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Fantasia Barrino vs. George Bush

George W. Bush took 50,456,002 votes in 2000 ($400 Million in Ads, Soul to Devil, Cheney as running mate, etc. ) Fantasia Barrino takes at least 51% of the 65,000,000 votes this week alone.

Barrino, a 19-year-old single mother from High Point beat Dianna DeGarmo, an effervescent 16-year-old from Snellville after 65 million votes were tallied in the final week of the reality TV show. "Thank you so much!" Fantasia Barrino sobbed when she won.

How many folks did you get to phone in to support clean air?

Advocacy Lessons from Spiderman

e_spiderbase_hiThe spider web and the Internet web have just gone toe-to-toe in a strength competition and the Internet wins. Here is the blow by blow of the fight.

In one corner, the Yankees, Red Sox, Sony, Columbia Pictures, Major League Baseball and $2.5 million dollars in revenues. In the other corner, the Internet, a guy with an online petition, an ESPN Internet poll, and 45,000+ pissed off fans.

Round 1. May 5, 2004 The big powers of MLB, Sony and the owners of the teams throw a surprise punch. Columbia Pictures announce that the bases in all of baseball will be branded with a six-by-six logo from the film Spiderman 2 from June 11 to June 13th (in conjunction with the summer release of "Spider-Man 2,") The press release boast of new revenue and connecting kids to baseball in the 21st century. Teams like the Yankees and Sox will receive $100,000 most others franchises will take in $50,000 for the promotion.

The outcry begins ..The network of baseball fans, sports writers kick into action.
League of Fans, Some random guy sets up an online petition 200+ signatures in several hours, discussions at Talk baseball and other sports bulletin boards buzz with disgust, There is talk of baseball and product boycotts. ESPN does an online poll almost 80,000 respond to the poll with 79 percent speaking out against the ads. The story is picked up off the wires onto CNN and Money. Several journalists fire up the fans and detail the disgust with another marketing attack on a traditional pastime. The story begins to feed on itself like a "wildfire". Bob Costa rants on the impact of the ads.

Round 2. May 8, 2004
The public backlash starts to build the PR and executives don't really know where it will stop. The intensity and quick mobilization obviously catch the advertisers off guard. Several owners are cornered and quoted within the day of the launch of the idea. It seems as if commissioner is off guard as people ask them about the advertising. ""It isn't worth, frankly, having a debate about," commissioner Bud Selig told The Associated Press in Oakland before the Yankees-Athletics game." Makes you wonder what the folks at Sony felt. How about all the smaller franchises that could use an extra $50,000 per game? The united front of baseball fell apart.

Everyone wants the issue to go away. Spider-Man stumbles and falls. Hopefully, some advertising wizards get canned.
Major League Baseball officials and Columbia Pictures executives decided to scale back the promotion. There will be no advertising on the bases.

How did this happen? How did a handful of fans capitalize on earned media-cyclone to mobilize a huge constituency to pressure the collapse of a multi-million dollar revenue stream? (assuming future ad campaigns are also DOA?) Most surprisingly, there was no single group of organizations running the anti-ad campaigns. This was an individually driven and an Internet coordinated campaign.

It was a distributed (no central talking points) message with "message volume" trumping message discipline. How did the fans "win" ?

The structure for Network-Centric Advocacy was already in place.

1. Strong Social Ties - Fans know each other. They talk baseball and have networks of baseball friends that discuss sports regularly. While they may disagree about teams the network of fans share many common values about the game and the way fans should be treated.

2. Common Story - There has been a growing theme among the fans that owners don't care about the game, fans or tradition but only about money. This story fit with that common thread believed by many baseball fans.

3. Common Communications Channels - The sports pages, sports talk radio and sport web sites are a strong common element among a very active base. The ability to "ramp" up the opinion leaders among the fan base was an essential catalyzing force. The message went out to the most active fans via ESPN and other sports net type "hubs". These channels were sounding boards that enabled the fans to fuel the story without MLB being able to effectively counter the chatter across so many discussion boards and sports news stations.

5. Unified Window of Opportunity--- All fans at all games were going to be looking at Spiderman ads. This was clearly an attack on the whole network and therefore unifying the fans. The campaign may have had a very different outcome had Sony only picked a handful of markets to "crack open" the bases-as-billboards approach.

Fans were able to express outrage without "joining" anything. They were able to use their voice and clout without becoming a member of fans against ads or any type of coalition. The nature of the campaign was leaderful (every sports hack with an opinion could direct friends to polls and online petitions ) and yet very targeted at stopping the ads.

Lessons to learn ....
Build strong social ties...identify a common story...develop shared communications channels...

