11 participants from 6 different NC occupations met with 3 communications professionals for a teach-in as part of the Feb. 25 Statewide General Assembly in Raleigh.
Here is a summary of what we discussed, vis-a-vis communications, online outreach, and media relations tips.
Please pass along to other Occupations.
Star, Keenan - Occupy Wilmington
Jennifer - Occupy Winston Salem
Tom – Occupy Greensboro
Michael, Myra, Stacie, Katina – Occupy Raleigh
Lars Din, Occupy Gainesville, announced a Southeastern Region Convergence of Occupations (SERCO), March 23-25, communicates via Interoccupy.org, has drupal forum
Nathan, Eric - Occupy Charlotte – Interested in learning more about building a forum. Can Clinton or BT or anyone else involved with the forum administration be available to consult with them? alsop_zero AT yahoo.com, nmorrison2009 AT live.com
Occupy Raleigh forum is at http://forum.occupyraleigh.net
. Enter at your own risk! ;-)
Ruby Sinreich, Orange Politics blogger and media consultant, http://lotusmedia.org/about-ruby
Mitchell Price, Planned Parenthood of Central NC, VP of marketing and digital initiatives
Tom Burton, Communications Director at Blueprint NC, http://blueprintnc.org/about-us
*All notes are paraphrased.
Use twitter as a tool to connect with reporters. Tweet news releases. Reporters follow twitter feeds religiously.
How to get media attention/coverage:
1. Have a “take” – meaning have something meaningful to say about current news/current events and how they tie in with what Occupy is doing.
2. Look for opportunities to enter into the dialogue. Example: When gas prices hit highs, write a news release or tweet about alternative energy, Wall St. oil speculators, or what Exxon is hiding at http://www.exxonsecrets.org
. Another way to get the message out is plan a creative action around news people are focusing on at the moment (for high gas prices example, hold demonstration against oil subsidies or promote biking to work).
3. Reporters more likely to follow you if you make it easy for them. Suggest communications work group start reaching out to local reporters to build relationships and become contacts that the reporter can dependably get in touch with for quick information. Watch the newscast, read the newspaper, look for the reporters who do activism/community-type stories, then email them, call them, ask them to coffee when you have a lead on a good story. (Aside: Media contacts should receive training. Occupy Raleigh has a former reporter (Chris C.) who can provide media training.)
4. Letters to editor are an under-used tool. If you read a bad news report, counter it with a letter to the editor, if the reporter got the spin wrong or missed a point, use the opportunity to educate on your cause and connect Occupy ideas to the current issues environment.
5. Visualize what kind of stories you want to see the reporters write (example: human interest features or a piece on the diversity of the group) and help research and build these stories. Pitch angles that promote Occupy and give the reporter the building blocks for the story. Idea: Write an editorial about what people are curious about: “Why is Occupy Still Here? Here’s Why We Haven’t Left Yet.”
Suggestions from looking at www.occupyraleigh.org
• In GA minutes, highlight the proposals presented and the outcome at the top of the minutes with links down to the full text below.
• People may be visiting the site to find out what the movement is about, suggest moving the “What is Occupy in 3 minutes” content further up the page.
• Use twitter more, especially from actions/events to publish ongoing updates (followers feel connected).
• Re-add the twitter feed to the website.
• If you are interested in recruiting people, try buying ad space to promote an event (like M/25) on Facebook. You can target by interests. You can name your budget because you pay per click. Use something iconic. The 99% is iconic.
Check out the presentation at:www.Slideshare.com/rubyji
: Five Aspects of Effective Networks in Five Minutes.
Tips for building the activist network:
• Build social ties, people are more likely to show up for an event if they know the people that are going. Every organization should have an open “happy hour” social to just have fun, affirm ties and welcome new members. The more people are connected, the more you form a “dense grid” for your communication network.
• When communicating digitally, make use of common language and stories that resonate with members of the group, discuss common views. (Example: Planned Parenthood is about women’s health and reproductive rights not “abortion.”)
• Idea: Design statewide communications, such as a statewide newsletter and include a story about what is going on at each place.
• Have a culture of shared resources, shared space, shared food, sharing helps to build a movement, build a network infrastructure. (Comment: Like the Skill Share in Carrboro.)
• Help people to feel a sense of network membership, feel like they are part of Occupy. Be welcoming, approachable, run little contests and campaigns to get people more active online (and more likely to stay connected and feel invested in the group). Example: Run a profile photo contest on Facebook, ask people to enter new profile photo for Occupy Raleigh FB page that gets voted on with “likes.”
• Start an instant community by using hash tags on twitter to start a conversation.
• Consider tools to share information and have meetings, such as:
o Google docs
, chat room
(video conf. software for groups, up to 40ish people)
crabgrass – group collaboration platform
• If you use ads on Facebook, you can do multiple versions, then look at success stats (example: Did they rsvp for event)? Drop the ads that don’t work.
Question: Dealing with negative publicity
Have a go-to person for the media on that topic. (How do you identify the go-to person?)
Someone who is good at pivoting from something they don’t want to talk about, to what they do want to talk about.
If someone does something that doesn’t represent Occupy, say that the person was representing themselves, follow that up with what your core message is
Tell your story in your words on your blog.
Send your press release to bloggers. Look at blog rolls (like Blue NC) to find contact information for NC bloggers.
Kat: Announced Facebook pages exist to coordinate:
Occupy Social Media,
Occupy North Carolina events page
Link to forum post