Thursday, May 29, 2008

Resources, resources everywhere!

If you haven't checked out our social network page, you really should. We have tons of FREE downloadable resources available, including PPTs from our webinars, checklists, templates and all kinds of other fun stuff for advocacy.

I'd also like to encourage people to use the forum tools to ask their advocacy questions. I base a lot of the webinar discussions on questions and issue that people raise both on the site and off. If you're curious enough to ask it on our forum it probably means that others are struggling with the issue as well!

Thanks and happy advocating!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Obama and "HisSpace"

Really interesting article in The Atlantic about Obama's use of social campaign techniques and how that might translate in to presidential "stuff" (don't worry, they put it far more eloquently than that :)).

The author makes the point that many President's in our history have stood at the Vanguard of a new technology and/or way of communicating. Andrew Jackson and the printing press, Abraham Lincoln and newspapers, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his fireside chats... You get the picture. I am reminded of the role talk radio played in the Republican takeover of the House in 1994. Most democrats did not realize the power it would have -- until it was too late. As noted in the article:

"No other candidate in this or any other election has ever built a support network like Obama’s. The campaign’s 8,000 Web-based affinity groups, 750,000 active volunteers, and 1,276,000 donors have provided him with an enormous financial and organizational advantage in the Democratic primary."

How will his enthusasim for and understanding of the Internet be demonstrated in his presidency? I (and others) predict a more participatory government, where citizens might:
  • Indicate online which policies they "DIGG" and which they don't
  • Comment on the blogs that every federal agency would be required to post
  • Participate on federal "social networking" sites to improve government services
  • Utilize a Google-like search tool to learn more about government spending
  • Review federal agency statements via YouTube
  • Subcribe to the PodCasts of agencies they want to learn more about

And that would be just the beginning. What about a model program where citizens directly decide on the fate of executive branch initiative themselves? The list (and possibilities) go on and on...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jazzing Up Your Advocacy

Check out my recent newsletter on five lessons I learned from the New Orleans Jazz Fest about effective advocacy. It sounds weird, I know, but stick with me... Believe it or not, coalitions, strategizing and improvisation are as important in advocacy as they are in jazz.

You can access the latest tipsheet -- and a whole bunch of others -- here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Polls, polls everywhere!

If you're ever curious as to how people feel about Washington, DC, the presidential campaign or politics in general, check out the periodic Washington Post poll.  Poll questions include "Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing" (this just in:  he's not doing so well in the opinion polls -- hopefully the wedding this weekend will help with matters).  

There are also a series of questions on Iraq, the Economy and the ongoing joy that has been the presidential campaign (news flash:  people are getting bored and irritated).  Interestingly, though, as the campaign goes on and voters get to know all the candidates on all sides, EVERYONE'S unfavorables are trending up.  And for some odd reason, the poll asks for favorable / unfavorable impressions of Bill Clinton who, last time I checked, is not actually running.

One of the more entertaining set of questions is on the economy.  When asked whether they were pessimistic or optimistic about the national economy, about 60% of respondents were pessimistic.  Yet, about 65% of respondents were optimistic about their own finances.

I guess that's the same phenomenon that makes voters feel optimistic about their own elected officials while at the same time vehemently opposing the "rest of the bums" in Washington, DC. Odd, that...  

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Does "Flooding the Lines" Work?

I just read about a new service called "Floodthelines". The goal of the service is to get people affiliated with an advocacy camaign to make a steady stream of phone calls to the target (such as elected officials). Organizers can post information about the cause, talking points, information about the targets and the service will set up a reminder system to send e-mails to remind supporters to call on a certain date and time. For now at least, the service is free.

The developers' argument is that e-mails and petitions are easily ignored (true!), but that a telephone ringing in a decision-makers office will create a sense of urgency that inspires action. I have to say that I'm sceptical about that last claim. I think telephone campaigns are effective only if they meet three criteria:

1) The people calling the decision maker are relevant to that decision maker (i.e., consituents)

2) Supporters actually make the phone calls -- this type of approach probably won't work for a number of the "soft" initiatives that many groups in DC lobby on where it's tough to get advocates to make calls.

3) You're in a venue where having a phone call every three minutes is a big deal. The phones on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC already ring pretty much non-stop. I can't imagine being able to generate enough RELEVANT communication to make an impression on already overloaded Congressional offices.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying you shouldn't check it out (hey, free is free!). Just consider it one of many tools in an advocacy campaigns arsenal. And be sure that more of your effort is focused on working with advocates to generate personalized, thoughtful, non-"form" communications. Those are what really make the difference.