Help. Examples of Network-Centric Advocacy? Help Please Suggest a Case Study

A few of my friends have been teasing me. They think that network-centric advocacy is a myth that no campaigns are network-centric. They want proof that advocacy has changed (or is changing). They don't believe networks can self-organize and that distributed groups of advocates can effectively work together to produce change. They think top-down alpha leadership is the only way battles are fought and one and that any network that does exist is really just an early form of cults centered on a few personalities.

So...I am starting a new thread (category) of examples of campaigns, activities and investments that are really network efforts, exploiting the new dynamics and built on network strategy. I will pick off examples I can find from my past post, friends blogs,etc.

Please nominate some"case studies" of network campaigns and advocacy efforts. Let's build a list of strategies that are decentralized. The examples can be from any sector on any issue (also welcome local, state and national examples). Who are our best examples?

Please suggest campaign name: elements of activities that are network-centric, decentralized or bottom up (if possible the return on the network behavior.) I will start with some examples and will follow up with case studies in the near future.)

Thank you for your help.

Got Gas? (Part II)

Not that this was unpredictable...we will now hear the energy industry atempt to "turn" the high gas prices (which increases profits to oil companies) into a "NEED" for an energy bill which also increases profits and perks for the oil industry.

The White House has gleefully jumped into industry corner yesterday. I love that McCullen admits they have been trying to use every opportunity to pass the bill for thier energy buddies.....When gas prices were low we tried to pop open the Artic Refuge, when there was a blackout (caused by no regulation, voluntary standards and human error in an energy compant) we tried to pass the bill, when there was a war, when we got into, gas prices are soaking American economy ...again, we propose to give perks to our friends in the energy industry....see a trend?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, the President believes, like Americans do, the gas prices are too high. That's why we need a comprehensive energy plan, to address this problem that continues to come up every year. I think we've gone through this every year from this podium during this administration.

... It was a comprehensive plan. It would also modernize our electricity grid. And this was an important plan.

Get ready, the energy industry really wants the energy bill to pass and they are going to ramp up the fight in the weeks ahead to punch it through Congress.

Advocacy Strategy for the Gas Crisis

Got Gas? Ramp Up Your Advocacy Efforts on Energy Issues

Gas prices will be high for at least the next few weeks. It is going to hurt. The media are going to be all over the issue. Bad air days, the Day After Tomorrow and Presidential politics are shaping up a media cyclone on energy. Get ready for a whirlwind of attention around energy issues.

This is a great time for a network-centric response from the movement. No one was pitching foundations and donors on a high gas price campaign two months ago. If you care about hurting policy makers that in federal office this is a good issue to jump on.

What does this mean to advocacy groups?
1. There will be new calls for all the wrong things (open reserves, pop open the Arctic Refuge, decrease environmental regulation and... tax breaks for the rich).
2. Other issues will fall lower on the priority (attention) scale for a moment.
3. Opportunity to engage new people for a few weeks.
4. There is going to be interest in the groups that have ties to the issue.
5. The media will need people to comment on story angles and debate energy issues.

What should you do?

* Develop your talking points.
This administration has continually demonstrated favoritism toward the oil industry over the concerns of ordinary people...opposing efficiency standards, creating Hummer Tax breaks, gutting clean air, green space and environmental protection. It is no surprise that higher gas prices pump millions of dollars of new revenue into the Texas oil economy. It is no surprise that our over dependance on energy continue to degrade quality of life. Feeding this economy more gas to solve an energy crisis is like feeding a pig more food to solve a weight problem. ......High painful gas prices are not merely a market trend it is a reflection of years of bad policy on fuel standards, energy efficiency requirements, sprawl and failure to seriously invest in renewable energy. It is a reflection of a hostile foriegn policy. People need mass transit (cut and opposed by lawmakers), need clean air that comes with better efficiency engines, need work and housing that are close to each other, they need recreational opportunities and green spaces that close at hand rather than far away.

....... Local politicians are not blame free. Local ordinances were defeated that would have saved millions in energy efficiency investments. The localities purchased SUVs and gas guzzler vehicles rather than hybrids. Today, people can do something to get the economy moving in the right direction, the sustainable direction. Towns can pass....

...Stop sending our family recreation money to Texas oil companies. Stop sending hard earned dollars to the Middle East. Pass laws that reduce our energy consumption.

* Advocacy Groups Must Get Ready...Move Resources
Move staff, tools and budget into the energy,climate, air, green space and program areas of your operations. Stop working on that report that you think was going to make big news (unless it is about gas) and table it until after this news cycle runs the course. Focus your web, email newsletters and press efforts on the energy "hook".

