Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Advocacy Circle Webinar

Advocacy Circle members are invited to join us online on June 5th at 4:00pm to discuss basic principles of effective advocacy. The session will provide an overview of the factors that influence elected officials as well as the unbeatable power of constituency. We will look at the four components of message development and delivery as well as the top 10 things that elected officials and staff HATE to hear.

For more information about the circle, go to

For more information about the June 5th webinar, go to

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Want to Know Your Neighbors Politics?

Maybe not... But if you and your neighbor are on Facebook, you (or they) could choose to use a couple new tools from the Washington Post and Slate that allow you to share a little bit more about your politics on your page.

The "Compass" tool from the Post identifies (through a short Q&A) where you fall on the political spectrum. That information is then shared with your network. The Slates "Political Futures" application allows the user to place a virtual bet (using virtual money) on the 2008 horse race -- uh, Presidential race. Then it shows how others on the network placed their bets.

As Caroline Little, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive's CEO put it "It's a new way to share political news we're known for with such an active audience."

Or it may be a new way to engage in virtual fisticuffs online.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Is the Internet the Talk Radio of the 2008 Election Season?

As laid out in the Washington Post's recent interesting article "Online, GOP Is Playing Catch-Up," the differences between how the D's and R's are approaching and utilizing the Internet are striking. Dems are out-raising, out-podcasting, out-youtubing and out-friending Republicans by significant margins. By almost every measure, Democrats are utilizing the web more creatively and more productively than the Republicans.

Nope, that's not partisan politics speaking -- Michael Turk, who was in charge of Internet strategy for President Bush's 2004 campaign says "We're losing the web right now." Some point to the Republican party's traditional focus of "staying on message" as the culprit -- the web is clearly more suited to the chaotic, many voices, "I don't belong to an organized party, I'd a Democrat" approach that has long characterized the Democratic party.

As Peter Leyden of the New Politics Institute puts it, "All this talking and discussing and fighting energizes everyone, involves everyone, and gets people totally into it." That's one of the benefits of the web and a clear advantage for Democrats.

In the midst of all this hoopla, though, the larger lessons of the application of the Internet in politics remain murky. What this campaign has the potential to show us is whether all the online rabble-rousing really will make a difference -- or whether the more traditional approaches will still serve to sway the hearts and minds of voters.

Probably a little of each.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Politics and Web 2.0

In just another demonstration of the connection between politics and engagism on the web, Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave the keynote address at the 2007 Personal Democracy Forum. He commented extensively on how the Internet is (spoiler alert) changing the face of American politics (shocking, I know).

A key component of the discussion was whether the "connected world" is always a good thing, with Thomas Friedman, who joined the conversation with Schmidt, noting that when the MySpace generation starts getting involved in politics, there will be much more information (and pictures) available on them -- not all of it flattering. As Friedman put it "George Bush never could've been elected president if he'd been at Yale now and there'd been cell phone cameras around."

Schmidt suggested that tomorrow's leaders will likely be more careful in their activities today, knowing that cameras and media attention abound. However to me the more interesting question there is whether the "engagist" generation will have a more forgiving perspective on the exploits of political leaders. As more and more people experience the consequences of less-that stellar online decisions, will they be more forgiving of others that have those same experiences?

It's certainly possible. In fact, perhaps the surfeit of negative information on candidates might lead to an end of negative campaigning. We can only hope.

More information on the keynote address here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Advocacy Lessons From Jazz Fest

My latest tipsheet "Advocacy Lessons From Jazz Fest" is available online. In it, I outline five key advocacy techniques that apply equally to getting through a policy campaign or a music festival. They include developing a strategy, developing a theme and, of course, improvising (hey, it's JAZZ Fest). To learn how fried foods and "things with cheese" relate to advocacy, be sure to read the article!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Are you a member of the Advocacy Circle?

Yes, grasshopper, you too can take the long journey to becoming an Advocacy Guru. And it starts with a single step. Check out our new Advocacy Circle where you can become a member at one of three different levels: Seeker; Disciple and Mastermind. Circle members have access to a set number of webinars, free articles and resources, and our Advocacy Circle social network site, which features additional resources found NO WHERE ELSE ON THE PLANET.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Monday, May 07, 2007

One Stop Political Online Shop

Extra, extra, read all about it: The Washington Post has updated its Politics page. Now you can not only read about your presidential candidates, you can also track them moving across the country in real time. Wondering where Joe Biden is on May 7th? According to the tracker, you'll find him at a BBQ dinner in Davenport, IA. Yum!

On the page, you'll also see links to the latest articles, blogs, columns, photos, videos, and podcasts. There are surveys and also highlights of the best of the political web outside of the Washington Post. There are special reports and live chats. Basically, it's everything you've ever wanted to know about politics but were too lazy to Google. Find it all, here, at the Washington Post online.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

One Key to Effective Advocacy: Figuring Out What You Want

If you've ever been to one of my sessions, you know I invariably talk about the importance of knowing what you want from your elected officials and asking for something specific. A few state governments are about to make this a whole lot easier.

Reuter's reports that Arizona, California, Utah and Virgina are partnering with Google to improve their search mechanisms in an effort to make it easier for citizens to search to hard-to-find public information on state sites. Believe it or not, many governments have TONS of information available on their websites. However, many "open disclosure" advocates argue that since the information is nearly impossible to find, it might as well not even be there.

The interesting thing about this approach is its alturistic nature -- Google isn't charging the states anything for the use of their tools. In addition, the states aren't having to pay to change their infrastructure at all.

Of course, it's not all about better service to the public. This partnership offers great advertising opportunities for Google while at the same time ensuring that the state governments are at least making the appearance of being more responsive to the needs of citizens. It seems like a "win-win" for everyone -- except those "other" search engines...