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7 Questions with Poker Legend Annie Duke on Decision-Making Elena Veatch Annie Duke shares her insight on making smarter decisions in life and in politics Annie Duke is a decision-making expert and a former professional poker player. She won her first World Series of Poker, as well as the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, in 2004. In 2010, she went on to win the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Annie Duke founded a nonprofit called How I Decide in 2014 that helps young people develop stronger decision-making skills. Prior to her professional poker playing career, Annie Duke was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship and studied cognitive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She recently authored Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions. We talked with Annie Duke about how we make decisions, and how we can make better ones in life and in politics.   1. How much should people trust their intuitions in making decisions? Be wary of any justification of a decision that goes something like, “My gut is telling me this is right,” because intuition as a decision-making tool is only as good as our ability to communicate to another human being why our gut is telling us something. Intuition is an automatic, reflexive process by which we come to some understanding without the aid of conscious reasoning. Our gut is certainly an indispensable tool in our decision-making arsenal. We make so many decisions in any given day that, if we stopped and deliberated about every decision, we’d be paralyzed. We would never make it out of the door in the morning. Intuition is necessary simply because we don’t have the luxury of enough time to fully deliberate on every decision. But our gut is also deeply subject to bias. If we never make intuition accountable to conscious reasoning, we’re never going to notice it. Unchecked, intuition will lead us astray. If we can't adequately explain the reason that we think the intuitive path is the best path, then we should question our intuition. If we can’t explain a decision such that another person could learn from it and repeat that decision for themselves, we should reexamine the intuitive choice. And “because my gut is telling me so” should never count as an adequate explanation. By making our gut accountable to conscious reasoning, the intuitive choice will more often converge with the rational choice. We will spot more of the times when intuition leads us astray and reinforce our gut feeling when it leads us to a good decision. This refines and hones our gut, sharpening our intuition.   2. How can folks combat their cognitive biases to become more effective decision makers? This is a “good news-bad news” situation. The bad news is that we know several things that don’t help much in combating bias. First, knowing about such biases doesn’t help much. We have big blind spots to our own biases. Second, being smart doesn’t help. In fact, in many instances, extra expertise or brain power just means more mental agility to spin a biased story that fits our preferred narrative. The good news is that we are good at spotting biases in other people. You can see this on both sides of the aisle in politics. One side will claim bias on the other, often correctly. The other side will call the first side out on bias, also often correctly. But nobody seems to be recognizing the biases in their own thinking. We can use that to our advantage to recruit other people to help spot our biases and we can do the same for them. The group can offer each other alternate perspectives, fill holes in the information we have, offer up alternative hypotheses, and argue the opposing side. A decision pod does two great things for you. First, if the group is committed to honestly exploring all sides of an issue – rather than being an echo chamber to confirm each other’s beliefs – the decisions you work through together are going to be better. Second, the mere existence of a group that we know, in advance, will hold us accountable to our beliefs and decisions helps us to be more rational in our thinking on our own. If we know we’ll have to answer to the group later for the decisions we make, the group gets in our head in a good way, making in-the-moment gaffes less likely and sharpening our intuitive responses.   3. How does embracing uncertainty and thinking in bets allow people to make better decisions? How does this play out in politics? Thinking in bets is, literally, the process of imagining if we’d be willing to bet on our beliefs and predictions. Thinking about whether (and how much) we’d be willing to bet triggers us to vet our beliefs. To win at a bet, we do better if we consider what information might confirm or disconfirm our belief, think about why a belief might not be true, and imagine alternative hypotheses. Thinking in bets acts as an antidote to our tendency to entrench and polarize. It causes us to recognize where and why we might be uncertain, leading us to calibrate and refine our beliefs. And the more accurate the beliefs we hold, the better our decisions will be because every decision we make is informed by our beliefs. Imagine how thinking in bets can inoculate us against fake news or disinformation. The danger of fake news isn’t that it will change our minds and convince us of things that don’t gel with our world view. The danger is that it will cause us to retreat further into the beliefs we already hold, making those views more and more extreme. Fake news silos us. What if we had to bet on whether a story we read was true? We’d start the vetting process: being more critical in evaluating sources and looking at the case made by people potentially betting against us. That open mindedness would serve us well in politics right now. A second example of how thinking in bets could help political discourse is in our attitudes about polls. Polls are predictions. They are probabilistic. They are not black-and-white, right-and-wrong. Unfortunately, the public looks to polls for answers that are certain (and pundits tend to oblige). We can see, from the last presidential election, how looking to polls for certain answers mucks things up. Nate Silver had Trump at a 30-40% chance of winning in the week leading up to the election. When Trump won, a lot of people declared, “Nate Silver got it wrong.” They refused to recognize that predictions about the future are, by definition, uncertain. Do you know how often 35% happens? That’s how often a major league batting champion gets a hit. That’s how often in a week Monday and Tuesday and half of Wednesday come around. Imposing false certainty on a series of predictions has made it easier for people to dismiss polls, calling them fake news. But if we had all been better at thinking in bets, we would have recognized the uncertainty in the outcome of the election in the first place and no one would be declaring the polls “wrong.”   4. Can political campaigns harness lessons from behavioral/decision sciences to better persuade voters? Our concept of “identity” is a driving force in our decisions and our worldview. We need to resolve conflicts in a way that protects our fundamental view of ourselves. Because we are tribal in nature, our political party becomes our tribe and, consequently, part of our identity. To encourage party members to vote, a sound behavioral strategy is to pose their voting decision as a matter of identity, rather than as a matter of action. On the Democratic side, for example, it would be more powerful to ask, “Are you a Clinton voter?”, than “Are you planning to vote for Clinton?” In the first case, you’re creating an identity and asking if they will behave in a way consistent with that identity. In the second, you’re asking about an action they may or may not take. You can also encourage voters to make the act of voting part of their identity. (That’s where the ubiquitous “I voted today” stickers came from.) That’s not strictly a party-identification act, but it’s likely to be party-favorable. We already know that people are reluctant to cross their party. In attempting to persuade party members who don’t like the candidate, an alternative could be to appeal to an identity that supersedes their political party (“Americans” or “citizen-participants in government”). (I highly recommend the work of Todd Rogers, a professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, on how you can harness the ideas of behavioral economics to persuade voters.)   5. How can voters make smarter decisions? One example of how thinking probabilistically about voting can lead to smarter decisions involves crossover voting in primary elections. If you’re voting in a primary election and your choice within your preferred party is inconsequential (your preferred candidate has a huge lead, or the candidates are close and you are indifferent to which becomes the party’s nominee), consider crossover voting. By voting in the opposing party’s primary, you can vote for the candidate that is the most palatable to you in case the opposing party wins the general election. I live in Pennsylvania, a battleground state, and I wrote a blog about maximizing the value of your vote by crossover voting before the Pennsylvania primary in 2016. A friend of mine told me he followed that advice. He was a lifelong Democrat and his preferred candidate was Hillary Clinton, who was leading in the polls by fifteen percent. Since his preferred candidate was ahead by so much, he felt his vote didn’t matter so much on the Democratic side.  There were a couple Republican candidates he was very uncomfortable with, but one he preferred if the next president was a Republican. He changed his registration to Republican and voted in the primary for John Kasich. Few people do this, and what happened to my friend later explains why. When he told his mother that he changed his registration – just for the primary – to vote for the most palatable Republican candidate, she was apoplectic. “ARE YOU CRAZY? If you get hit by a bus tomorrow, that means you’ll die a Republican!” As long as we place our party – our tribe – above our beliefs, we’re in danger of missing ways to make our vote more valuable.   6. Why do people think they can predict outcomes with 100 percent certainty? People don’t necessarily think they can predict outcomes with 100% certainty. Deep down, we all recognize that the future is uncertain, but that makes us uncomfortable. We associate certainty with knowledge and confidence, and we feel more comfortable thinking things happen for reasons (and not randomly) and that we are in control of how our lives turn out. We were built to think in cause and effect. When our ancestors were on the savannah and heard rustling, it could be the wind or it could be a lion. Our survival depended on making judgments about those connections – and if we weren’t sure, it was safer to bet on lion. Because we avoid thinking about uncertainty, we default to thinking about beliefs and predictions as 0% or 100%, black and white, right and wrong. That’s what happened in the interpretation of the 2016 presidential polls. That’s why pundits don’t waffle. They fulfill our need to think that the world is a certain and predictable place.   7. You run a nonprofit that helps young people hone their critical thinking and decision-making skills. How do you go about teaching these skills to kids? Is it harder to get adults to recalibrate? How I Decide provides programming to underserved middle schoolers to improve each stage of the decision-making process, from emotional control to probabilistic thinking. Our Mindful Choices program improves decision fitness. If someone is in an emotional state, it doesn't matter how much they know about decision-making; they won’t be able to execute on it. Mindful practice improves the ability to calm down in the moment of a decision and get into a more rational place. HabitWise teaches kids about habit formation. Because we make so many decisions automatically (intuition!), kids need the ability to identify good habits from bad habits. Once they've identified the habits that they want to change, HabitWise helps them develop the tools to change those habits. GM Genius is a fantasy football program that teaches kids about cognitive biases and how to think more probabilistically. In general, all of these areas are places where adults need improvement as well. Adults can learn to be better decision-makers. But, just like kids, they need help. The fastest way for adults to improve is to form a good decision group committed to open-minded discourse, representing diverse viewpoints, and holding each member accountable for biased thinking.   BONUS QUESTIONS: 8. Do you play cards with your kids? What do you play? Yes, as long as you count Apples-to-Apples.   9. You were the runner-up on Celebrity Apprentice in 2009. Any thoughts on what kind of strategy you would use to play poker against President Trump? I’m pleading the fifth on this one. I hope someday I may actually play against him and I don’t want to reveal my strategy.   10. Have you read anything lately that you think sheds light on the American electorate? I recently read a great paper by Jay Van Bavel and Andrea Pereira from NYU that delves into how political parties are tribal in nature. They identify the social benefits of political party affiliation: “For example, political rallies and events can satisfy belonging needs; party elites, partisan media, and think tanks provide policy information; in-group members model norms for action; electoral success confers status and power; and party policy provides guidance on the appropriateness of values.” Our political affiliation has been shown to affect how we do math equations, our memory, and even how we perceive the world.   I think the most surprising (and counter-intuitive!) finding is that when our ideology conflicts with a policy of our political party, we resolve the conflict by changing our belief rather than changing our political party. Political party, not policy, is in the driver’s seat when it comes to our identity.   Thu, 22 Mar 2018 08:00:00 EDT