Develop at least 1 page on your site that talks about the policy that you worked on that would have helped improve energy efficiency. Develop a "high gas price email appeal" include the impact that high gas prices will have on your activities (travel costs, clean ups, organizing, etc.) You need more money because gas is more expensive (the appeal will not only drive home the point that high gas prices are sucking the budget out of schools, police, cities and nonprofit groups but out of their personal budgets and it may raise you some cash!)

* Prepare for Success
If you normally work alone on mass transit issues, energy issues or sustainability and efficiency issues you may have the opportunity to work with and organize many new volunteers (Most will only stick around while prices hurt so be prepared to do something constructive with them - have them meet at a local coffee shop to develop ten story angles and ten things anyone can take to save Gas. ) ...have volunteers check air pressure at gas stations and pass out people as they check their own oil pressure...boycott the most expensive stations...offer people walking escorts to and from local mass transit...encourage folks to trade in SUV's for better cars.

Rally Your Speakers
Organize a cooffe discussion of talking points around energy issues. Bring a video recorder and practice interviewing each other. Jump on the talk radio and hammer the point home. Have talk radio parties at a local bar and use cell phones to jam a show about gas price issue.

Work the opportunity .
High gas prices hurt. They effect everyone. This is a bad issue for policy makers that have cozied up to the energy industry. The movement can loose ground or gain ground during this cycle. Loan your talents and expertise to the groups that can make best use of you for the next few weeks.

The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > Bush and Kerry Camps Trade Blows Over Gasoline Prices

All told, prices have risen 43 cents per gallon since January 1," they said in the letter. "In addition, small businesses and commercial drivers are struggling to keep up with the cost of diesel fuel, and the cumulative impact of these price increases has fueled inflationary growth and hurt our economy."

Psychogreography and Advocacy

There is a new underground movement exploding among the trend setter crowd in big cities. The movement is based on acquiring "experiences" vs. acquiring goods. This is a great development for advocacy folks. It is a trend that is extended from the raves, flash-mobs and extreme sports junkys. It seems to be popping up in new ways all over the place.

I read an article in Smithsonian about "urban explorers" which essentially try to seek out abandon industrial age sites for the fun of visiting them. Tops on these list are abandon factories, subway stations that are decommissioned, sewer systems, abandon government road projects, old smelters and plants. There is a degree of danger from the site and the abandon neighborhood. Explors take photos and write essays as they run into rats, homeless folks, wondering dogs, etc. It is like a new gothham sport. Adventruetourism in our near spaces.

Now I read about this ...

This weekend New York City is seeing a number of activities representative of the urban reclamation trend we talked about last December (Urban Reclamation TC). The second annual Psy.Geo.Conflux is a conference and series of events dedicated to psychogeography (the study of the effects of the geographic environment on the emotions and behavior of individuals). Events include a human scale chess game in the Southside of Williamsburg, a love shrine scavenger hunt in Central Park (complete with recorded soundtracks for particpants), and a nomadic talk show with neighborhood locals and passerbyers as guests. -Trendsetter

Going with the flow of big city hunts you should look at the They are not targeting mainstream yet they are using the promotion to get early adapters. ---" The top players will be eligible for prizes (think stickers, t-shirts, bags, shoes) and hundreds of players will qualify for the pre-buy of the Nike Air Force-X MID


1. Sign-up to participate on the site. Click the SIGN-UP button and send us your cell phone number and carrier.
2. You will receive a confirmation PIN number via your cell phone.
3. Click on CONFIRM and input your PIN number.
4. You will be prompted to input your player name and personal info. You will not be eligible for any prizes unless the form is completed.
5. Hit the streets of New York and wait for your first SMS alert. The alert will tell you the cross streets of the latest posting. Get there as fast as you can.
6. When you see a poster on the street dial 6453 and enter the code on the poster. You will receive a message telling you how many points your target was worth and how many overall points you have.
7. Check back at the site to see where you rank. The top players will qualify for prizes, but hundreds will qualify for the pre-buy. Don’t give up.
8. Continue searching for posters until you receive an alert that the game has ended.

Each day a total of 4 posters each with unique codes will be placed in different parts of the city: 1 every 3 hours. Every time one is posted, you will get an SMS alert indicating that a posting just happened and the its general location.

Posters are “HOT” (worth more points) as soon as they are posted and “COOL” down (lose value) as time passes. For this purpose, the point system will be on a sliding scale as illustrated in the following table:

User typed poster code Points received
Within the 1st hour of posting 64
Within the 2nd hour 32
Within the 3rd hour 16
Within the 4th hour 8
Within the 5th hour & after 4

At the end of the mission, you will receive an SMS that tells you if are qualified for a pre-buy or not. If not, you can still buy the Nike Air Force-X MID when it goes on sale to the public. If you do qualify you will be told a time and place to go where you will be guaranteed a pre-buy of this exclusive shoe.

