Skip to comments.ACTIVISM 101 Review: We learned a lot! Read and discover how to take your activism to a new level!
Posted on 04/27/2003 12:09:56 PM PDT by daviddennis
The Activism 101 seminar held yesterday was a big success, with an enthusiastic group of freepers in attendance. And boy did we learn a lot!
Ted Hayes opened for the workshop with one of his rousing speeches. He pointed out that his group, with little save audacity and a flair for publicity, was able to get in the headlines without spending money or having big crowds. The answer, he said, was in outsmarting the opposition.
For example, he led a March on Beverly Hills -- not to try and shame residents into giving money, but to salute them for having accomplished the American dream. We can learn from Beverly Hills, he said, because here is a group of people who set out to accomplish something ... and did it!
The Beverly Hills police were notified of the rally and welcomed him with open arms for a day, as long as he obeyed all Beverly Hills laws, other than the one against sleeping in the park, which was suspended temporarily. Ted promised to leave on the next day, and he did, having made his point.
There are simple, good lessons from this example:
Wisely, the people of the Leadership Institute decided against trying to out-drama Ted. Nobody can do that. So they went straight into the nuts and bolts.
You are unusual
You are unusual, we were told. Here we were, on a gorgeous Saturday morning, spending time learning about politics instead of going out there in the gorgeous sun and enjoying life. And because of that, we probably don't understand how to formulate a message in a way which could resonate with the public.
A few sobering facts:
It looks like any home on the morning of December 25th, mom and dad wake up, their little boy wakes up, comes running, runs into the xmas tree, presents, rip open them, see him screaming with joy. To me the tax cut looks like that parents' heart, because they could afford what they couldn't last year.
The effectiveness of your message is the product of your CREDIBILITY,
How to increase your credibility:
If you are accused of prejudice by a specific ethnic group, find members of that group to support you. For instance, if you're accused of prejudice against blacks, and Ted Hayes thinks you're not, his statement will help you a lot.
Better yet, have your Black supporters attack your opponents - suggest they say that your opposition has smeared a good man, and you'll get more leverage.
In general, don't defend, counter-attack.
How to prepare for an interview
You want to know what your best points are, and what your opposition's points are, so you prepare a grid, like this:
(We're using examples from the 2000 election, but of course this can apply to any candidate or group).
|What you want your audience to think about you
George W Bush represents the common man
|What you want the audience to think about your opponent
Gore is stiff
|What your opponent wants the audience to think about you
Bush is dumb
|What your opponent wants the audience to think about your opponent
Gore is intelligent, competent
How to deal with nasty attacks
The art of not answering questions is one of the most important skills in politics. It's not that difficult to understand, but it can take a long time to truly master - and if you want to be a good spokesperson, you must master it indeed.
You should train yourself until you can do this without even thinking. Once you've done that, it becomes second nature and you no longer need to think about it. Only then can you be a truly natural-sounding, masterful, PR person.
So how does it work? Let's say you're candidate George W Bush in 2000, and a reporter asks you why you're even running since you're so much less experienced than Gore. Or let's say he tells you that you're dumb, so how can you run?
GO ON THE ATTACK:
Well, Dan, let me tell you what this election is about. The moms and dads I talk to in this district say the most important issue is restoring honour and integrity to the office of the White House.
The important thing is that if you're asked questions from the bottom of the grid (pro-Gore), respond with answers from the top (pro-Bush). That way, you are always seen as on message.
A transcript of conversations made in this way, with reporters desperately trying to get their subjects to answer questions, and the subjects smoothly deflecting them, can look very trite to someone who reads it carefully. But that's not the important thing, since the person who reads it carefully is not the real audience. The real audience needs the repetition of the main points, because only after that will the information get into their heads.
One example of this was a debate done between a candidate and his opponent. The candidate's big point is that the state now had a $1.7 billion deficit crisis. The dialogue went something like this:
Moderator: What are your views on education?
Candidate: Well, education is a very important subject, and it's in crisis because of the $1.7 billion dollar deficit we have ... my priority is to clean that up.
Moderator: What are your views on health care?
Candidate: Well, health care is a very important subject, and it's in crisis because of the $1.7 billion dollar deficit we have ... my priority is to clean that up.
By the end of the debate, the audience was bored and the moderator was fuming - but the real audience, the people reading the newspaper or checking a snippet of the debate on TV, gained one quote from it, exactly the message that he wanted to put across: We have a $1.7 billion deficit, and it's not going away without my help.
Don't point. If you're pointing, you are lecturing somebody and you're mean.