Why Do I Need Good Political Campaign Photography? Sophie Thurber Political Campaign Photography Shoots Are Worth the Money Good political campaign photography is a must. Good political campaign photography is the cornerstone of a quality communications program. We’ve all seen bad political advertising. It’s a kind of bad that transcends the traditional meaning of the word. But it doesn’t have to be all European stock photos misused in Kentucky or stock photos of supposed endorsers (good grief, do NOT do this!). We can do better. While this post is particularly salient if you’re a candidate or membership institution that needs to include photos of your members or candidate in your communications, I’d say that if you’re putting together any sort of communications program or ad campaign that involves a visual element, you should think about investing in a custom campaign photo shoot. Obviously, there is a time and a place for stock photography. It can be an incredible tool, and while prices vary (think $15 to hundreds of dollars), you can usually find something to fit your budget if you look hard enough. But there will be times when you can’t get what you need from a stock photo retailer (e.g. candidate headshots or photos of your members). While it’s certainly appealing to forgo the cost of hiring a professional photographer by finding someone you know that has a camera and a desire to help you out, don’t do it. Pennywise and pound-foolish is a saying for a reason. First, there is the basic difference in the quality you’ll get back. Professional photographers make their living taking pictures, and it shows. I can usually tell immediately when I get amateur photos from clients, and likely so can the recipients of your communications. Good photos serve to highlight and enhance your message, and bad ones will distract from it, plain and simple. There is definitely a movement toward imagery and footage that feels more “authentic,” but don’t confuse that with low-quality work. Instead, that means your campaign photography should be minimally retouched (skin should look like skin, not an oil painting) and reflective of who you (or your members, or your constituents) are. You’re not campaigning to be Glamour Shots Master. Second, a custom campaign photo shoot doesn’t have to cost you tons of money. Most photographers will work with you if you’re facing budget constraints (they’re people too!). You don’t have to rent out expensive studio space either – most of these shoots will benefit from a more organic location. Is there a nice park in your area that would provide a good backdrop? Does one of your supporters or members have a sunny living room where you could shoot? Is there a plain brick wall against which you could shoot some headshots? If you feel you do need a studio, don’t hesitate to ask the photographer if they have any suggestions. Third, custom political campaign photography is an investment and should aim to create a reliable photo library for your campaign or organization. Essentially, you’re investing in your own stock photography – photos that you can return to again and again for your communications needs. So, while your initial expenditure might be more than you’d spend on a photo or two, what you get should really pay for itself over time. Quick tip: When you are planning a photo shoot, make sure that you negotiate ownership of and rights to all the high-resolution files. If for some reason the photographer or consultant objects to those terms, find another photographer/consultant. At the end of the day, custom campaign photography means your campaign or organization can get the exact photos you want, and you can plan for your future needs, all while saving money over the course of the long-term and ensuring that your communications include high-quality images that enhance your message. More questions on political campaign photography or campaign photo shoots? Drop us an email or comment below.   Mon, 19 Mar 2018 08:00:00 EDT
7 Questions with consultant and researcher, Steve Vancore Mike DeVoll 7 Questions with Steve Vancore Steve Vancore is a political consultant and researcher. He is the founding partner at VancoreJones Communications, a political consulting firm that works on legislative communications, public relations, and political campaigns from local races to statewide races. He is also the president of Clearview Research, which focuses on polling and focus group research, and teaches in the Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy program at Florida State University. 1. How’d you get started in politics? I had never voted or cared much about politics until, at the age of 25, I was hired by a very large statewide association as their Demographer. I was the in-house computer nerd. I learned from the ground up, literally plugging in phone lines and running phone banks and a polling center, and then building the first statewide voter file from the 67 large reel data tapes and a university supercomputer.  2. What makes politics and campaigning in Florida different? Florida is diverse and always changing.  We are a migratory destination state and people come from an amazing array of places…from New York, Ohio, of course most of the Northeast, but also from South and Central America as well as Puerto Rico. Just keeping up with those changes can be a full-time job. Oh, and did I mention Haiti and Cuba?  3. What is one mistake political professionals make when reading polling? Only one? Well, the biggest is the assumption that a snapshot in time is the final result. If we applied that concept to football, Tom Brady would likely be known just as a great quarterback. They also fail to ensure that the poll was properly modeled – consultants need to grill their pollsters more.  (Ok, I know that was two!) 4. You have spoken about the Salt Shaker test in determining the validity of polls. Can you explain the Salt Shaker test and how you use it in your work? We believe in robust modeling. Too many publicly pushed polls are not modeled well and they either have poor techniques or have a sample that simply does not look like the likely voting population. We began those tests as a way to help consumers gauge the validity or reliability of those polls. We review the poll and try to determine if it meets the basic elements of a valid/reliable poll…does the sample look like the likely voting universe? How was the universe created? What is the sample size? Were likely voters randomly chosen (good) or did they opt in (bad)? We looked at polls that were published and had 10-percentage points more Democrats voting than there were in past elections…it was crazy. We stopped doing it, honestly, because we simply ran out of bandwidth. 5. How has Florida’s politics changed since you’ve been involved and what do you think are the biggest changes coming as we head into 2018? When I began, we had this concept known as “Election Day” where most voters cast a ballot on a specific day. Now elections are a month-long process – heck last year we were sending mail before July 4th!  Couple that with the reality that media is a fractured business and audiences are more diverse in their media consumption than ever before.  6. How likely is a 2018 Democratic takeover? Based on your experience, what should Democrats consider in shaping their 2018 campaign strategy?  Of the Florida House or Senate – not going to happen.  There simply are not enough swing seats on the table. The Democrats have a reasonable chance of winning the Governor’s mansion and, if national trade winds blow hard enough, a few cabinet seats. Additionally, we can/should pick up a few Congressional seats and hold the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Bill Nelson. 7. What are the most common campaign strategy mistakes? Candidates and consultants thinking they know better than voters. Follow your pollster’s counsel! The second most common mistake is to let people on the campaign who simply don’t know what they are doing start to call the shots and erode the over-arching campaign plan.   Bonus question: Have you read anything interesting lately that sheds light on the American electorate? I am reading Tim Wu’s Attention Merchants and it is an excellent narrative in how and why people consume certain media. I teach a course in Media Selection and Application in an FSU Master’s Program and thought this would be great fodder for the class (it is), but his narrative on changing media and consumer behavior is fascinating. * A big thanks to Steve Vancore for answering our 7 questions this week!  Thu, 15 Mar 2018 08:00:40 EDT
5 Ways to Amp Up Your Member Communication Elena Veatch Make Your Member Communication Count  With the 2018 election cycle ramping up, it’s never too early to build your member communication plan. By amping up your communication, you can harness the power of your membership and get results for the issues you care about. Whether you’re working for a labor union or an advocacy organization, these tips will help make your member communication program count. 1. Plan Ahead Building a strong member communication program takes time and planning. Get organized early so that you’re not scrambling to figure out budget, messaging, targeting, and the overall scope of your member communication program. Pin down your goals as soon as you can, so that you have plenty of time to build a program that achieves them.  2. Be Relevant If you want your message to resonate, be sure to focus on topics your members care about in your member communication program. Take the time to survey your members regularly on the issues, and take the insight you receive to heart to make your member communication relevant. Frame issues and candidates in a way that will resonate with your members and motivate them to turn out on Election Day. 3. Use Testimonials Testimonials that feature real people talking about the issues your members care about can make all the difference in your member communication. Having one of your members make the case to other members for why they’re supporting a candidate can make folks more emotionally invested in the outcome of a race. Pin down storytellers early who will make sense for the audience you’re communicating with. If you’re using a testimonial in a direct mail piece, be sure to get high-resolution photos of the people you feature, along with sign-off on any quotes you attribute to them before any piece goes to print. 4. Make the Stakes Clear Don’t beat around the bush in your member communication. Make the stakes of every election or ballot measure clear. Be direct with your members about the consequences of different outcomes so that they’re likelier to get involved and engage their personal networks. 5. Pin Down Goals Before Tactics Think about your goal and determine the best communication medium you can use to achieve it – don’t choose a tactic before you know your goal. If your goal is to get your members to turn out in a primary, figure out which mediums you can use to get your messaging in front of them and get results. If your members are older, direct mail may be the best way to communicate with them. If your members tend to get most of their information online, think about running digital ads instead. If budget allows, build an integrated member communication program to reinforce your messaging across mediums. Know your goal, and know your members in order to achieve it. Mon, 12 Mar 2018 08:00:46 EDT