The best of the best will also qualify for more prizes. You will be notified if you are a winner and told where and how to collect your loot.

Always check back at the site for performance and mission updates.

" Slick.

Ok. so what is the drill for advocacy groups. Lets do an advocacy hunt to tell our story. Send people to sewer outflows, look for tree forts and places that kids play closest to superfund sites, wade inner city streams, wait in line at an shelter to secure a spot for the last family that comes in. How can we help a new "experience gneration" our story and make learning about our issues an adventure?

Advocacy Ideas from Booz Allen Hamilton's Innovation Effectiveness Report

There are some good tips for advocacy groups to be gleaned from the Innovation Effectiveness Report by the Boozers.

I love the way this one builds the case for shaking up the groups that we support.

Profitable innovation, in other words, cannot be bought. Simply spending more usually leads to a waste of resources on increasingly marginal projects. The solution to innovation anemia is not to boost incremental spending, but to raise the effectiveness of base spending — to increase the return on innovation investment, lifting the firm’s ....

Base spending is core support in an advocacy context. Unfortunately, we keep paying the big groups to "innovate" new projects which apparently doesn't work while we erode the base spending at the start up groups that are showing signs of innovation and success. While the Boozers don't knock out the big groups with the first in their findings the case builds...

Our recent work has shown that incremental innovation investments are subject to diminishing returns — in other words, each additional dollar spent on new product development ultimately yields a lower and lower return. This observation passes the test of common sense: Spending beyond a certain point on any development portfolio should result in lower returns, since a company will naturally invest in the best projects first, the next-best after that, and so on, until it is tossing good money away on more and more dubious projects

hmmm. the big shops have already done their best work....Wolves, Parks, Impeachment, etc. They are "working" down into second tier and third tire policy projects for their groups. The more money the big shops have on "new" projects" the more likely they will reach into the depths of the organizations funding more junior staff to work on more marginal issues. Meanwhile Executive Directors at targeted state or local groups lack the resources to fight.

We discovered that companies and business units showed remarkable consistency, year after year, in their individual return on innovation investment. More over, we found the return on innovation investment of the best performers to be twice the industry average, and more than 10 times that of the worst performers.....Our study found that innovation effectiveness does not correlate well with company size or with the scale of R&D investment. In fact, the top innovation performers tended to have lower relative R&D expenditures.

...hmm. Dumb companies stay dumb. Innovators continue to innovate along a predictable path. Do we see the same dynamics in advocacy and political context? MoveOn is kicking out new ideas every month.... and then there is everyone else.

executives ought to look at successful innovation as the expression of a well-organized value chain or value web. An innovation capability requires owning or sourcing four critical sets of capabilities: ideation, project selection, development, and commercialization. Since a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the innovation effectiveness curve cannot be raised unless all four elements are mastered.

The problem in the advocacy sector is that we have separated the links into way to many sectors and shops. Advocacy capital does not flow across movement the way the stock market operates. Foundation staff that can capitalize ideas build personal relationships with the fundraisers that have been around the longest. Money and project selection is removed from market dynamics. The groups with the horse power to "commercialize" ideas are locked into traditional projects.

A company does not have to master all innovation capabilities itself. Just as best-in-class companies manage increasingly extended supply chains, superior innovators are learning to outsource segments of the innovation value chain.... close look at some of the recent breakthrough innovations in the consumer product world will reveal that very few of them were developed inside the largest consumer product companies. ....

there are significant structural reasons that large companies often miss market developments: New markets are too small, at first, to interest major players; margins tend to be lower than they might like; new products often cannibalize a company’s established cash cows.

This is the tale of the nonprofit sector. There are reasons that large advocacy groups miss market developments. The leadership worries about mission drift and worries that new ideas and brands cannibalize advocacy power. We see lower and lower turnouts and support for mainstream big agenda because there is a resistance to weave new broader narratives. How can we adapt? The same way our business competitors do. “Established firms must create, sustain, and nurture a network of feeder firms — young, entrepreneurial companies that are busy colonizing new niches,” Unfortunately, it is the opposite going on right now. Large groups are and foundations are hording capital and killing the network of the grassroots movement. Kerry vs Dean...the transition should have been smoother and Dean Team supported by the Kerry folks to continue to innovate but DNC (should have helped) mismanaged the transition watching the innovation network evaporate.

The article really hammered home a conversation with a friend. Carl reminded me the other day that "process dictates outcome." If we are unhappy with the advocacy results these days how are we changing the process that got us here?

