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Ordering from a menu of messages

This week I taught a "Building Extension's Public Value" workshop for University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. (It wasn't exactly warm in Lincoln, but it was nice and sunny and at least warmer than here at home!) While the UN-L work groups were drafting public value messages for their programs, a few of them wrestled with the trade-off between brevity and completeness. Should they draft a message that names all of the behavior changes, outcomes, and public benefits their program generates, sort of like a logic model? Or should they draft something that is shorter and "punchier" that tells only a single story: naming a single set of behavior change-outcome-public benefit?


For communicating with a single stakeholder who has an identifiable concern (e.g., the county commissioner who is concerned about demand for public services, or the business owner concerned about property values), the short, one story message might be best. But, it might be useful for a program team to draft the more comprehensive message for their colleagues within the organization. Then Extension staff could pick and choose from the list of changes, outcomes, and public benefits to create messages that they can use for various purposes. The idea arose for a "menu" of changes, outcomes, and public benefits from which we could choose one from column A, one from column B, and one from column C to form an appealing meal...I mean: message. Different messages for different stakeholders and different stakeholder concerns.

What do you think? Do you have an idea about how to organize and implement a public value message menu?


Laura, I love this idea! We are working on something sort of like this in our unit (I work in communications in food, ag, natural resources) -- a clothesline of impact stories and leads from which we can draw. Right now we have them in an Excel spreadsheet. I would love for it to be an easy-to-use searchable database that anyone in Extension could add to using a short form.

Have you started collecting this menu of public value messages?

Rebecca, I have been collecting public value messages to use as examples in BEPV trainings, but I haven't tried to organize them into something searchable--my collection is more like a file of scraps of paper. A key element will be that the messages need to be critiqued and vetted so that users of the database/menu can be confident that the messages are defensible.