7 Questions with Deepak Puri Co-Founder of Democracy Labs Hope Rohrbach 7 Questions with Deepak Puri Co-Founder of Democracy Labs on the Intersection of Campaigning and Technology Deepak Puri previously worked at Oracle, Netscape and VMware, and is now the co-founder of the San Francisco, non-profit Democracy Labs. By deploying technology and creative innovation, Democracy Labs offers affordable business solutions for progressive groups and candidates across the country. We asked Deepak 7 questions focused on the intersection of campaigning and technology. Read his insights here!  1. What was your inspiration for co-founding Democracy Labs? I'm a first-generation immigrant and have worked my whole career in Silicon Valley. I've been volunteering with many non-profits to show how they could make a bigger impact with less funds using software. I was never involved in politics but that changed after the 2016 Presidential election. I felt that it was a wake-up call for all of us to make sure that our elected leaders represented the majority of the public and not just vested interests. This was the inspiration for launching DemLabs, an SF based non-profit group under the Advocacy Fund. 2. What were the biggest challenges Democracy Labs faced in its first year? DemLabs is based in San Francisco (the heart of blue country) and we needed to determine how a small group could remotely help progressive groups and candidates in other parts of the country. The biggest challenge was understanding the political ecosystem, motivations and funding streams. Donnie Fowler who is a DemLabs co-founder and has extensive experience in the political realm was invaluable in determining where we could be most effective. DemLabs has been self-funded so we have to be strategic in how we used the limited time, energy and funds we had. We look for approaches that are scalable (ie. can help large numbers of campaigns quickly), affordable and effective. We don't develop new software but try to first understand the needs that are in common across campaigns, and then find existing software solutions that meet those needs. Applying existing software solutions to progressive campaigns, helps us lower costs and the training required. Plus the commercial vendors keep improving their software in order to stay competitive, whether there is an election or not. We've found that the product distribution channels from software developer to the customer (campaign) do not exist in the progressive political domain. We address this challenge by working with established political groups, PACs, political consultants, training and activist groups so that they can help distribute new skills to the candidates and campaigns that they're supporting.  3. Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs or those wanting to found a non-profit? The political market is small, seasonal (around election cycles) and cost sensitive. There's often little awareness of how new technology could help them. Purchasing decisions are often made based on prior relationships and experiences, rather than the merits of a new technology. It is also very time and effort intensive to connect with purchasing decision makers.    4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of technology? Technology can help campaigns reach more voters and collect donations with less time, money and effort. But it does require a commitment and time to understand and apply the new tools and be open to change. 5. How has technology simplified the campaigning process? How has it complicated it? Technology makes it easier to understand the mood of your electorate, tailor your message to their concerns, reach more people for less. It has increased the need for someone on the campaign to get trained and comfortable with technology. 6. What CRM would you recommend to those running a campaign on a limited budget? Why? ActionNetwork. It's a proven tool developed by and for progressive groups. 7. What blogs or influencers do you follow to stay up to date with the latest technology? I subscribe to ePolitics, Campaigns & Elections. BONUS: What is your take on artificial intelligence? Do you think technology will eventually eliminate the need to have people/volunteers on, for example, progressive campaigns? Never. Political campaigns are all about people. I don't see that changing. Bots can fool people online, but there's no substitute for a personal, authentic, compelling message from a live, human being.  Thank you, Deepak Puri and Democracy Labs for all do for the progressive movement. Want to reach out to Deepak Puri and Democracy labs connect with them at the above link.  Have a question about campaign tools or political technology drop us a note:       Thu, 08 Mar 2018 08:00:23 EST
Our #1 Tip to Make Your Canvassing a Success LaTwyla Mathias Canvass Training Will Make Your Canvass Count The 2018 election cycle is officially here! As candidates, by this point you have probably been knocking on doors for weeks and are finally at a place where you are ready to bring in the cavalry, your volunteers! For campaigns, we believe in doors, doors, and more doors.  Those doors translate into more voter contact and more identified targets for GOTV. Hitting doors in the right way is why having a structured and detailed canvass training is vitally important. Bringing in more troops is an exciting time which is why there is one critical tip that will make your canvass training a success. That tip is you can never be too prepared. Canvass training is a great way to demonstrate to your volunteers exactly how you want your message spread to the voters.  A canvass training should cover every conceivable thing that volunteers could run into on the doors. When training volunteers to hit the doors on your behalf, you will be addressing an audience from all walk of life.  Some who are new supporters, some old supporters, some who know your campaign message very well and some who don’t know it at all. Making sure that you are ready to answer questions, provide clear direction, and have contingency plans for the unexpected is key. Canvassing can be predictable if you do your research and prepare for what you don’t know. Have the volunteers attended a canvass training in the past? What type of terrain is the turf located in?  Is the turf in a gated community?  Is the neighborhood the right fit for this group of volunteers?  Do you have bottled water and snacks for everyone?  Are you prepared for unexpected volunteers who may show up?  These are all things you should be thinking about as you prepare to train your volunteers. With over preparation, you will make way for a fantastic canvass training and even more fantastic canvassing results. Have questions about canvas training? ask them here: Mon, 05 Mar 2018 08:00:42 EST
7 Questions with Gabriella Mirabelli Hope Rohrbach 7 Questions for Gabriella Mirabelli Gabriella Mirabelli is the CEO and Co-Owner of Anatomy Media, an Emmy Award winning creative marketing agency, which offers premium creative and research consulting services for world-class television and media brands. Gabriella Mirabelli also hosts the Up Next Podcast, which features new ideas in the media industry with innovative leaders in entertainment and business. 1. How have you seen the media industry evolve since you started your company in 2000? There isn’t enough room! My goodness. It’s changed … entirely. It’s gone from the niche field – yet still mass market - world of cable television to the portable, social, interactive, world of MY media. Millions of viewers are ‘networks of one’ and ruthlessly program what they want to see. If you want to be on their ‘channel’ you better give them a great experience and deliver what they’re looking for. Facebook started in 2004. YouTube started in 2005. Instagram started in 2010. I’m in the business of content discovery. These are the content discovery portals today. They didn’t exist when we opened our business. 2. What kind of films/documentaries sparked your directorial ambition? I love stories - all stories, fiction and non-fiction. I think that people understand their world through story – so it was really a matter of the stories that I thought needed to be told. I came late to the party for my documentary. It had stalled out. I actually never met the subject. I listened to the interviews and thought, “this man was dying and thought this film would be a record of his life and art. It’s unacceptable for it to just be in a box in a closet. His story needs to be told. The story of his art. The story of his life. The story of AIDS and what it did to the creative community. All of this needs to be told.” So my directorial ambition was sparked by necessity, as much as anything. 3. What common mistakes do organizations make in brand marketing? Broadly? Inconsistency. Failure to think about context. In the weeds? Failure to proofread. Failure to check facts. Failure to understand hashtags and pay attention to the fluid nature of social media. 4. What advice do you have for companies and organizations struggling to make their brand stand out in a crowded field? Understand what their brand is – and what it isn’t. A brand is simple and clear and must stand for something. Once a brand knows it’s voice, it needs to see the context in which it operates. Today, with digital platforms, it’s important to experiment, but do so in a thoughtful way. Measure what you do. Pursue what is successful and shed those things that don’t work. 5. What advice do you have for young people looking to work in the media industry? Oh boy. That’s a tough one. I think the first thing I say to anyone who wants to work in media is ask them WHY they want to work in the field. It’s a field that sometimes people think is glamorous and they like it for the cachet they think it will bring them or they think it’s “creative” and that rules don’t apply. Those people should not be heading into media because it will chew them up and spit them out. Working in media is a team sport and when you start out, you’re not the quarterback. So, if you’re going to succeed, it’s important to enjoy the work and to get on with doing your part of the job. You can’t be precious or a diva. 6. What can non-profit organizations and advocacy groups learn from media campaigns? Design matters. Language matters. People are influenced by design and by tone. How you say it is just as important (sometimes even more important) as what you’re saying. You can’t get people to hear you if they reject you from the get go. Media campaigns have always been about stealing your time and attention for something that you don’t think you need – so it’s always been important to slide into that welcoming space. Type and color can make someone feel friendly about a cause, or not. As the tools of design are democratized, there is a lot of bad design out there. I wouldn’t skimp on design. 7. What have you learned from your foray into podcasting? It’s been a wonderful experience. One of the most interesting things is seeing the ways in which skills or approaches in one field might have application in another. I love to bring new ideas to my clients – and while they aren’t new ideas, per se, they are new to their segment of the industry. I also really enjoy connecting invariably interesting people who are engaged in what they are doing with people they don’t know who have overlapping interests. It’s really shown me the power of weak ties - - which is something I always knew - - but it’s operationalized it. Bonus question: What’s the best film/television show you have watched as of recent? I’m in love with Electric Dreams on Amazon. It’s Amazon’s answer to Black Mirror. I love it. Thank you Gabriella Mirabelli for answering our questions. Have ideas for a future 7 questions post? Drop us a note. Thu, 01 Mar 2018 08:00:00 EST
