Now, that’s not to say that organizations that employ this strategy always are exploiting children, although in many instances that certainly is open to debate. However, it is a strategy and tactic that is practiced frequently and is critical to reputation management, whether you are on offense or defense.
The Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) is a West Coast think tank that, according to its website, “… helps community and public health groups practice media advocacy—the strategic use of mass media to advance policies that improve health.” In a free society such as ours, BMSG’s true intentions certainly can be open for debate (as are the intentions of any organization), but there can little doubt that framing issues around children is a practice that the group employs.
In a paper called “Accelerating Policy on Nutrition” that BMSG issued in 2005 there is a section entitled: “The political opportunity of children and youth.” The opening passage of the section reads: “Most agree that in the policy realm there is often a strategic advantage to framing issues around children. Children are sympathetic because they are innocent.”
Now, before readers are left with the impression that this practice is the sole purview of liberal-leaning groups such as BMSG, recent actions by the United States Department of Labor have caused conservatives to employ similar strategies and tactics.
Recent reports have indicated that the Labor Department is putting the finishing touches on a rule that will “ban kids from doing farm chores.” The move triggered an avalanche of criticism from conservative politicians and, you guessed it, kids. Farm kids.
Whether the children who were quoted in the stories on this subject spoke on their own or were prompted by conservatives seeking to take their latest jab at the Obama Administration also is open for debate.
What isn’t debatable is that framing issues around kids is a key element of corporate reputation and issues management, regardless of which side of an issue you happen to fall on.
Ignore this reality at your own risk.