I recommended Purple Cow to a few people this week so I thought I would go back and skim some of it. The book is a "must read" on the reading list for all campaign and nonprofit staff.
1. Why is it required reading?
Look at these releases. This is an entire month of releases from many of the top groups in the world. Here is a few more...NRDC, FOE and LCV. Scan them for 30 seconds. Wait 30 seconds... Can you remember titles? Did these release strike you as "values" based? Are they focus on connecting you with issues you care about? If you were a rporter and all these came on the same day which would you open? Which do you think the average reader would care about?
2. Where are people on the environment?
When asked to choose the single most important reason that they favor environmental protection, Americans identify the value of responsibility to future generations in greatest numbers. Nearly four in ten (39%) cite this as their main motivation, followed by respect for nature as God’s work (23%). The desire to protect the balance of nature ranks third at 17%.
A huge slice of people want to protect the environment because it is important to them spiritually .Remember any of that in the press releases? Work with people where they "are" and bring them to the "sale". Selling environmental protection based on science or policy that most people do not understand or care about is ineffective. Be environmentalists not wonks or science geeks. It is like the last time you saw a car ad? Are many of them based on the science behind the engine and tires (maybe the prius) or are they about lifestyle and personal priorities (safety, being hip, etc.) I can't believe the core communicaiotns experts in our movement are still fumbling around with basic communicaitons concepts. We need sound sceince from our science community. We need good policy from our policy wonks. We do not need to focus the communications and campaigns on their reports.
3. What was that campaign?
Don't add noise to the information overload. If your campaign won't work and doesn't spread don't release it. Go back to the drawing board again and again to find a way to present your message and campaign in a way that spreads. Really how hard was it to come up with the LiveStrong concept? If your story doesn't help retell itself then get some better thinkers on your team. A little money and extra effort now is a lot easier then spitting into the wind for the duration of the campaign.
4. Tap today's networks.
Once you have a message that can "spread" focus on places that can move messages effectively. (Network-centric advocacy is about focusing on the reach of loosely organized networks to connect in the modern age.) Think about all the people you know that have "reach" and find out what it takes for them to spread messages. (Why did millions of people forward the email petition to defend PBS?) How did it become a chain letter and an urban legend? Millions of people can spread the messages in PTA's, Moms groups and little league listserves. The most powerful "spreaders" in the movement do not work for your group. (Aim Fight)
5. Design to Get Out of the Way
Viral campaigns need help to self-organize. How are all the materials made available to support the spread of the idea or campaign? (Look at Alex's Lemonade) , MoveOn House Party or New American Dream's Alternative Gift Fare
Seth's book is a must read because Seth is great on these issues. As he says"
In a nutshell:
* Sell what people are buying
* Focus on the early adopters and sneezers
* Make it remarkable enough for them to pay attention
* Make it easy for them to spread
* Let it work its own way to the mass market.