Advocacy Engagement Funnel: Be Intentional About Advocacy Joe Fuld Advocacy Engagement Funnel: Don't Miss Your Advocacy Engagement Opportunity...  What is the advocacy engagement funnel? It is hard to be intentional about advocacy engagement. That is why we built this handy advocacy engagement funnel. Think of your advocacy strategy as a funnel. You need to define what a high-value contact vs. a low-value contact will be. You want to have a clear strategy to move your action-takers to make a more meaningful action. The more personal the action the higher the value. Check out our New Advocacy Funnel Infographic (See examples of action items and their engagement value) What is the difference between a marketing funnel and an engagement funnel? They are very similar. For a marketing funnel, you are turning leads into customers. In an engagement funnel, you are turning supporters into engaged activists. What do I do with people who don't seem engaged with my message or my content? If someone has never responded to you or engaged with you, delete them from your list. Your time is better off spent putting individuals who have engaged, in a basic way in the past, into an engagement funnel. In fact, it is important to know your membership. If you have clear membership guidelines and a good idea of what types of people are engaging with you, you will likely have more avenues and information to engage them - this is fantastic!  What is the easiest engagement? Petitions and patch through calls are easy engagements because of the ease and ubiquity of these methods. These engagements are ultimately short-lived, and, thus, can be thrown away in moments by the action taker once the activist, organization, and legislator will soon forget. What is the hardest engagement? The hardest engagement for folks to take is a personal one. The more personal the action - though valuable for both the short and long-term - the tougher it is to achieve. Legislators are inundated by the easy action while the personal ones stand out. These actions are also ones that solidify a relationship and transform either your high of low-value contact from a causal action taker to a real activist. Instead of thinking of engagement as a single stop think of it as a journey - only a thoughtful path creates real engagement. Where do folks get stuck?  Tracking funnel steps - using a CRM or even a spreadsheet can allow you to track specific engagements and several at a time.  How do you reconnect with folks? Why is this hard? For people you have had limited engagement with, start with the easiest engagement tactic in the funnel. To be successful you need to put yourself in the mindset of the target, and slowly build trust with indivdiuals who over time have fallen by the wayside.  However, because we are plugged into our missions, we make assumptions that our members and activists know what to do without being told - far from the case. This is a huge mistake. It is important to have a clear strategy post-acquisition. You need to establish what engagement means to you, and how you're going to continually engage and acquire people to be a part of your acquisition in the long term. Many people spend too much time and money acquiring members and activists without making the proper investments in keeping these connections.  Bottom line: By setting and holding yourself accountable for real goals and tracing them on a daily weekly and monthly basis, you will have a real chance of achievement. If you don’t set and track goals you are leaving it up to chance, because engagement is an investment and a process that, let me tell you, is 100 percent worth it! Have questions about the advocacy engagement funnel? Ask them here. Mon, 26 Feb 2018 08:00:50 EST
7 Questions with Paul Lage Elena Veatch Gill Studios CEO Paul Lage Answers Our Yard Sign Questions  Paul Lage is the President and CEO of Gill Studios, which includes Gill-line: the largest producer of political yard signs, decals, and bumper stickers in the country. We asked Paul for some industry tips to help campaigns navigate the process of designing and printing yard signs and other campaign materials. What are some of the greatest challenges of being in the political yard sign and bumper sticker business? Our greatest challenge is always “time” because a major portion of our business comes in during three months, August through October, every other year (around elections). So, we need to make sure we have the equipment and people to make products in a short period of time. We have been doing these products for a long time and have developed processes to handle this surge and still deliver everything on time. Campaigns are a very fluid process and a lot of decisions are made that require quick action.     How can campaigns make their yard signs and bumper stickers stand out? There are a couple of tricks. First, make the background a color and your imprint white or a light color. It makes the name stand out. Secondly, think about using some colors other than red and blue. Most yard signs (about 70 percent) are typically red, white, and blue. Sometimes you may want to differentiate your sign from the crowd, whether it’s through size, shape, or color. For example, every now and then, someone will create a green sign or have an unusual shape – ovals, flags, and states – and you definitely notice that yard sign from afar. Other suggestions would include printing your picture on the sign. It makes your message more personal. What do you wish campaigns would stop doing when designing yard signs?  The biggest mistake that candidates make when designing a sign is making it too busy. They will have a creative design, but it distracts the viewer from seeing the name on the sign. Along those same lines, some candidates will put too much copy or too many messages on the sign.  People need to remember that signs are like mini-billboards – people will be exposed to the sign for only a couple of seconds; there is no time to read a message. However, that same person will pass that sign multiple times every day. They will recognize the name. In fact, most people will complete a voter’s ballot based on party affiliation even if they don’t know the candidate. However, I believe that “primary advertising” often drives name recognition, and can often be a major influence when voting. When a race is nonpartisan or there are multiple candidates running in a primary, it helps to get your name out there so people recognize you on the ballot. What should campaigns do to print cheap yard signs?  I think people need to think of being effective versus being cheap. If you have a sign that blows over on a windy day or falls apart after a rain storm, then your cheap sign is a total waste of money. In fact, it could also be a reflection of your personal brand. People often order signs in August or earlier, and by September, they’ll realize their signs are falling apart and have to re-evaluate. So, I would first recommend picking suppliers that have a lot of experience in this part of the market. It is important to plug into the expertise of your supplier and interview people who are buying from them to ensure you get a quality sign. There are plenty of good choices out there, but you should go with the people who make signs regularly. If you want to save a little money or stretch a budget, then the easiest way is to limit the number of colors that you are printing. One color imprints can be very effective and more economical. Secondly, there are a variety of sizes that are available. Some smaller signs might even be more effective if they are put up in neighborhoods where they don’t compete for space. We see a lot of signs along the road where we are driving 45 mph or better and, in those cases, you want to use the biggest sign possible. Remember – signs are mini-billboards.   Are there other cost efficiencies campaigns can gain that they should be considering?  Buy early and have a plan for how you are going to use your signs. Some people order late and seem to be in a panic mode. Often, it seems that many of those signs don’t even get used. You should also know all the rules of the communities where you are placing signs. Finally, buy a mixture of sizes so you can put them in different areas where you can get the most exposure. The more sophisticated campaigns use three different sizes: 8 foots for major traffic areas, standard size signs for medians and slower traffic patterns, and smaller signs for neighborhoods or urban areas.  Bags vs. cardboard vs. polyboard – what is your favorite kind of yard sign? Do you have a favorite yard sign size? All of these signs have certain advantages and disadvantages. The bag signs are great for large campaigns because of the weight and space needed to transport the signs – these are the least durable of all the signs. Corrugated plastic is very popular – these signs are sturdy and durable. Because the plastic is corrugated, it is not the smoothest surface, so printing pictures and fine detail are sometimes inconsistent. Cardboard simply isn’t durable enough to be used outside, which limits your applications to indoors. My favorite is still the pre-glued polyboard. This material is similar to material used in milk cartons, and it is surprisingly more durable than you would think. It has a great surface to print on and it supports printing of pictures and fine detail. I don’t prefer the cardboard or polyboard signs that you have to manually staple yourself (or even the pre-stapled ones) because of the weak points on the sign. The key is getting your signs pre-glued.  How many colors is too many for a political yard sign? Is it ever worth it for a candidate to include their photo on a yard sign? I would recommend up to three colors as the max, unless you are printing a full-color sign. The majority of signs are two colors; flag red and flag blue represent over half of the signs produced. Everyone needs to know that the primary purpose of a sign is to create name recognition. Don’t overthink it. It needs to be legible and attractive. It is not an art project.  BONUS QUESTION What’s your favorite thing about yard signs and bumper stickers in the broader context of our politics? What I love about bumper stickers and yard signs is that they are about the last pieces of advertising that are still mainly positive. If you can get a community to put a decal on their car or a sign in their yard, you have created a very powerful endorsement. So, in this day of social media and community, we have actually been doing this for many years with these products.  Thanks so much to Paul Lage for answering our 7 questions about yard signs. Want to learn more? Visit to learn more about their approach to yard sign and bumper stickers.  Thu, 22 Feb 2018 08:00:00 EST
10 Questions Your Campaign Plan Should Address Joe Fuld 10 Questions Your Campaign Plan Should Answer It is campaign plan time. If you are running a campaign start writing a  plan now. Here are our tips on 10 questions a political campaign plan should answer. 10. Do I have a winning strategy? When you write a campaign plan, run to win – don't run not to lose. Take some bold stances and calculated risks. If you spend time being constantly worried if you are saying the right thing, you are not being bold enough, If you are don't have a strong, bold strategy you may not have a winning campaign plan. 9. Am I raising enough money? The lowest price car on the lot is usually not the right fit. It has too few doors, not enough seats, and is usually not built to last.  The same can be said for the lowest campaign plan budget. You cannot win with a campaign plan that is built on the lowest budget. Rather, your budget should be built around the budget that gets you to a win and that may not be a low budget campaign plan at all. 8. Am I spending my money on the right things? The best campaigns are the most financially disciplined campaigns. They have the focus and understanding to know that they can only spend money on a few things. They also only spend money on defining why voters should vote for them and not their opponent.  The worst campaigns waste money on things that don't communicate a contrastive message. 7. Am I hiring the right staff and consultants, and creating the right roles? Politics is a team sport – you cannot win without the right players, so think long and hard about who is on the team and whether they can help you.  You should also think about whether your campaign has a solid structure and if the right roles exist. If the roles are not written and clearly defined in the campaign plan, you will also have problems. 6. Do I have a vote goal? How many votes do I need to win and where will those votes come from? You need to be able to answer this question in your campaign plan. If you can't, or if it is in your head and not written down, you’re in big trouble. 5. Do I know who my voters are? You must know which voters make up your vote goal, and who makes up your winning coalition, again write it down in the campaign plan.  You want it to be a blueprint for what other folks need to do to carry out your winning strategy. 4. Does my strategy connect with the right voters? What you talk about in your campaign must connect you in a clear way with the audience you need to move. 3. Is my message contrastive enough? Folks need to know the difference between you and your opponent.  If you can't articulate that difference in six words, keep working until you can. Using a message box is a simple tool but can really make a difference here... 2. Is this the right race for me? Before you put everyone through a campaign, make sure you can win. If you can't win the race, do not run.  Much as we’d like to think that running a losing race will help you the next time around, it won’t. 1. Are the right people on board my campaign? Have they bought into my plan? Beyond paid staff and consultants, make sure your friends and family, issue groups, business leaders, unions, etc., are on board.  You must build a real coalition of the right people in order to win. You also need to articulate the coalition's role in your campaign plan to your team. If folks don't know where they fit in your campaign plan it is hard for them to help. We know that building a winning campaign plan is not easy but winning campaigns take the time to develop a winning campaign plan and strategy.  We hope these questions are a good starting point to developing a winning campaign plan.  If you have questions about writing a campaign plan ask them here: Sun, 18 Feb 2018 12:39:36 EST
