What with all the shows, e-books, panels and other crazy stuff being planned down here in the e.politics bunker lately, I’ve completely failed to let you guys know about the two presentations I have in the running for South by Southwest. You can help!
Head over to the easy-to-use SXSW Panel Picker and give your thumbs-up to my submissions for the Interactive and Music conferences (after a very short registration — Mom, you and Dad will have to use different computers). Both presentations would be based on ideas in the Obama e-book, but the Interactive panel would focus on online marketing, promotion and brand-building, while the Music panel would look more at how bands and musicians can find and mobilize fans.
A quick correction to “Learning from Obama” — roughly two-thirds of Barack Obama’s online fundraising in 2007-2008 came in directly via an email solicitation, meaning that the money was donated by someone clicking on a link in an email. Let’s think about what that implies, which is that EVERYTHING else that the campaign did to raise money online basically just supplemented their email program.
As of 4 AM today, the “Learning from Obama” e-book had been downloaded 2057 times — due of course to the work of everyone who’s linked to it, posted it, forwarded it, Twittered it or maybe even mentioned it in one of those “conversations” we all used to have before computers came along and relieved us of the burden of face-to-face communication. Great work, y’all! In that vein, here are a few more sites who’ve linked over since the last roundup:
Plenty of people are already looking ahead to the outcome of the 2010 elections, in particular what happens to the Democrats’ control of Congress. The party of an incumbent President almost always loses seats in Washington in an off-year election, and with the Dems having just enough votes to stop a filibuster in the Senate, Republicans have a powerful incentive to stall Barack Obama’s agenda as long as possible: they know full well that these few months are likely the high point of his influence in his (presumably) first term.
But if you really want to see a shift in power in Washington for the next decade or longer, pay attention to who wins the STATE legislatures next November. The state representatives and state senators elected 15 months from now will preside over the rawest political act in America: the redrawing of congressional and legislative district lines based on the results of the decennial census. Redistricting is legislative sausage-making at its finest, with members jockeying to preserve or extend their own power-bases at the expense of enemies. In the process, they usually try to forward the overall interests of their particular party or faction as best they can.
It’s not so often that you get to try a communications format completely new to you, and even less so that you decide to do so out-loud and in public, without a net. So when National Journal’s Sara Jerome suggested that we try conducting a “twitterview” about the “Learning from Obama” e-book, I jumped right on it. Turns out neither of us had ever tried interviewing someone substantively via public tweets, but hey, it’s only 140 characters, right?
When it comes to communications technology, at least: in a Netroots Nation panel today on political organizing in rural areas, Mindy Diane Feldman mentioned that some rural areas in this country are effectively leapfrogging a generation of communications technology, skipping past dial-up and even broadband internet directly to cell phones. We’ve seen this dynamic at work all around the world, as cell coverage penetrates to areas that wires have never reach, and it’s changed lives and whole local economies in the process.
This technological shift has obvious implications for political communicators, since many rural residents have been hard to reach and harder to organize. Door-to-door canvassing is out (unless you want to get shot at), phonebanking works in some places but not in others, internet access only reaches half of rural America and even direct mail won’t find everyone regularly. As cell coverage penetrates more and more of the hinterland, however, Mindy says that some rural political organizers are turning to cell phones as a primary tool, particularly focusing on SMS text messaging and Twitter.
They’re not the only ones, of course, since political organizers from Manila to D.C. have found that cell phones are profoundly political devices, particularly when they reach populations that are otherwise effectively off the grid. And of course, the gradual expansion of broadband will eventually reach many of these people, even in remote corners of the American West. But for now, country is apparently country, whether it’s in New Mexico or Nigeria, and cell phones are one of the few ways to reach deep into the boonies.
As promised during today’s Netroots Nation talk, below are links to our presentations and other materials that we discussed. Thanks to everyone who made it, and thanks as well for all the great interaction during the Q&A.
Pittsburgh beckons! I’ll be off to Netroots Nation shortly — our panel’s at 10:30 tomorrow morning, so swing on by if you’re in the neighborhood. But before I leave, here are a handful of stories from over the weekend that shouldn’t be allowed to slip by.
As you might have guessed from the big, fat graphic to the right, that series of articles I did about Obama’s online campaign is finally edited into convenient e-book format, just in time for this week’s Netroots Nation panel discussion on the same topic (hmmm, guess who needs a deadline before he can finish, well, anything).
We’ll be kicking the promo campaign into high gear over the next couple of weeks, trying to get this sucker into the hands of as many journalists, bloggers, Twitterers, texters, smoke-signalers and flat-out political junkies as possible. I’ll be hitting the appropriate forums (email lists, blogs, etc.), sending out a press release (never hurts), plus contacting reporters and show-bookers to spread the word as far as possible, but I’d owe you bigtime for anything y’all can do to help get it in front of interested eyes. Makes a great beach read for your entire communications department!
The useful thing about doing it as a PDF is that OpenOffice (which I used for the layout) neatly kept all the links in place, so it connects instantly to supporting materials around the ‘net and on the e.politics site itself, giving the thing a lot more depth and, honestly, a lot more value as a promotional tool. Plus, I picked a font that’s easy to read on the sand…
Guest article! Christina Zola wrote the piece below based on her notes from what must have been a fantastic public brainstorming session this past July 29th. Sponsored by the Progressive Communicators of DC and facilitated by Massey Media’s Sarah Massey, the discussion included dozens of DC-area media-relations experts and focused on the reality of promoting ideas and causes in a press environment upended by technological and social change.
Christina’s article provides a comprehensive overview of the event and a great source of ideas for the broader communications community, but it’s also a snapshot, freezing a moment in a evolving communications landscape. Thanks to all involved for allowing the rest of us to enjoy it.
Pitching Stories in a Challenging News Environment
The big question: what does the slow death of free media mean to communicators?
Relationships with the Media
Close relationships with reporters are valuable, but less so than before the shakeup — layoffs, downsizing, reorganizing means many of the writers we counted on to get our stories out are no longer working our beat — or working in journalism at all.
Reaching out to reporters we know is still valuable. Even if they don’t get back to us, their colleagues often do.
It’s just as hard to pitch to broadcasting as it is to print media. Now, we have to be more aggressive to get a hit, and have to go after more targets to get a hit. Anticipate the work taking more time than it used to.
Cultivate your list. Know how your reporters like to be contacted, and keep in touch.
Personal is still important, but with the shakeups, it’s not crucial.