset of your policy targets, your decision maker, your general public.

This blog is written by Ger Roebeling, trainer of the Advocacy & Policy Influencing course. Framing your policy message and the use of social media is key in this course, so join us on 12 - 16 June 2017. Call or mail Ger Roebeling: +31 (0) 318-650060 or +31 (0)6 539 838 32 for more information.