Most progressive advocacy groups still think getting “a story in a newspaper I read” is the ultimate PR coup. It’s so tangible, and its been the measure of success for so many decades, it's just so damn hard to stop.
After years of pointing to the limits in how progressives move our issues forward in a 21st century media environment, last weekend I had the great luck of being part of a real breakthrough moment.
The Act on Climate March mobilized 25,000 people to the streets of Quebec City, three days before the Premier of Quebec's provincial climate summit. By bringing together the best of modern organizing, communications, and digital campaigning we were able to elevate our issue, change the conversation around it, and frame it in a way that boxed our opponents in, all while achieving breakthrough success in traditional and online media.
It was a huge success, and, I believe, set a new high bar for integration. Here's how I saw it all come together from my role as campaign advisor.
A lot of people talk about social change, few have actually made it in a lasting way, changing not only an issue or a life but a whole system. Even fewer have become wise and remained humble after a lifetime doing it, and are generous with their sharing of what they have learned.
A wise friend of mine likes to say “be the thing that you’re on about”. In my world where organizations are encouraged to take bigger risks, often relying on the advice of digital change agents to direct them to unmapped territory, you want to be sure those giving you advice have actually been there before.
Communicopia is a 20 year old digital consulting firm that helps nonprofits and socially responsible businesses develop stronger online campaigns and programs. We are a small firm but have worked with some of the most inspiring social change campaigns of our times.
Some of the most exciting work I get to do is campaign planning: taking a group with a vision and some resources and helping them focus a tight communications, engagement, and digital strategy that's going to help them win.
Sometimes people want to start right away with a tactic - they like someone else's website/video/tool and want to be similar. But before you decide what the digital part of your campaign will do, you need to be clear on the things your campaign will be doing first. Are there protests? Are you doing PR or ads? Are you knocking on doors?
Jan 5 2015 Update: I am so excited to report the campaign blew past all its goals, raising over $340,000 in just a few months!
I don't often post here about my personal passion projects, preferring to stay focused on content useful for digital and comms directors working in social change. But every now and then a cause comes across your desk that really captures your imagination, and Pull Together is that for me.
People often ask me what are today's most successful online campaigns. It’s a great question to ask when planning your own, because the pace of change keeps speeding up, and campaigns that aim for viral growth and real engagement know that just adding a website and Facebook page to the same old campaign plans isn’t working anymore.