What is a Top Level Message?

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“Messaging” and “messages” can mean different things to different individuals. For this reason, it is valuable to define what a Top Level Message is for the purposes of this document:  

A Top Level Message is the underpinning of a successful public outreach campaign. It is a definitive and easily-understood statement about the Internet Society’s vision, Internet Society’s opinion or the actions taken by the Internet Society with respect to certain issues. A Top Level Message should answer the questions of who, what, when, where, why and how, and should be understandable in the absence of detailed context. A good Top Level Message also shows how the Internet Society’s position or its actions differ from those of competitors.

The Internet Society’s goals, values, beliefs, structure and membership, alongside the language the Internet Society uses to engage the public, are important elements of the Internet Society communications program, but are NOT in and of themselves Top Level Messages.

 An ongoing process- Messaging is never finished

 It must also be stated that the development of messaging is an ongoing process and that this document represents only the first phase of a longer term strategy that seeks to ensure that Internet Society spokespeople are consistent in the way  they communicate. With that in mind, it is expected that the development, management and refinement of the Internet Society’s key messages will continue to take place through a process driven by the Internet Society’s Communications Team.   

 As this process continues, it is appropriate to also take note of the following guidelines as additions are made to ISOC’s Top Level Messages:  

·       A Top Level Message need not represent the sum total of the Internet Society’s knowledge or focus, but it should represent the most important concept associated with a particular issue.  

·       To be effective, Top Level Messages should appeal to the broadest possible audience.  

·       To be effective, Top Level Messages should be short and jargon-free.  

·       Where possible, messages should be supported by proof points (typically consisting of data, research or definable actions). 

 Distilled messages - How was this document created?

Given the complex nature of the issues that the the Internet Society focuses upon, its global nature, as well as the specialization of roles among members of ISOC leadership, it is not realistic or practical for a single individual to be in a position to respond to, or comment upon, the wide swath of potential questions from the media, policymakers or other stakeholders. A project was therefore instituted in order to arrive at a set of messages which represented not only the current key focus areas for the organization, but also simplified and easy-to-share statements that any person in the the Internet Society can deliver to any audience (but most often, to the media).

Through multiple telephone and in-person interviews, meetings and strategy discussions, the Internet Society Comms and external advisors have combined the perspectives and ideas of multiple internal stakeholders and members of the Executive Team to arrive at a set of Top Level Messages that are reflective of the group’s thoughts.  In that regards, this document provides a distilled set of foundation messages.   This document is NOT the sum total of the the Internet Society’s knowledge or positions relating to any conceivable issue in any geographic market. Rather, the Top Level Messages in the subsequent sections of this document does provide the following:

·       Message consistency among all ISOC spokespeople and representatives. 

·       At-a-glance responses to allow spokespeople to effectively respond to questions outside their area of expertise.  

·       Agreed-upon language for rapid response to media queries.  

·       Agreed-upon language for the development of Chapter PR and marketing materials. 

·       Tools for the Internet Society Comms to develop marketing and PR collateral materials as well as other collateral (Web site ccntent, press releases, speeches, presentations, etc.).


What is NOT a message?Concepts, Language and Values

As noted above, there are many communications tools, including mission statements, values and goals, which are extremely important, but are not necessarily messages. However, given the importance of these ‘non-messages” the section below outlines many concepts and ideas that are part of the way the the Internet Society will conduct global engagement and media outreach.


The Top Level Messages do not expressly define certain specific concepts and terms, insofar as these ideas are not identified as “messages” in and of themselves (but are rather are referenced within Top Level Message and Key Supporting Messages). The Internet Ecosystem and Internet Model are the two most notable examples of key the Internet Society concepts that must be clearly defined for the purpose of effective communications but are not themselves messages. For this reason, below are two definitions of these concepts:  

·       The Internet Ecosystem:  

Internet Ecosystem is the term used to describe the environment of organizations and communities that collectively guide the operation and development of the technologies and infrastructure that comprise the global Internet. These organizations share common values for the open development of the Internet. 

·       The Internet Model: 

Internet Model describes the common set of development and operating values—such as open standards, freely accessible processes, transparent governance—shared among many of the key communities and organizations that have been central to the development and ongoing evolution of the Internet. 


Language anchors are another aspect to messaging, not expressly indentified in the Top Level Messages below, but are also important to message consistency. They are concepts, or [English-language] buzzwords, that routinely surface when conducting outreach and are therefore important themes, but are not messages. Rather, language anchors are terms and expressions that should routinely appear in all communications and outreach in order to drive wider adoption of terms by the Internet Society supporters, advocates and even the media.   

·       “Open and Transparent Internet”  

·       “Internet Evolution” 

·       “The Global Internet”  

·       “Don’t Take the Internet for Granted” 

Values, principles & goals 

Though basedon the values, principles and goals that the Internet Society has defined for itself, the Top Level Messages in this document are not designed to reflect the extensive mandate the Internet Society has set for itself. Rather, the Top Level Messages in the following section are informed and guided by these values, principles and goals which have not been developed with external stakeholders in mind.   

Below are the principles and goals the Internet Society has defined for itself:  

·       Open, unencumbered, beneficial use of the Internet.  

·       Self-regulated content providers; no prior censorship of on-line communications.  

·       On-line free expression is not restricted by other indirect means such as excessively restrictive controls over computer hardware or software, telecommunications infrastructure, or other essential components of the Internet, whether imposed by government or the private sector [could be operators].  

·       Open forums for the development of standards and Internet technology. No discrimination in terms of handling network traffic based on application or service type 

·        Transparancy and consent when appropriate relating to the use of Personal information generated on the Internet.  

·       Internet users may encrypt their communication, files in personal data stores, cloud accounts, other on-line assets and information without restriction.  

·       Encouragement of cooperation between networks: connectivity is the high level goal/benefit and cooperation among network operators allows those benefits to be shared. 


Internet Society purposes and goals  

Flowing from the principles set out above, the Internet Society's main purpose is to maintain and extend the development and availability of the Internet and its associated technologies and applications. This is both an end in itself and a means of enabling organizations, professionals and individuals worldwide to more effectively collaborate, cooperate and innovate in their respective fields and interests.  

The Internet Society's specific goals include: 

·       Development, maintenance, evolution and dissemination of standards for the Internet and its Internetworking technologies and applications.  

·       Growth and evolution of the Internet architecture.  

·       Maintenance and evolution of effective administrative processes necessary for operation of the global Internet and Internets.  

·       Education and research related to the Internet and Internetworking.  

·       Harmonization of actions and activities at international levels to facilitate the development and availability of the Internet.  

·       Collection and dissemination of information related to the Internet and Internetworking, including histories and archives.  

·       Assisting technologically developing countries, areas, and peoples in implementing and evolving their Internet infrastructure and use.  

·       Liaison with other organizations, governments and the general public for coordination, collaboration and education in effecting the above purposes.  

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