Embrace Social Change With The Resist Song List LaTwyla Mathias Embrace The Power of Music With Our Resist Song List for Social Change Songs have a way of changing your entire mood. During these times of resistance, it is vital that our playlists are ready at all times. 'Tis the season for protest rallies, marches, volunteering, and donating. It is on us to do everything we can to let the world know that as Americans, we are not okay with this. We want you to listen, absorb, and then get off your butt and do something! Welcome to The Campaign Workshop’s Resist Song List. 1. A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke Best Lyric: “Its been a long time coming but I know a change gone come” When to Listen: When you’ve reached your wits end you wonder if there is light at the end of the tunnel. 2. Alright by Kendrick Lamar Best Lyric: “Do you hear, do feel me, we gone be alright” When to Listen: When something happens that hits a little too close to home and you need a good advocacy strategy to channel the anger. 3. American Idiot by Green Day Best Lyric: “Don’t want to an American Idiot” When to Listen: When you are sick of watching Fox News. 4. Fight Song by Rachel Platten Best Lyric: “My power’s turn on. Starting right now, I’ll be strong” When to Listen: When you need to give yourself an extra boost to keep fighting. 5. Fight the Power by Public Enemy Best Lyric: “What we need is awareness, we can’t get careless” When to Listen: When the man has stepped on you for the last time and you are ready to do something about it. 6. Freedom by Beyonce ft. Kendrick Lamar Best Lyric: “I’ma keep running cause a winner don’t quit on themselves” When to Listen: When you need motivation to keep on keeping on. 7. Get Up Stand Up by Bob Marley and the Wailers Best Lyric: “Don’t give up the fight” When to Listen: When you want a good tune to donate to progressive organizations on the Resist List. 8. Gives You Hell by All American Rejects Best Lyric: “When you see my face, hope it gives hell” When to listen: When you want to pretend you are speaking to a certain someone. 9. Glory by Common and John Legend  Best Lyric: "One day when the glory comes it will be ours” When to Listen: When you're preparing for the 2018 elections, and you're gearing up for the new year. 10. Headstrong by Trapt Best Lyric: “I know that you are wrong and this is not where you belong” When to Listen: When you read a tweet by a certain someone that makes you want to hit a punching bag. 11. Higher Ground by Stevie Wonder Best Lyric: “Powers keep on lyin' while your people keep on dyin'” When to Listen: When heading to The Hill to hold your congressperson accountable. 12. I am Woman by Helen Reddy Best Lyric: “I am woman hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore” When to Listen: When developing advocacy strategies before the next Women’s March. 13. I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty Best Lyric: “No I'll stand my ground, won't be turned around” When to Listen: When asking your city council to close the wage gap. 14. Keep Ya Head Up by Tupac Best Lyric: “I know you're fed up ladies, but keep your head up” When to Listen: Right before attending a training to run for office. 15. Where Is The Love by The Black Eyed Peas Best Lyric: “But if you only have love for your own race / Then you only leave space to discriminate” When to Listen: When kneeling in solidarity with Kaepernick. 16. Lose Yourself by Eminem Best Lyric: “Do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime” When to Listen: Before you start recruiting your friends to canvass for a progressive candidate. 17. Not Ready to Make Nice by Dixie Chicks Best Lyric: “I'm still mad as hell, and I don't have time to go 'round and 'round and 'round” When to Listen: When a Trump supporter tries to mansplain for the umpteenth time and you need a good advocacy strategy. 18. Redbone by Childish Gambino Best Lyric: “Gon' catch you sleepin' (oh) Now stay woke” When to Listen: When you’re home for the holidays and your uncle says something racist, sexist, or inappropriate and you stand up to him. 19. Resistance by Muse Best Lyric: “Love is our resistance” When to Listen: Before asking your school or workplace to switch to non-gender bathrooms. 20. Revolution by The Beatles Best Lyric: “You say you'll change the constitution / Well, you know / We all want to change your head” When to Listen: When you want to calm down after learning about the latest presidential appointment. 21. Revolution by Nina Simone Best Lyric: “I see the face of things to come” “All the evil it will have to end” When to Listen: When you want the perfect song for a resistance rally of all ages. 22. Ride Up by Andra Day Best Lyric: “I'll rise unafraid / I'll rise up / And I'll do it a thousand times again” When to Listen: When you witness or are the victim of discrimination. 23. Say it Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud by James Brown Best Lyric: “I say we won't quit movin' until we get what we deserve” When to Listen: When someone says that “all lives matter” and you need creative advocacy strategies to explain why that is insensitive. 24. Sisters are Doin It for Themselves by The Eurythmics ft. Aretha Franklin Best Lyric: “Now this is a song to celebrate / The conscious liberation of the female state!” When to Listen: When rockin’ your P hat this winter. 25. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott Heron Best Lyric: “You will not be able to stay home, brother / You will not be able to plug in, turn on and drop out” When to Listen: When talking to your apathetic friends. 26. The Times They are A Changin by Bob Dylan Best Lyric: “Then you better start swimmin' / Or you'll sink like a stone / For the times they are a-changin'” When to Listen: When you're starting to feel a bit down about the current Presidency, and you need motivation to get you through the rest of it.  27. We Shall Overcome by Mahalia Jackson Best Lyric: “Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome someday.” When to Listen: When developing advocacy strategies for speaking to baby boomers about joining the resistance. 28. We the People by A Tribe Called Quest Best Lyric: “Muslims and gays / Boy, we hate your ways / So all you bad folks, you must go When to Listen: When riding to the airport to protest the Muslim Ban. 29. What’s Goin On by Marvin Gaye Best Lyric: “For only love can conquer hate” When to Listen: When combatting hate speech on social media. 30. Born This Way By Lady Gaga Best Lyric: “Don't hide yourself in regret / Just love yourself and you're set” When to Listen: Right before increasing your efforts as an LGBT ally. Have a positive social change song to add to our resist song list? Drop us a note     Thu, 15 Feb 2018 08:00:56 EST
A Day in the Life of a Political Consultant Ben Holse What does a political consultant do all day? Being a Political consultant can sometimes get a bad rap. If you listen to some, it can seem like political consultants are just in business to give bad advice and make money off the backs of campaigns. But in my experience, being a political consultant is hard work that requires long hours by a group of dedicated people. To demonstrate this point, the following is an overview of a fictitious workday, based loosely on the typical day of The Campaign Workshop's President Joe Fuld.   8:30am: The political consultant arrives at work and reviews his email. He fields an email from Alice Smitty, who may run for County Commissioner in Bernallio County, New Mexico. Alice doesn’t have a political consultant yet and needs help finding a campaign manager. The consultant makes a note to check in with his New Mexico contacts to see what he can do to help.   8:30am – 9:30am: Consultant checks in with staff. Here he learns that his large organizational client has decided overnight to shift the messaging on their digital advertising program and they now need a new set of banner ads and videos ASAP. He then calls the client quickly to gain more information about what this creative should be.   9:30am – 10:30am: Internal creative meeting for the client mentioned previously. They need a new set of digital banner ads, a digital-first video, and a corresponding print ad. The company’s digital director in in the meeting, and the project’s designer account manager, and other support staff. They discuss the new program, strategy, and hammer out concepts and headlines for the creative.   10:30am – 11am: Consultant’s work block in which the consultant drafts the video script for a digital-first video mentioned previously and replies to an email from a general consultant who asks for advice on a good pollster.   11am – noon: Consultant checks in with staff to review a direct mail program that was designed for an independent expenditure campaign around a mayoral race. He then reviews prospective client proposals before they’re sent out and reads through a backgrounder on a prospective client that he plans to meet with later in the day.      Noon: Lunch meeting with a long-term client. This client is currently an elected city councilor who is coming up on the end of their term in office and is starting to think about taking the next step to run for either State Senate or perhaps Mayor.   1pm – 2pm: Consultant in on a call with a large institutional client to discuss the results of their poll. On the call is both the client and pollster, the consultant asks probing questions to see what information they learned that can be used within the paid communications program.   2pm – 2:50pm: An in-client meeting with the head of a statewide advocacy organization who is in town for a conference. They chat about the successes and failures of past programs, new ideas for the upcoming program, and the potential to use geo-fencing around state capitols to target influencers.   2:50pm – 3pm: Consultant checks in with staff to help interpret a confusing client email. This email is from one member of a coalition and there’s some confusion on if there are other people on the team who need to weigh in or not. The political consultant makes a quick phone call to sort out the issue.   3pm – 3:45pm: Consultant is on a client call to review the draft of a direct mail plan for a  Statewide  candidate that was sent over the previous day. The candidate likes the program overall but thinks there’s too much negative messaging and wants to incorporate another positive piece into the program.   3:45pm – 4pm: Consultant checks in with staff to review a first draft of the creative for a landing page for an independent expenditure. The consultant likes the landing page creative but wants to make sure that there are more buttons on the site, so there are more opportunities for site conversions.    