The Changing the Conversation website provides a rigorously developed and tested set of messages that have been shown to resonate with both young people and adults. Now you may be asking, “Well, what do I do with them…?”
Here we provide some very general guidance for using the messages and related materials from this site. This not a how-to guide. However, combined with knowledge of your current messaging efforts, resources, and audiences, these tips—along with creativity and vision—will help you “change the conversation” about engineering.
Show, Don’t Tell
The messages will have the most impact if they are not used in isolation but are combined with images that fit the spirit of the messages. Simply using a message as a heading for a webpage or brochure is fine as far as it goes, but given the difficulty the profession has had connecting itself with life-changing innovations, associating the message with relevant images of people, technologies, and situations provides important context that can increase relevance for your target audiences.
Use Multiple Media
The messages can be incorporated into a variety of media creations. They can be used on recruitment post-cards, on displays at job and school fairs, on websites, on videos shared through the Internet, or in TV and radio spots. Any outreach effort, advertisement, or attempt to communicate with the public about engineering can use the messages, in any medium.
Getting the messages, imaging, and media right are only part of the challenge. Messaging that actually changes perceptions requires consistency within an organization as well as across like-minded organizations. Within an organization, messaging effectiveness is increased when different internal units cooperate toward a common messaging goal. Broader impact can be achieved when multiple organizations find ways to synch their messaging efforts.
Learn From Others
Observing and learning from the successes and challenges faced by other organizations will increase the odds that your own efforts will pay off. The resources and community-building features on this website can promote this learning.
Collect Impact Data
It is important to try to collect information about how your messaging efforts are affecting your target audiences, whether they are potential future students, potential customers for your products and services, the policy-making community, or even your own employees. Documenting these impacts will allow you to make mid-course adjustments in your outreach when things are not going well, identify and understand your successes, and justify the costs of messaging activities.