The network for policy innovation and political reform already exist. There is not a community in the United States that does not have an effective liberal organizer in it. I have worked intensively in Georgia and Pennsylvania. I have gone to conferences all over. I am always impressed with the innovation and in our ranks. We need to develop better ways to swing our resources into the hands of these local activists and provide more of them with the tools that we have and yes we have to do it at the expense of the groups that are ineffective for that is the only way that resources will be deployed more effectively.

Tip to Joyce for the link.

Advocacy Eye for Campaigns

I am looking for a new team of advocacy folks that want to have some fun. I am thinking of a new blog called the "Advocacy Eye". The concept is based on the hit show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy".

Five gay men, out to make over the world — one straight guy at a time.

They are the Fab Five: an elite team of gay men dedicated to extolling the simple virtues of style, taste and class.

Each week their mission is to transform a style-deficient and culture-deprived straight man from drab to fab in each of their respective categories: fashion, food & wine, interior design, grooming and culture.

I want to get five new generation hellraising social advocates to "make over the world - one campaign at a time." Each week our mission will be to transform a style-deficient, techno-phobic, creatively bankrupt and traditionally lame campaign from "drab to fab" in each of experts respective categories: political feasibility, technical execution, organizing tact, communications appeal and fundraising.

I believe the project will get funded (both consultant time and investments for "improving the campaign of the week").

How will it work? (Pilot show of course then we get seed funding for the first "season" of 13 campaigns)

1. Initial campaigns will be nominated and selected.

2.The Fab Five Advocactes will work intensively with the campaign for a full week (everything will be documented, photographed and recorded to the extent possible. )

3. Within a month the content will be boiled down to an entertaining recap "show" and Launched on the site.

4. Other groups will learn tricks and tips. The selected campaigns will now be "fab" and the whole process will be lots of fun.

You can participate:

1. Submit your resume and talents and hourly rates. I will begin selecting and recruiting in the weeks ahead.

2. Suggest campaigns (local, regional and national campaigns) that are stale and drab.

3. Let us know you are interested in the Advocacy Eye.

Roadmap for Advocacy Communications | Reverse Engineering the State of Journalism Report

There is a great new report on the state of journalism in 2004 posted by The study is the work of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, an institute affiliated with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

The report is a must read. The trends and dynamics they discuss are targeted toward the journalists but the work also has major implications on the strategy you should be using to distribute messages and work with these dynamics.

Here is my take on the findings and a brief discussion of the possible strategy implications.

1. More news outlets are fragmenting views and audience. They are also seeing a general decline in audience size.

It is more important than ever that advocacy groups have access to great database of always changing news outlets. What online sources, radio, TV, magazines and papers are reaching your target audience. It is no longer safe to assume that if you get the local papers your are moving your message to the right people at the right time. It is also essential that you work your "hooks" into the online version, TV version and radio versions of the outlet (or reporter).

2. Budgets are disappearing. Newsroom is shrinking. Less reporters need to generate more content.

Make it as easy as possible for the reporter to cover your story. They do not have the time to track down leads and facts. The more you can complete the story for your journalists friends the more likely they will do something with your story. Make sure you have an online press room. Have the story, images, graphs, video, key contacts, etc. prepared for the journalists.

3. Online, ethnic and alternative media have growing audiences.

It is essential to develop the relations with the emerging media. The dynamics are moving in the right directions and the online, ethnic and alternative media are going to have increased budgets and resources to help "break" stories. these are the places where the y will have more resources to attack stories important to their readers. Increasingly advocacy communication staff should have a communications plan that taps into the increasing power of alternative media.

4. Much of the new investment in journalism today - much of the information revolution generally - is in disseminating the news, not in collecting it. Most sectors of the media are cutting back in the newsroom, both in terms of staff and in the time they have to gather and report the news.

Every good story hit is increasing in potential redistribution value. Many outlets are entering content sharing and re purposing agreements. Do not disregard smaller outlets as an outlet for your big story exclusive because the value of the story can be picked up across media partnerships. Target small bureaus of the big papers to see if you can "trickle up" rather than merely going with the "big" hit and then customizing the story for smaller markets.

5. raw elements of news as the end product...

Produce your own content. Provide your video, photos, recordings of people in the street or public meeting. The 24 hours cycle has an endless demand for fresh content and almost zero money to produce it. The more that you can connect them to volunteer video and accounts "on the scene" the higher likelihood that some outlet will grab the raw feed. If you expect it to be a great visual you can grab it with volunteers. Collect the images, track down email and contact information on people recording the event.

6. delivering essentially the same news repetitively without any meaningful updating.

The initial story matters. Plan your campaign and events for short burst of attention not a big ongoing story.

7. Journalistic standards now vary even inside a single news organization. ... a mass audience for news not in one place, but across different programs, products and platforms......the way that advertising intermingles with news stories on many newspaper Web sites would never be allowed in print.