4pm – 4:30pm: Consultant makes an impromptu call to a client who has a digital program currently running with the consultant statewide in Florida to make sure she’s happy with the program. He then returns a call from the head of an environmental organization. They chat about how they would go about launching a ballot measure campaign in the upcoming months.   4:30pm – 5pm: The consultant makes marketing phone calls to a long-time acquaintance that now runs a criminal justice organization. After they chat, the consultant promises to send over a proposal for direct mail and digital advertising services.    5pm – 5:30pm: The consultant has an internal meeting to discuss a RFP (request for proposal) they received yesterday from a state house caucus. The team chats about which of the company’s past work is most applicable to showcase and other questions staff have about the RFP.   5:30pm – 6pm: The consultant finally gets to catch-up on emails and loops the rest of his staff into an email that should have been sent to the entire team, but was instead sent only to the consultant. The consultant also fields a question from his staff about whether or not they have followed up on a proposal that was sent earlier in the week.   6pm – 6:30pm: The consultant leaves the office and begins the commute home. On his hand's free device he checks in with the communications director for a labor union to see how things are going and to provide input on the strategy for a members communication program in the upcoming months.     7pm – 7:30pm: The political consultant jumps on a weekly check-in call with a client who’s running for State Legislature, but was unable to schedule a time earlier in the day that everyone could be on. They chat about field metrics, fundraising, call time, and recruitment for the upcoming photo shoot.   8pm – late evening: The consultant continues to reply to client emails and sends a note to staff to follow up about a proposal that was sent the previous week.  Have questions about what it is like to be a political consultant. Drop us a note.   Mon, 12 Feb 2018 08:00:08 EST
Our Favorite NonPolitical Podcasts Joe Fuld Checkout These Amazing Nonpolitical Podcasts I love political and nonpolitical podcasts. But with the constant stream of political discourse that is our lives, it is good to get perspective from politics and listen to the occasional nonpolitical podcast.  When I was in high school I loved the drama of old-school radio. Somewhere there are tapes of an old radio drama I produced back in the day, but today’s podcasts are certainly much nicer than my productions and a great way to learn about a variety of topics. These podcasts are more than just interviews, some have great production values, and some really engage you in the story. Here are my favorite nonpolitical podcasts that you should definitely check out: How To Be Amazing: Michael Ian Black interviews everyone. He features a great mix of celebrities politicians including Katy Perry. His amazing 5 questions at the end are also great and not to be missed.  Reply All: A Gimlet podcast about the Internet, Reply All is sometimes funny and sometimes sad, but I have not heard a bad episode yet. If you are Internet savvy or just trying to learn what the heck that tweet means, this podcast is for you.  How I Built This: Guy Raz talks to business owners about how they built their business. He is one of my favorite interviewers and the interviews are just top quality. If you are a business owner or just like a good story this is a compelling podcast.   Start Up: It's a show about, you guessed it, start-ups. Now in its sixth season, and I love it, Gimlet podcast and have learned a lot about what to do and what not do from listening to their shows.  Masters of Scale: A podcast on growing business by the founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman. For my fellow business nerds, it is worth a listen - with high-quality interviews cut together with great effects.  The Secret to Victory: How do you learn about winning? By listing to a podcast about losing. How do athletes use a defeat to power victory? Find out in this compelling Gatorade sponsored podcast.  Planet Money: A podcast focused on explaining economics in an understandable way. These 20-minute stories are just short enough for a quick run or drive to work if you are lucky.    Have ideas of other non-political podcasts I should listen to? Drop me a line here:   Thu, 08 Feb 2018 08:00:54 EST
Top 5 Twitter Tools for Your Campaign Top 5 Favorite Twitter Tools  No matter what day or time, it feels like there are five new digital or twitter tools that are all better, faster, and bigger than the last. As political consultants, we understand the power of digital and are always the first to try out any tool. In fact, we’ve tried so many that, eventually, we narrowed them down to our favorite 100 in our 100 Best Political and Advocacy Tools. For Twitter, below are a few we really loved and know your twitter account would benefit from: Mentionmapp: Mentionmapp makes Twitter’s great content, from people to places to conversations, easier to discover. See what conversations and connections you are missing out on! Tweetdeck: This is one of our favorite Twitter tools for managing your account. It helps you keep track of your mentions, certain hashtags, and direct messages, all on one easy to use “deck”. This is especially useful if you have an active twitter account and can’t keep up with all your notifications. Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a great marketing tool for all your social media platforms, not just Twitter. With Hootsuite's platform, you get the tools to automatically find and schedule tweets, measure your Twitter ROI, and increase your brand on Twitter.  Twitter Analytics: Knowing your audience and knowing what tweets did well as opposed to tweets that garnered zero engagement is very useful when figuring out how to improve targeting your audience. With Twitter Analytics, you can see how your Twitter account is doing - whether it's how many new followers you have, to the tweet with the most engagement, to your newest follower with the most followers. Knowledge is power. Get to know your audience, your followers, and the people you are following based on what they are talking about on Twitter. With you can learn the most important social insights, personalize tweets to drive engagement, and find influencers to share your content with their social networks. At the end of the day, using twitter tools can help you increase engagement, help you craft tweets, and aid you in posting tweets often. Learning what tools are right for your twitter account will optimize your account and hopefully turn your quiet supporters into vocal advocates for your twitter account.   If you haven't already, check out our Complete Guide to Twitter for Political and Advocacy Campaigns here! Mon, 05 Feb 2018 08:00:55 EST
Build Up Your Resistance Political Tactics with the Resist Movie List LaTwyla Mathias Why the Strongest Political Tactics Can Be Learned From Our Resist Movie List Welcome to The Campaign Workshop’s Resist Movie List! Movies are always a good idea. I always find it cathartic to immerse myself in scripted drama as a temporary escape from the real life political drama we are all living through because we all need a temporary escape. Watching movies can ignite the resistance by reminding of political tactics we’ve used in the past.  1. A Time To Kill I get emotional every time I watch this movie. The storyline follows a father who is accused of killing the men who raped and beat his daughter. The twist is that the father is black, the deceased are white, and the case takes place in the deep south. And while the film was released in the mid-1990s, this case is still incredibly relevant to the world we are all currently living now. Resisters will identify with both the father and his lawyer in this dramatic movie. I promise you it is worth the watch! 2. Django Unchained This movie displays one man’s journey to rescue the woman he loves. While all of the movies have a common theme to fight the system, Django Unchained does it in a unique fashion. Django is easy to root for against his abhorrent oppressors and you will enjoy every minute of watching his adventures. 3. Gandhi This movie tells the story of how Gandhi became the legend that we all know. Ben Kingsley, who won the Best Actor Academy Award for his role as Gandhi, gives a remarkable performance that you don't want to miss.  4. Good Night and Good Luck Resistance takes many forms. I love how this movie shows that incremental resistance can make a big impact. Edward R. Murrow could have easily decided not to attack the McCarthy Communism crusade on the news, but his inner sense of right and wrong could not allow him to sit idly by.      5. Hidden Figures In 2017, it is tough being a woman of color. Granted, it is slightly easier now than it was in the Jim Crow Era and films like Hidden Figures remind us of how women of color had to fight for the rights that contemporary women of color benefit from today. This movie is about three bold women who take a stance and assist the engineering and launch of an American space program. It is funny, uplifting, and climatic, even though we know how it ends. 6. Milk Harvey Milk was ambitious, forward-thinking, and a fighter. His bravery paved the way for all LGBT elected officials who were tired of hiding in the shadows. This movie depicts Milk's passion about his campaign and constituents after his election...I promised no spoilers so just trust me and watch this film. 7. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Before 2017, I would say that this movie shows the chaotic side of politics. Well, unfortunately, we all know better. This movie shows us that when you know the rules (e.g. how to navigate the American political system), you can use this knowledge to fight back. Jimmy Stewart gives an amazing performance as Senator Smith, who uses allies gained along the way to fight a political machine. 8. Norma Rae This film depicts how one woman can change the world. Isn’t that a nice thought? Well, we didn’t quite achieve that in 2016, however, Norma Rae will evoke the same sense of pride and fervor that many of us had when we thought about 2016 as the year that the first female President would be elected.  9. Selma To gain progress always involves struggle. When first watching Selma, it did not happen like I thought it would happen. We all are familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King and his life-changing work for civil rights, but Selma shows how he struggled to bring people together and how every setback affected the progress of the movement, but also King's personal spirit. We know how this ends, but Selma is a great film about the impact of the Civil Rights movement in Alabama. 10. V for Vendetta 2017 has shown us the dark side of humanity, but if we are being honest, we always knew it was there. V for Vendetta is an alternate reality, with a frightening likeness to our current reality. Watching how one person can become an activist, in the most radical of circumstances, is a must watch. We could all use a little bit of her resistance to the oppresive power that takes hold in this  Sometimes the best new political tactics aren’t new at all, but recycled ideas brought forth with new life from our past. I hope this list is as healing to you as it was to me. I want you to watch and enjoy every minute, and hope that you will feel empowered to keep up the fight!      Thu, 01 Feb 2018 08:00:34 EST
