These examples are designed to bring the Framework for Successful Messaging to life and inspire you to think about the four elements of Strategy, Safety, Positive Narrative, and Guidelines when developing or choosing your own messages and materials.
- The examples are intended as inspiration; resist the urge to imitate or adopt others’ messaging without thinking through your own goals, audiences, and how it fits in with your overall efforts. In other words, always start with Strategy.
- While the Framework for Successful Messaging outlines core principles for developing messages that research tells us are more likely to be safe and effective, conducting evaluation is the only true test. Most of these examples weren’t evaluated, so unless the description mentions research outcomes, we simply don’t know whether or not they were effective in achieving their goals.
Organization shares a program success story on their blog: an employee who attended suicide prevention training vividly recounts how it enabled them to help their own child
What it is:
This blog post, which appeared on the Policy Research Associates (PRA) website, was written by a PRA employee who is also a parent. The parent describes attending a suicide prevention training and feeling interested but comfortably distant from the training content because it was aimed at a different professional audience. Nevertheless, the training successfully instilled the core message, which is to “ask” if you suspect someone is considering suicide. The post describes the parent’s surprise and gratitude at later noticing signs of depression in their own child and having the courage and knowledge to ask the questions and being able to get the right help.Tags: Blog, Personal stories, Promote an organization or program
This organization’s mission to “create positive social change” is front and center on its website. The blog post provides one small but vivid example of how PRA is achieving that aim. Sharing this programmatic success story serves multiple goals. The focus on positive outcomes positions the organization as effective and credible (an important message for funders, partners, potential program participants, and other stakeholders). It also supports broader prevention goals by illustrating how suicide prevention training can build the knowledge and skills needed to identify people at risk of suicide and connect them with services and supports. By describing the signs of depression and how to ask about suicide, the post incorporates information about when and how to act. It builds in motivation to learn these skills by highlighting the tangible benefits the parent received from the training. The post also prominently features the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline logo as a resource for immediate help. Having the parent tell their own story in the first person gives it authenticity and heart.
This post does not include any unsafe content, such as making suicidal behavior seem romantic or attractive or oversimplifying its causes.
This blog clearly conveys a Positive Narrative about suicide, specifically that there are actions people can take to help prevent it and that treatment can work. It also enables readers to picture vividly what the parent learned in the training and how the knowledge was translated into action.
Guideline Example relevant to this type of message:
For guidance on proactively and systematically gathering program success stories, see Impact and Value: Telling Your Program’s Story. While this resource was developed for oral health program managers, the content applies to any organization or program.
“When I asked my child, “are you thinking of killing yourself?” and the answer was “yes,” I was so grateful that I had the courage and knowledge to ask the question. My child was relieved, as though a pressure had been lifted.”