You need a database of all the distribution channels associated with an outlet. Advocacy groups also need to think about exploiting the loose rules on advertising. If there is an upcoming report on water quality by the states or feds see if you can get an online ad for connecting people to your group. Ask your local news outlets (TV, News and Radio) for a sales pitches from the advertising department to see what options they offer for "placement". You don't want just ads you want on air personalities to wear your tee-shirt, hat, etc. How much would it cost to develop a Friday river report for the summer months?

8. public perception evident in various polls that the news media lack professionalism and are motivated by financial and self-aggrandizing motives rather than the public interest.

When the media screws up attack them. They are weak in the public's perceptions and the y screw up advocacy stories all the time.

9.Study shows general increases in journalist workload, declines in numbers of reporters, shrinking space in newscasts to make more room for ads and promotions

Again. Prepackage your key messages in short blast. Think about ways to use ads and promotions to move your message.

10. Traditional media is in TROUBLE..the economics are not looking good and audience is shrinking.

Advocacy groups had better start thinking about the alternatives and new ways to move messages directly to target groups without the media.

11. Online journalism appears to be leading more to convergence with older media rather than replacement of it. When audience trends are examined closely, one cannot escape the sense that the nation is heading toward a situation, especially at the national level, in which institutions that were once in different media, such as CBS and The Washington Post, will be direct competitors on a single primary field of battle - online. The idea that the medium is the message increasingly will be passé. This is an exciting possibility that offers the potential of new audiences, new ways of storytelling, more immediacy and more citizen involvement.


12. Those who would manipulate the press and public appear to be gaining leverage over the journalists who cover them. Several factors point in this direction. One is simple supply and demand. As more outlets compete for their information, it becomes a seller's market for information. Another is workload. The content analysis of the 24-hour-news outlets suggests that their stories contain fewer sources. The increased leverage enjoyed by news sources has already encouraged a new kind of checkbook journalism, as seen in the television networks efforts to try to get interviews with Michael Jackson and Jessica Lynch, the soldier whose treatment while in captivity in Iraq was exaggerated in many accounts.

While I would not expect any checks for your story ...make your story pre-packaged and easy to cover. when you have the "hot" issue of the moment be prepared to take much more intense volume of interest because of these dynamics.

Justundoit: Environmental Defense



There are some smart folks working at Environmental Defense.  I really like this internet campaign. I will try to track it's success (235,000 as of 3/2/2004).   It seems to follow the great rules of advertising (see Andy Goodman's Why Bad Ads Happen to Good Causes)

Things I like:
1.  Strong Visuals
2.  Good spokesperson (baby)   
3.  Simple message (protect my future..get a will, take care of education, protect my planet)
4.  Viral spread  (sending out across trusted networks that know which ad will resonate most with target audience.  ...I will be sending baby ad to my moms groups and smoke stacks to friends in PA and NJ)
5.  Focus on connecting children and environmental protection is playing to core American values
6.  Baby looks like my 6 month old son
7.  Works the environmental message in with other solid parent "to dos"
8.  Specific ask that is a low threshold action.
9.  Rewards participation (t-shirts)
10.  Most important, the site allows people to pick up the campaign to some degree (glifs for IM, wallpaper, sign up sheets, etc.)

Things that could be improved:
1.  The receiving screen is not customized based on the email-card sent and received (baby card should have children message! This is really offensive and easy to fix based on url hidden in post card link).
2.  Step by step process could be clarified (progress along a side bar is only available on the home screen).
3.  Confirmation email conflicts with the "STAY IN THE LOOP" tone and wording.  I clicked " Yes, send me periodic updates from Environmental Defense about global warming and other environmental issues on which I can take action.  but the email I received in one minute says "Welcome to Environmental Defense Action Network, a rapid-response email activist community that puts the power to
protect the environment at your fingertips. You are joining nearly 1 million other email activists taking action online with us to protect the environment. Being a member of Environmental Defense Action Network is absolutely FREE. All we ask is that you respond to at least 3 alerts per year. You can expect to
receive your first alert soon!"
  One..It does not read like a periodic update about global warming and other issues but a ACTION NETWORK heavy traffic response list.
4.  Donation is not clearly linked to my campaign interest (specific ad, staff or expenses to protect my boy)
5.  Donation requires me to fill out everything all over again.
6.  Donation is to "become a member"  rather than support the campaign specifically.  Yes, I would like to become a member! Count me in! I am excited to join Environmental Defense's member community over 300,000 strong. I support your use of leading-edge scientific research, sound economics and tireless advocacy to achieve key victories to the world's most urgent environmental problems. After I complete the short form below, please send me a confirmation of my gift.
7.  Nice site but the navigation is jumpy.  No press room for the media.  The petition signers in your area should be more like local environmental meetups, or spokes people for the campaign or a way to connect to others not a map.
8.  Activists Downloads are not very useful.  Why not add fact sheets and factoids that can be used in papers and web sites of allied groups.  What about talking points for the campaign?  What about speaker training? There is a huge amount of content and expertise on this site alone that could be packitized into useful products for lots of other groups to use. 