7 Questions with Joshua Kalla on Political Persuasion Elena Veatch Is persuasion still possible? Political scientist Joshua Kalla answers our questions Joshua Kalla is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley whose research focuses on American political behavior and opinion. Along with Stanford’s David Broockman, Joshua Kalla co-authored a study on voter persuasion that made a splash in the media and in progressive circles in September 2017. In this study, Kalla and Broockman argue that voter persuasion through traditional campaign communication methods (such as direct mail, canvassing, and digital advertising) have essentially no persuasive effect on voters during general elections. We asked Kalla about his recent work and its implications for campaigns.   1.Does persuasion happen at all during a campaign? Between elections, some voters certainly change their minds. As an example, the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group found that 9.2 percent of Obama voters supported Trump in 2016. The question then becomes how much of this change occurs between elections (e.g., Obama voters didn’t like his performance and voted for change in Trump rather than continuity in Clinton) and how much occurs during the campaign (e.g., the Trump campaign, through their communication methods, caused the persuasion). Our paper tries to speak to this much narrower second question.   2.Based on your research, do you suggest that U.S. political campaigns stop spending money on persuasion? No, our current research cannot answer this question. We study whether an additional campaign contact, such as a face-to-face canvass conversation, can persuade voters above and beyond all the other political activity and media coverage that is taking place. We find that in most cases (with some important exceptions I highlight below), these additional campaign contacts have no effect. But this does not imply campaigns should stop all persuasive efforts.   3.What’s the biggest misconception about your latest study? The biggest misconception, as put by Vox’s Dylan Matthews, is that our results mean: “Campaigns’ attempts to win swing voters appear to not work at all.” This headline does not tell the full story. There are three important exceptions that I want to highlight. First, we find that campaigns are able to use experiments to identify persuadable targets. Just like polls can be divided into subsets of voters (e.g., polls teach us more than just how Americans feel on average but can be divided into groups such as African American women and college students), experiments can be divided into similar subgroups. On average we might find that campaigns’ general election persuasive contacts have little effect. But within this average of zero, we can also identify voters who were persuaded and voters who reacted negatively to the persuasive messages. Using experiments to identify and then target the most persuadable voters can lead to drastic gains in persuasion. Second, most of the misconceptions stem from focusing only on partisan general elections. In these settings, voters rely heavily on whether there is a “D” or an “R” next to a candidate’s name and rarely budge from that partisan position. But American politics is more than just partisan general elections. Campaign persuasion appears to work in primaries and in ballot measure elections, even competitive ones. Finally, our study is about the kind of persuasion campaigns do today. We hope that practitioners, rather than abandoning persuasion as a goal, will instead attempt new and creative ideas for how to persuade voters. Many of these ideas will likely fail, but by experimenting and investing in basic research and development, it is possible that the persuasion of tomorrow can be more effective.   4.Do you think advocacy and legislative accountability campaigns can effectively engage and persuade voters on issues before a general election? Certainly. One study we conducted attempted to reduce prejudice against transgender people and increase support for a transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination law outside of an electoral context. In this study, we found that a single approximately 10-minute conversation was able to reduce prejudice for at least 3 months and increase support for a nondiscrimination law, even after exposing voters to counterarguments. And even in elections, we find that campaigns might be able to persuade voters on issues. For example, we find that campaign contact can be persuasive in ballot measure campaigns that focus more on issues and less on partisanship. But not every advocacy campaign can persuade voters. In another study, we attempted to use door-to-door canvassing to reduce stigma toward women who have had abortions, but found no persuasive effect. We hope to conduct more research to get a better understanding of the issues and contexts of when we should expect advocacy and legislative accountability campaigns to be persuasive and when they might fail.   5.How much of the difficulties you’ve observed in persuasion efforts have to do with the noise that characterizes any presidential election year with so many voter outreach programs happening at the same time? This is a really important question for understanding our results. Our experiments take voters in the real-world where they might read the newspaper, talk to friends and family, watch TV ads, and absorb other types of political information. In this setting, we then randomly assign whether additional campaign contacts – such as a door-to-door conversation or series of political mailers – change their intended vote choice. The background noise makes it less likely that any one additional campaign contact will have a persuasive effect, yet this is exactly the kind of environment campaigns and interest groups operate in. What this suggests is that persuasive efforts might be more successful if they avoid this background noise or find a way to break through it. For example, persuasive efforts appear to be more successful in ballot measure campaigns and primary elections where there is less noise from other campaigns and less media coverage. Groups might also try experimenting with persuasive efforts that are unique by targeting voters who might be receiving fewer contacts from other groups and by providing new information and messages that are not being featured by other campaigns or the media.   6.Are we limited by our current methods of measuring persuasion in evaluating and showing movement among the public? In addition to conducting research on whether voters are persuadable, David Broockman and I (along with Jasjeet Sekhon) have produced methodological advances to make it faster, easier, and cheaper for campaigns to conduct research on persuasion. By using online surveys recruited via mail from the voter file with multiple surveys conducted before and after persuasion, we are able to reduce the costs of mail persuasion experiments by 50% and door-to-door canvass and phone persuasion experiments by 98%. These savings have enabled local campaigns such as a mayoral primary and a state legislative race to conduct cutting-edge research on persuasion.   7.What kinds of tests would you like to see campaigns do in general? I think there are two areas that are ripe for more testing. First, we find that campaigns typically fail to persuade voters, but the math of many elections dictates that campaigns cannot abandon persuasion altogether. Instead, we need to try new ideas. I have ideas that I would like to explore, but I also want to learn from the creativity of political practitioners. Second, most of the research on political campaigns has focused on the outputs: how many votes can a campaign generate using particular GOTV or persuasion efforts? I think we also need to explore more of the inputs, particularly around volunteers. How can campaigns recruit and retain long-term committed volunteers? If campaigns are interested in collaborating on these research questions, they should certainly get in touch!   BONUS QUESTIONS8.Any books you’ve read recently that you think shed light on the American electorate? Two recent books that should be broadly read by political practitioners to understand the American electorate are Paul Sniderman’s The Democratic Faith and Chris Achens and Larry Bartels’s Democracy for Realists. At points they come to opposite conclusions, but I think this complexity is good to understand.  Mon, 29 Jan 2018 08:00:00 EST
Campaign Message: Message vs. Issue - Do You Know the Difference? Joe Fuld Do you know the difference between a campaign message and an issue? A strong campaign message can mean the difference between winning and losing. In the world of political messaging especially on the progressive politics side, there is a lot of confusion between what is a campaign message and what is an issue. Why the confusion? Issue politics has become a passion and because of this many candidates and groups see the issue as the message. But this is often a mistake. Let’s try to stop the confusion.  A campaign message is not the same as an issue. A true campaign message goes beyond an issue and focuses on a clear connection between the candidate and voters not just on a single issue level.  Go for emotion  The issue is important, but a broader and sometimes more emotional message can incorporate the issue and continue to reach beyond it.  What is a message? What is an issue?  First, let’s define what a message is and what is an issue. For example, a campaign message is a thematic view of the campaign’s message, that is often more emotional than pure policy. While an issue is a policy position the campaign has a certain problem.  Emotional connection with a theme  So how do we make sure we get the emotional connection we need and the specificity that an issue brings? Use the message as the theme and the issue as a way to clarify the root of the message. So while an issue should be a part of your campaign, it is only one part of your message and at the end of the day is rarely the whole thing.  Do your message homework: using the seven c's and a message box can help you create a clear emotive message that connects beyond issues.  Have questions about campaign message vs issues?  Get in touch with us.  Thu, 25 Jan 2018 08:00:54 EST
10 Tips to Amp Up Your Advocacy Marketing Joe Fuld */ 10  tips for your advocacy marketing If you've ever worked on an issue advocacy campaign, you know that convincing person to even listen to your message can be a difficult task. Now, more than ever, public opinion has become harder to shape when people tune out information more than they tune into it. Below are 10 tips that can make your advocacy marketing communications more effective and accessible to your audience.  10. Set clear communications goals: As simple as it sounds setting goals is an important part of advocacy marketing, but it is a consistent problem in marketing that folks gravitate to tactics instead of goals. We need to all do a better job at setting goals and matching the tactics to achieve these goals.  9. Have a clear call to action. Defining the action for advocates and members is incredibly important. Often folks make the mistake in thinking that their constituents know what they want them to do without explanation. That is not the case! You must tell folks what you want them to do. A strong call to action also encourages action.  8. Incorporate fundraising into your advocacy asks: folks often look at advocacy and fundraising as separate things. Done right you can actually allow advocacy marketing to help fund itself.  7. Define a funnel for your members and advocates. The advocacy funnel can be a great way to move folks from online to offline action or from advocacy to donors. Read more about the advocacy funnel here.  6. Build storytelling capacity. Storytelling capacity can increase your advocacy marketing outcomes. By getting folks involved in emotional stories you can great more conversions and actions in the process. 5. Know your goals for each tactic: a tactic is only good if achieves a goal you want. So, for each tactic, you use, ask why? If you don’t have a reason for a tactic don’t use it and focus on the tactics that achieve your goals.  4. Create sponsored campaigns: individual campaigns can have a big impact on advocacy marketing by getting donors to sponsor a specific campaign from the outset to help increase your donor and advocacy capacity.  3. Set goals for your board: a board can have a great impact on building a nonprofit or building advocacy marketing for the organization.  2. Be consistent in outreach whether you are doing grassroots or grassroots, online or offline tactics. Consistently communicating with your list will help keep your folks engaged. One of the biggest mistakes we see is when folks acquire action takers, but don’t communicate with them. Eventually, they will go off your list if they don’t value the goal of consistent communication as a means of showing that you value the folks on your list.  1. Test both online and offline tactics: some groups only do digital and some groups only do in person organizing. These days you need a mix of tactics that drive your strategy and round out your advocacy engagement by using real advocacy metrics and testing for outcomes. You can decide what works and what doesn’t work for your group.  Have questions about advocacy marketing? Ask them here.    Mon, 22 Jan 2018 08:17:33 EST
