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Communication Tools: The Copy platform


Turning the message into actual copy - whether it is to be used in the recommendations of a briefing paper, a press release, a publicity campaign, or as sound-bite at breakfast with a minister - is another set of skills. The assumption is that there is limited time and space to get a message across and this creates three golden rules (Lattimer, p96):

  • Simplicity - concentrate on just one message or image;
  • Repetition - recall improves with repetition of an idea presented in different ways;
  • Corporate identity - visual characteristics such as logo, typography and colour scheme should be as uniform across a message as possible.

Once a message's position is clarified and simplified, the 'copy platform' provides the vehicle for bringing it alive. This might be a story, a joke or an analogy that will appeal to the target audience.

'Think tanks promote ideas and simplify policy analysis through the use of metaphor and the creation of symbols' (Stone, 1996:136).

The textbook copy-righter's formula suggests following the AIDA rule:

  • A - Attract attention of the target
  • I - Raise the interest in the message or evidence
  • D - Encourage a feeling of desire
  • A - Prompt action and present a solution

The copy platform is another way of considering how to frame or package a message (New Weave, p235-238). This involves:

  • Translating the story or evidence into larger social and political problems
  • Assigning primary responsibility for the problem
  • Presenting a clear solution
  • Spelling out proposals
  • Developing images that highlight the values behind the position

This tool first appeared in the ODI Toolkit, Tools for Policy Impact