Overall, the campaign seems like a nice design and good communications effort.  However , the success is being handicapped by poor technical execution, and failure to respect the user experience (ie. total focus on keeping participants moving the campaign goals forward. )  The focus keeps trying to pull users back into the Environmental Defense umbrella (membership, action alerts and branding on everything (except pull tab handout) rather than enabling supporters to continue to move the agenda. 

Kudos for the campaign.  I will continue to support it and hope other do too.  I also hope we can use these analysis to further refine network approaches to advocacy.

Ensuring a Better Day After Tomorrow: Worldwatch Live Online Discussion

This is cool. It looks like WorldWatch is setting up sites in advance of the movie. I am assuming the site will be referenced in a press release on June 3. They are getting ready to go live with the movie to handle the interest in climate change that is sure to develop (for a week).

Ensuring a Better Day After Tomorrow: Worldwatch Live Online Discussion

Ensuring a Better Day After Tomorrow Thomas Prugh and Erik Assadourian June 04, 2004 — 2:00 PM EST (1800 GMT) Abrupt climate change thrusts the world into utter chaos in the new film, The Day After Tomorrow, which hits theaters on May 28. As people battle massive hailstones, cataclysmic tornadoes, and lethal snowstorms, a sweltering New York City turns into an icy wasteland—all in matter of hours. There’s no doubt that The Day After Tomorrow aims to entertain, but it may also be remembered as a timely movie that issued an important wake-up call about global climate change. Submit your questions now and join Worldwatch researchers Tom Prugh and Erik Assadourian on June 4th as they discuss climate change and the movie The Day After Tomorrow.

It is nice to know that the environmental community is not going to be surprised by the debate inspired by the movie.

Targeting Your Neighbors with Internet Ads

Advocacy groups should be following the Major Leagues pretty closely....Not just the scores. MLB and other major television dependent businesses are investing in technologies that would prevent people within a specific location from receiving content feeds via the Internet.

Executives of companies that make such products, known as geolocation or geotargeting software, say they are finding their niches. Internet security specialists, digital media companies and professional sports leagues, among others, have emerged as the early adopters of geolocation software, possibly setting the stage for broader marketplace acceptance in the coming months. uses geolocation technology from Quova, a company in Mountain View, Calif. Employing a technique like those used by competitors, Quova maps 1.4 billion or so of the Internet protocol, or I.P., addresses that are assigned to computers directly connected to the Internet.

Privacy-rights advocates take note: the mapping does not precisely locate the computers of individual Web surfers, but instead determines the locales of the server computers that corporations and Internet service providers use to connect individual PC's to the Net. Often, the geotargeting software can identify the ZIP code of the end user.

The article is interesting from an advocacy targeting perspective. How can I pay to stream commercials or other high quality multi-media to my target audience? How do I use Internet ads to build support for my local campaign to save the Potomac River? How can I provide a key note speech at the annual conference to supporters in my state? ...multi-media can be expensive if you get charged for the entire planet to download your content. Geotargeting will enable you to restrict your investmetns to the constituency that matters. It will help you provide video (with actionable links) in front of the political groups that count. Married with geotargeted ads and groups would only be spending money where it counts.

The same dynamics that played out on the national scale are now going to play out in local markets. For a very short time, the Internet is going to be very powerful for the groups that figure out how to use it locally the fastest.

Publish Your Letters! Women Get the Echo Chamber

Here is powerful and simple example of providing voice to your movement. The folks at saveroe are using a powerful effect of self-publishing the letters to Karen Hughes as a sounding board which affirms and amplifies individual voices. This is good grassroots movement building and good politics. They have created their own instant "echo chamber" to the people.

Check it out.....

Write a letter: Apologize, Karen Hughes!

Dear Ms. Hughes: I am a mother of 3, including an active duty US Marine;I am a grandmother; a proud, thinking, patriotic American; and I am pro-choice. I AM NEITHER A TERRORIST NOR A SUPPORTER OF TERRORISM.

I truly resent your implication that my pro-choice stance somehow makes me a lesser American than you or others with an opposing view.