7 Questions with Bernie Horn on Progressive Campaign Strategy Elena Veatch Bernie Horn of the Public Leadership Institute shares his insight on progressive messaging and campaign strategy. Bernie Horn is the Senior Director for Policy and Communications at the Public Leadership Institute, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that works with a network of 13,000 progressive state and local policymakers on a wide range of economic and social issues. Bernie Horn is the coauthor of Voicing our Values: A Message Guide for Policymakers and Advocates, which describes how progressives can more effectively frame their arguments to persuade audiences. Below, Bernie Horn shares some tips on how to shape your progressive campaign strategy, get people to realize they agree on the issues, and make policy debates more accessible to voters. 1. What are the key issues that progressive lawmakers should be pushing in 2018, and how do you determine which legislation to urge them to introduce? In every jurisdiction, progressive lawmakers and advocates should thoughtfully construct a package of perhaps five to ten bills to introduce and promote in their 2018 sessions, with the idea of helping shape the debate through the general elections. This package should illustrate progressive values, answer the question “what do progressives stand for,” and demonstrate the sharp distinction between us and our conservative opponents. The reason for an agenda of proactive bills, rather than a list of areas where we’re fighting awful right-wing legislation, is that it presents us (accurately) as agents of change, not defenders of the status quo. If we learned anything from the 2016 primary and general election battles, it is that Americans want change. Each jurisdiction is different, but here are a few policies (with hyperlinks) that might fit into a short progressive platform anywhere: Minimum wage and paid sick leave. These issues both poll very high and are easy for Americans to understand. Holding down prescription drug costs. Everyone thinks Rx prices are too high and that drug companies are to blame. A new Maryland price gouging law was just upheld in court. A law stopping PBMs from preventing pharmacists from telling customers about cheaper options was recently passed in Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine and North Dakota. Equal pay. This always polls well. While most states have equal pay laws, almost all could introduce a bill the strengthens them. Make willful wage theft or willful safety violations a criminal offense. California has done some of this and Colorado has a good model. Control debt collectors. Nobody likes debt collectors, and in recent years, they have employed tactics that are grossly unfair. Fair Share tax reform. Americans believe that the rich are not paying their fair share in taxes. A bill in Pennsylvania would increase taxes on the rich while marginally lowering taxes for everyone else. Or lawmakers can simply find an existing outrageous tax giveaway for the rich and introduce a bill to end it. Stop over-testing in schools. Americans overwhelmingly believe there is too much standardized testing in schools. Maryland enacted broad corrective legislation and there is also a narrower Too Young To Test Act. Climate change. There are several types of bills, including simple climate change impact study commissions, that can force conservatives to show their anti-science stripes.   2. How do you combat arguments that a piece of progressive legislation is unrealistic? Political advocates and activists live in a different world from the voters we are trying to persuade. We are alone in worrying about whether a bill can pass. Most average Americans are in a fairly desperate day-to-day struggle with problems like housing debt, credit card debt, student debt, lack of decent-paying jobs or affordable health care, underfunded schools and social services, drug addiction and domestic violence. Average people don’t perceive these as political issues, they see them all together as life. In 2016, neither Bernie Sanders nor Donald Trump particularly cared if legislation was realistic. They talked about policies that addressed voters’ real problems. They used policy to illustrate a much bigger and more important matter—the thing that voters are actually looking for: which leader is on their side and will not just talk, but fight, for them? Progressives need to lay out a vision, with legislative examples, to break through the apathy, cynicism and ignorance of non-aligned voters. Conservatives have been introducing aspirational bills for decades, and it has worked for them. 3. How can progressives across the board better persuade folks to confront their biases and reconsider their stances on politics and policy? First, we must understand that everyone has deep-seated beliefs, biases and stereotypes about every aspect of politics and policy. It is next to impossible, without years and years of work or some catastrophic incident (e.g. September 11), to change people’s fundamental beliefs. So successful persuasion cannot be about getting people to change their minds—it must be about getting them to understand that they agree with us already. We do this with three tactics: Start every argument in agreement with your listener Use progressive values Show your listeners how they benefit. You can start in agreement by empathizing with your listener’s problem (“you’re right, our tax system is unfair”), or by identifying a widely-recognized problem (“prescription drugs cost too much”), or by stating a policy ideal (“everyone should pay their fair share in taxes”).\ You can use values like freedom, privacy, fairness, opportunity, safety or security to describe the kind of society you’re trying to build. Since virtually all Americans believe in the importance of these values, you stay in agreement with your listener by using them. You can show listeners how they benefit by explaining what a proposal will do for them, their families, and their communities. Persuadable voters are individualistic. They are not motivated by the “common good” as we may be. Even if a progressive policy directly benefits the poor, who are generally not persuadable voters, those policies at least indirectly benefit the middle class. That’s what you need to talk about, that’s how you make listeners understand that you’re on their side. 4. What kind of messaging mistakes do progressive elected officials make in talking policy (whether with voters or with colleagues during floor debates)? Failing to use the three tactics above is the most common messaging mistake. But also, elected officials and political insiders tend to use language that average Americans simply do not understand. On one hand, we tend to use the technical language of lobbying, like Rules Committee, Third Reader and CBO scoring. Or we use insider abbreviations like ENDA and TABOR and PAYGO. This kind of language is very valuable shorthand for professionals, but nonpolitical people don’t know a filibuster from a veto. We also have a tendency to use ideological language like corporate greed, capitalism, single-payer or neo-fascist. While these words and phrases may quickly psych up our base, they make average Americans think you are not one of them. Finally, we tend to embrace facts—the more the better. While that’s essential for governing, it is less useful in persuasion. Politics is not a battle of information, it is a battle of ideas. So, we need to talk more about people’s problems and the progressive ideas and values that will help solve them. Facts should be used more sparingly. If a listener wants more facts, s/he will ask for them. 5. How important is it to frame policy debates in a way that resonates with people’s values, and how do you do this? There are a very small handful of issues that average Americans actually understand, like the minimum wage. Even after years of discussion, they still have absolutely no clue what the Affordable Care Act does. For as long as I can remember, progressives have tried to persuade voters by discussing a laundry list of issues. Perhaps I’m showing my age, but the John Kerry 2004 campaign was based on “J-HOS,” which stood for Jobs, Healthcare, Oil and Security. Some earlier Democratic campaign agendas were called M2E2 or Me-Me for Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment. None of this works. Persuadable voters don’t think about, or even understand, a list of issues. They are the citizens who know the least about policies, legislation and political personalities. We assume these voters know what we know, think the way we think, and are persuaded by the facts and arguments that persuade us. That’s just not true. While these Americans do not share our political knowledge, in their minds they share our values. They also agree with some conservative values. If we do not frame the debate to evoke our progressive values, conservatives will frame it to evoke theirs. 6. What or who inspired you to get into politics? I suppose I should cite the inspiration of the greatest U.S. presidents, which would be true enough. But the more honest answer is that I was born in Washington, D.C. and have always lived in the area. I didn’t think I had much of a choice! 7. Which books should every progressive read? If someone wants to understand progressive values and political persuasion, I have to suggest they read the Third Edition of my book, Voicing Our Values: A message guide for policymakers and advocates which is available as a free download here and on Amazon here. Similarly, for a short handbook on progressive advocacy, I’d recommend my Preparing to Win: A guide for successful advocacy available as a free PDF here and on Amazon here. Besides those, the classic (and funny) Hardball by Chris Matthews; The DeMarco Factor by Michael Pertschuk; Works that Work by Frank Luntz; How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie; and all of the extremely practical ebooks by Joe Fuld and The Campaign Workshop.   A big thanks to Bernie Horn for answering our 7 questions. Want to get in touch with Bernie Horn? Visit, or reach out to Bernie Horn directly at Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:00:00 EST
Petition vs. Action: Social Activism Online and Offline Lizzie Kendrick How to Use Social Activism Online and Offline. Which Tactic is Best For Your Advocacy Campaign? When Donald Trump won the election in 2016, a wave of social activism took over the country and has been building ever since. People are taking to the streets and protesting on an almost weekly basis. Many advocacy organizations have benefited from this momentum and gained supporters and donations. For a long time, advocacy organizations and non-profits have been using online petitions as a tool to gain followers. These can be incredibly powerful as they allow organizations to obtain highly engaged followers by way of the user signing on to petition as a group or person. The follower gets to take a stand on an issue they care about, and the organization receives access to information of a new supporter who is more likely to take further action or give money in the future. It is important to note that signing an online petition doesn’t always lead to on the ground action. When your organization is looking for ways to engage your supporter base, having a clear goal in mind is key. If you are looking to build up your list so you can go to those supporters down the line to ask for donations or to contact their legislators, petitions are likely the right choice. If you’re looking to get people on the ground to protest and take advantage of a social movement that has an expiration date, an online petition won’t necessarily help you. In the case of action, using more organic grassroots organizing tools can help you get the results you’ll need. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, can help mobilize people. Having volunteers call, text and knock on doors is another way to mobilize. Timing is also key when looking to capitalize on a moment. For example, if climate change is in the news a lot lately, that’s a good time for environmental organizations to take charge and really own the public conversation, run paid social ads, get people to protest at the White House, create a hashtag and really go all in. Online petitions are great tools for organizations to use, but they do not equal action. Thus it’s important to be deliberate in your goals and intentions for your organization so that petitions are aided by real actions. Check out our 7 questions with Micah White, a lifelong activist who co-created Occupy Wall Street, on the future of social activism here. Mon, 15 Jan 2018 08:00:46 EST

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