Don't close your hands or make a fist.
What does an audience remember?
Networking is organizing your personal contacts and their contacts.
The ultimate goal is to foster friendships and create a mutual help network. For instance, I produce video reports of Free Republic events, so I have good contacts such as RonDog and Ted Hayes. So if I need a good deal on a new car, or if I need to meet the Mayor, I know where to go to meet those needs.
It is best done with a spirit of helping people. If you try to find out "What can I get out of this?" you won't get much of anywhere. You have to give in order to get.
When you recieve help that can save your life - a new job, introduction to a new girlfriend, etc., it will come from a single, identifiable person. The problem is that you won't know who that person is until the help is given. So you have to spread your own favours around in hopes that you are remembered.
You can find people to network with at work, but you will want to go with them to the bar after work, where people let their hair down and socialize informally. A lot of business is done in these informal settings, and it will be easier to get the information you need to network successfully.
For example, if your boss is an avid videographer, talking to him about video instead of your company's business will create a rapport that will significantly improve his view of you. This will help when you need a favour from him, such as an introduction to other important contacts.
You can generally find out about these outside interests in informal conversation, as in the bar, or (for someone you don't know yet) by asking his secretary or personal assistant.
You need to get in touch with your networking contacts at least once every three months. A database program that allows you to sort by contact date is mandatory. You also need a bunch of networking fields, such as birthday (sending a card can deliver handsome dividends), contact information, connections (what people they know), family (always ask about the wife and kids), educaiton, affiliations, special interests, career history, accomplishments, and anything particularly impressive.
All politics is personal; that's why door to door canvassing is the best way to campaign. One day of canvassing is the equivalent of a $1,000 contribution, because it's very hard to turn someone down with his foot in the door.
Often people are afraid to ask people things necessary for networking, like your favourite foods or interests. Rest assured that most people like to be asked. And there is an old saying: If you don't ask, you don't get. If you want a political contribution, you gotta ask. If you want a political favour, you gotta ask. Get used to asking.
An easy, cheap way to stay in touch with your contacts: Read the newspaper (or articles on FR), and if an article comes up that looks like it would be of interest to your contact, send it to them.
PR and Earned Media
Want free promotion or coverage of your rally, event or candidate? You need earned media, the PR world's name for placement in newspaper and magazine articles.
If you want the media to come to your event, you give them a Press Advisory. When your event is over and you want it covered, a Press Release will ensure that your version of events is considered.
A press advisory has a very simple, formal structure:
| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
| Contact David H Dennis
WHAT: Free Republic rally
WHEN: Saturday, 26 April 2003 1:00pm
WHERE: Corner of Hollywood Blvd & Highland Avenue
The "-30-" is press release jargon signaling the end of the release. You can also say "# # #". You might want to give more details in the release than in this sample, but unfortunately we weren't given guidance as to what to say.
You should call the publication about 24 hours after sending the Advisory. The odds are pretty good that they've lost it, since they are flooded with them. If they have, don't get upset, just send them another copy.
A Press Release looks the same as a Press Advisory except that there is no "PRESS ADVISORY" notice on the top, and there is a news story instead of the who/what/where format for the Advisory.
The Press Release story needs to be written in the inverted pyramid style, similar to a news article. This means all vital facts in the first paragraph, and less and less important facts as you go down.
Your press release should always sound objective, not opinionated. Write as though you'd like it to be copied verbatim and published in the paper. (This sometimes happens, especially with overworked (and lazy) smaller media outlets).
A press release should never be over a page in length. It should be double-spaced, and end with (again) -30- or # # #.
So how do you find out who to send this to? You need to develop a list of press contacts. And remember, send the release to anyone who might have even the slightest interest in covering your event.
To get your list of contacts, find all the newspapers serving your neighborhood and ask to talk to the newsroom. Then ask who the editorial contact and news story contact would be. The editorial contact is for op-eds (articles on the editorial page written by people outside of the newspaper) and letters to the editor. The news story contact is for press advisories and releases.
You should talk to each contact, introduce yourself as being from your organization, and ask what format they want press information in (email, fax, etc).
Never thank a reporter for a story. He is just doing his job. Thanks might make him feel that you think he's in your pocket. You can thank him for his "objective article" instead.
Op-eds are difficult to get published unless they are on a topical subject - something that's coming up now. For instance, you might get your op-ed accepted on a bill being considered by Congress, or a public policy newly introduced by the President. Always end with information on the author, "David H Dennis is a small businessman residing in Woodland Hills, CA".