The "kind of policies the American people can support" (as you put it) is not limited; we are a diverse citizenry. Certainly our military are not fighting to defend any one idea or "value"; rather they're risking their lives so that ALL ideas may be freely expressed; as guaranteed by the Constitution. It's what our founding fathers fought for; & what makes America great.THAT is what separates us from the terrorists - tolerance for opposing opinions, while respectfully promoting our own beliefs - CHOICE IS THE ESSENCE OF AMEERICA. Without it we would fall into the kind of imposed morality that fascists, terrorists, and witch-hunters so righteously impose on their fellow citizens.

I AM A FREE, AND FREETHINKING AMERICAN. A person such as yourself, claiming to espouse American values; ought to look to our Constitution & honor its values of free speech/thought & the right to dissent. THAT is what puts the Taliban, AL-Queda, & other terrorist/hate groups to sha......

Any group can use this strategy. Find an issue you care deeply about. Target someone personally to get the letters (I think they are more powerful than general letters to the editor) and then throw a little competition for the best letters. Posting all great letters to your web site (I would also email a complete copy of all the text letters back to everyone that participates at the end of the campaign. ) It is not much more then a bboard idea but it is targeted at someone and fosters member to member communications without some staffer jumping in the middle to "control messages".

Oh yeah ..flame Hughes for being an ass while you are there.

Network-Centric Theory of Change


I have been kicking around network-centric advocacy with quite a few of my friends over these last few weeks. Many of these folks are way smarter and less techno than I am. We ended up kicking around the "theory of social change" behind network-centric strategy.

Network-centric strategies do not need a new theory of social change. They are merely a new set of strategies built on a better and faster architecture. While many of the concepts are new, the change theory behind them is not. I have been diggin around for months and asking my hellraiser friends for an article we circulated for fun in 1999. It is from the 60's. Power and Powerlessness.... I could 't find it online so I have grabbed a crappy version from a hard copy scan.

This graphic has stuck with me for years because in a pre-technology world it lays out the struggle for resources and power and the relationship of tools to the struggle. Today's society has dropped a new set of resources in our lap that can be used to challenge the power of the status quo. It is our challenge to identify the tools and advantages that are they provide in order to move new agendas. Get busy.

A March is Just is Not What It Used to Be: New Collective Action

Here is a fantastic side-by-side of the Million Man March and the March for Women's Lives. There is a lot that we can learn from the progress of marches. It could be that I have selective memory loss but it seems to me that there are more marches these days. Are "marches' is on the up tick because they are effective? Are there more of them because the one party system ignores the will of the majority? or is there something larger here?

Are marches just getting easier?

The coordination, transportation and communication costs are coming way down. It is now easier than ever to self-synchronize as a movement (think of these as slower and more meaningful flash-mobs. )

The problem is that the police and traffic control are getting so sophisticated that marches are not very disruptive. (yet)

If they are getting easier (unkown) to do how can we increase the tempo to the point that the raw number of marches starts to make a point not the number of participants in each march. Is it beyond belief that we throw 10 more marches between now and the end of the year? Would it matter?

March strategy? What is the theory of change behind a march? How do the new dynamics at play in our society change the strategy used by march organizers? Are these just a reflection of a leadership (from the 60s) that has not come to understand the new strategy of collective action? or are these new examples of collective action in the networked world?

More questions than ideas today

Who is the Paul Revere in Your Campaign?

Via Ross Mayfield...

Who do you trust?
Which member of your campaign is most wired with the folks that you need to activate at critical junctures in your efforts?
Who is your Paul Revere?

"Revere and the Minutemen are an ideal model for public participation ....

... Instead of top-down, tightly controlled communication, when it comes to homeland security what we need is a network like the Internet, which empowers individuals and links everyone together. ..... But even more important than Internet technology is Internet thinking.

IDEAS: Was Paul Revere employing "Internet thinking" in 1775?

STEPHENSON: Absolutely. In a loose alliance of seven overlapping groups planning for independence, Revere was a member of five -- he was what some network theorists call a "connector." But William Dawes, who also rode out to warn colonists on the night of April 18, 1775, didn't know as many rebels. Because Revere stopped at all the right farmhouses, activating a network of local leaders, people who lived along his route knew what was going on in a matter of hours. Those who lived along Dawes's route didn't find out until much later.

Today, America finds itself fighting a networked enemy -- and this time we're the Redcoats, marching along in formation, waiting to receive orders from the top brass.

Is your organization investing in the right social ties? Are you strategically cultivating Paul Reveres? or are you keeping you staff in house and assuming that their ride will be different then William Dawes?

Your network is the key to your power to move policy and respond to real world events. Does your organization map your network around key policy areas? Do you nurture the ties with key workers in other parts of the movement? Are you encouraging your staff to be connected or are you suggesting they backstab each other for the sake of your brand and fundraising goals?