Ever Since…Engaging Your Audience Through Memories

As communicators, we are tasked with guiding our audiences to see the world on our terms or to make sense of the sights and sounds all around them. Often, we can create tools to help an audience consume and process information quickly and effectively.

I recently had a chance to hear a talk from author and social media mentor Rabbi David Bashevkin. I will admit to being a true fan of his work – key among them is his role in creating an ongoing online dialogue about how we can take in new ideas and information that might conflict with what we think we know and feel. In the presentation, he shared a powerful tool for how he thinks about life memories. He is a must-follow on Twitter @DBashIdeas and is the author of four books.

When it comes to memories, one path to process them is what he calls, “Remember When…”  This is a wistful approach to remembering a moment or experience. An example might be, “Remember when that legislation was passed?” The “Remember When” approach counts on a shared past and marks an important milestone. However, it may lack an opening to engage someone in making a shared mental leap to the future.

What blew my mind was his second approach to memories. He calls it “Ever Since.” Imagine saying to your friend or key audience, “Ever since that legislation passed…we’ve moved forward on this issue and changed lives together.” There is an inherent sense of collaboration and future focus that can be magnetic.

Once presented with these two approaches to memories or shared moments, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about using this tool in public relations, political advocacy, and building support on important issues. Here are a few examples of how this tool might be applied.

Housing Advocacy:

  • Remember when we passed that Bond Measure to support affordable housing?  That was a great moment for this community.
  • Ever since we passed that Bond Measure for supporting affordable housing, we’ve become a national leader, we’ve housed 1,100 people experiencing homelessness and we’ve worked to make sure no veteran or child is sleeping outdoors.

Funding for Universal Preschool:

  • Remember when the Governor set aside funds to support an entirely new grade, Pre-K, for California’s Children?  That was a huge win.
  • Ever since the Governor set aside funds to support an entirely new grade, Pre-K, 150,000 new students have enrolled and are going to be fully prepared to succeed in Kindergarten and close the stubborn achievement gap.

Land Conservation:

  • Remember when President Obama used the Antiquities Act to preserve the San Gabriel Mountains?  That really helped.
  • Ever since President Obama used the Antiquities Act to preserve the San Gabriel Mountains, communities have benefited from new travel-related activities, hikers have benefited from restored trails, and thousands of students will have new access points to explore their wilderness.

As a communicator, you may need to be thoughtful about which of these approaches might work for you and your cause. In many cases, shared nostalgia may be a powerful unifying force.

I know that the “Ever since…” approach is one I hope to road test soon with our strategic communications clients. We’ll let you know how it goes.

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