A letter to the editor should be between 100 and 250 words - the shorter the better. Letters on the long end of that continuum will be edited and you may be surprised to see whole sentences, paragraphs and ideas bite the dust. Best to do your own editing.
Always refer to the article inspring the letter ("Regarding your article on 21 September about Cockroach Politics ..."). Talk about your issue in the first sentence.
There's actually quite a bit more than this, including segments on Leadership and other topics, but this should provide enough for some
Please note that this article is not an official Free Republic Network release and should not be construed as official views of the Free Republic Network.
Hope you enjoy my account!
With regard to credibility, why should anyone sleeping overnight in the park not be considered a bum?
With regard to credibility, why should anyone sleeping overnight in the park not be considered a bum?Thank you for establishing a very important point about this 8+ hour seminar:
You really have to BE THERE - LIVE - to truly appreciate the information transfer which occurs. :o)The events to which you refer were one SMALL part of an almost hour-long seminar by L.A. homeless activist Ted Hayes - about how to do "guerilla" protesting when you do not have large numbers - of either PEOPLE, or MONEY - or both.
The lesson which he was attempting to communicate here was that while many of US would not want to engage in such "civil disodedience," we COULD profit from his professional relationship with the local authorities in general, and the LAPD in particular.Where do YOU live, and when would you like to schedule an "Activism 101" seminar near YOU - so that you can see the BIG PICTURE - live - for yourself?
Also, FWIW, the segment with Ted Hayes was NOT part of the official Leadership Institute course.Their instructors were gracious enough to allow us to invite Ted to talk about WHY and HOW has has been so successful as an activist for the past decade in Los Angeles.
Thanks, RD. I appreciate the gravity and the over-arching purpose of the thing, but find it a little difficult to view as serious activism sleeping in the park with one who bears a little too close a resemblance to the wild-man of Borneo.My current plans do not include sleeping outside in a park... :o)
...but I will join Ted Hayes in almost any OTHER endeavor, such as THIS one, from the FIT-AIM-ACT photo gallery, where Ted joined the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson at the fourth annual Repudiation of Jesse Jackson, on Martin Luther King's birthday:Ted Hayes is certainly not perfect, but on MOST issues, he is on OUR side - and that REALLY messes with the heads of the RATs. :o)
Ted Hayes speaking to the crowd about the need to support FIT-AIM-ACT
and the upcoming L.A. March Against Terrorism at the Los Angeles Marathon.
I concur. But it'll soon be linked from my profile page.
THANK YOU for posting it!Perhaps some of the other "Activism 101" attendees will also post THEIR thoughts and comments here. (hint, hint)
I will, too - soon.Until then, see also my OTHER "Activism 101"-related thread:
Memorial Day 2003 = "Mother of All B...?" - creative FReeper help needed, please!
It is NOT (yet) too late! THIS SATURDAY (4/26) in L.A. - "Activism 101" seminar [walk-ins allowed] ^ | April 27, 2003 | RonDog, Ted Hayes and the California FReepers
Posted on 04/27/2003 7:48 AM PDT by RonDog
One of the results of our "Activism 101" seminar (sponsored by the newly reinvigorated Los Angeles Chapter of the Free Republic Network, and taught by instructors from the well-respected Leadership Institute) was our decison to adopt as a "class project" a Memorial Day rally - to immediately implement the activism skills which have have just learned.(To follow is a ROUGH DRAFT of the proposed rally.)We need YOUR help to define and sharpen our message, starting with the NAME of this event, which Ted has suggested should incorporate "M.O.A.B." = the "Mother Of All Bombs."While I greatly respect Ted's political instincts, and I truly believe that we can use this upcoming holiday to expand our message beyond "Support Our Troops" to some sort of "Welcome Home and THANK YOU!" - the "M.O.A.B." concept needs some work, IMHO.I understand the reference to the bunker-busting "Mother Of All Bombs" which was a major part of the VERY successful "shock and awe" tactics which helped us win the war with minimal civilian and Coalition casualties, and I appreciate Ted's blending THAT image with the definition of a successful CELEBRATION as being "the bomb" - but I am not certain that the average American to which we are addressing our message will make that connection, at least initially.What say YOU, FReepers from across the USA?"Mother Of All BARBEQUES" has a nice "family picnic in the park" sound to it, but it perhaps does not carry sufficient gravtitas.And "Mother Of All 'Welcome Home Troops' Rallies" is a little wordy...Please post YOUR ideas here.THANK YOU!CLICK HERE for the rest of the thread
These folks are clearly dedicated to learning how to be more effective as leaders in their area. Kudos to each of you.