League of Michigan Bicyclists

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Message Framing


Bicycling organizations earn credibility by how well they communicate.  First-rate organizations are distinqueshed from second-rate ones through command of the facts and accuracy. In order to attract more popular support and build larger public constituencies for our campaigns, Michigan bicyclists need to ensure the highest level of accuracy
and excellence.

Moreover, we need to communicate in the boldest and most compelling manner possible. We want to make our messages meaningful and applicable to the people of Michigan so that our words, our facts, and our examples move them.
That is why framing a message is so crucial. Framing a message entails narrowing research down to the most salient, important points. It is these points that appear at the top of whatever we say and write.


  1. RESEARCH. Know what you are saying. Ask yourself, what are the three or four most compelling facts about this issue?
  2. AUDIENCE. Know whom you are talking to.
  3. PRECISION. Narrow the scope of your statement to the most salient points.
  4. SIMPLICITY. Environmentalists are translators. We take complex ideas and simplify them so people can understand them. If people don't understand, they don't care.
  5. URGENCY. A personal connection to an issue motivates people to act. Messages must be compelling. One way to add energy to messages is to determine whether the issue is best, worst, first, last, most important, etc.
  6. PERSISTENCE. In today's world compelling messages don't penetrate unless they are heard over and over and over.
  7. ACCURACY. Good messages are factually correct and never hyperbolic.

It is important to NOT cram everything into the first two or three paragraphs of an essay, article, press release, letter, or any other formal written publication.

  1. Decide what is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you are trying to say and say that in the first three paragraphs.
  2. The third paragraph, known as the "nut" paragraph, should summarize the point of the piece and answer these questions: What does it mean? Why should the reader care?
  3. The nut paragraph provides the reader with clarity and FOCUS. The nut paragraph is the most important of any essay or article
  4. Well-crafted articles follow a logical progression.
    • Write a lead that quickly alerts the reader to the topic of your piece.
    • Summarize your case in the nut paragraph.
    • Provide background on the issue and its history.
    • In the body of the essay, give readers facts that support the nut paragraph. As a general rule, a good, effective 800-word piece consists of no more than six to eight new facts.
    • End the piece with a conclusion that circles back to your lead. Your last paragraph should be able to function as your lead paragraph and also as your nut paragraph.
  5. The lead, nut paragraph, and conclusion serve as the essence of your argument and
    should be practically interchangeable.
  6. A good piece of writing is shaped like a football:



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