Five ways campaigns can break through with pop culture

American right-wing political agitator and and news pundit Glenn Beck earns an estimated $90 million a year running a media empire aimed at using pop culture to shift cultural values (and political outcomes). Beck has three movies in development, an online TV network with 300,000 paid subscribers, an online news portal with over 25 million monthly visitors and even a line of jeans.

Culture Change Triad Model

The culture change triad model presented in Spoiler Alert: How Progressives Will Break Through With Pop Culture

Tracy Van Slyke, a fellow at The Opportunity Agenda and director of the CEL Culture Lab, was struck by the influence of Beck and fellow conservative culture warriors. She spent the past year analysing the intersections between popular media and social change. Van Slyke’s work is presented in Spoiler Alert, How Progressives Will break Through with Pop Culture.

Van Slyke argues that a disconnect between pop culture and progressive political strategies is limiting campaign reach and success. She presents her findings through the lens of the Cultural Change Triad Model, which describes major points where the progressive movement must invest to achieve transformative social change. She shared some of the findings from her report with MobLab.

Put People at the Center (Not Messaging)

Van Slyke acknowledges that many tools progressives use to engage people (social media and online organizing, for example) allow activists to reach both individuals and large groups. Conversations have largely gone in only one direction, though: here’s the message, action, or story you should read, sign, share, or like.

Van Slyke urges organizers to go beyond thinking about the messages they want to relay and connect with the lives, identities, and interests of the people they want to reach. “We’re really good at creating videos that go viral, and dropping them into YouTube and then rolling away,” says Van Slyke. “We’re not very good at thinking about the kind of story lines and cultural experiences that really attract people.”

Read the rest now…

New global online network is powering grassroots-led campaigns

Greenpeace Greenwire is connecting a growing activist community
Greenpeace Greenwire

Greenpeace Greenwire, a community platform and social network is - slowly and subtly, but surely - changing the way Greenpeace activism works around the globe. Countries with live Greenwire hubs include the United States, India, Russia, the … [Read more]

Put the power to change global air quality in people’s hands

HabitatMap's DIY approach to citizen science combines wearable devices and open data
AirBeam

Air quality data is a key piece of environmental policy making. Air quality measurements affect everything from local transportation rules to the global climate change debate. Yet most nations rely on government run measurement services that … [Read more]

Be a Lean NGO: Overcoming three key hurdles to build a more iterative organization

Lean Startup

It has been just three years since Eric Ries published The Lean Startup, and the book has become the standard playbook for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and around the world. The principles of the Lean Startup methodology, as you probably know, … [Read more]

Can an app help movements grow by scaling higher level grassroots engagement?

Loomio may make it easier for people to be (meaningfully) involved in campaigns
General Assembly, Occupy Wall Street

Keeping new activists and supporters involved in personally meaningful ways is a continual struggle for new and growing movements. Digital communications tools may expand reach but rarely scale engagement. Ever tried to use email, Skype, group text … [Read more]

Turning one big moment into a lasting campaign

How Compassion & Choices is sharing Brittany Maynard's story
Brittany Maynard

Every organization hopes that one day their online campaign will be the one to go viral. How does a digital team take an advocacy message and package it so that it does? And after the digital tsunami hits, can success be a hindrance for your … [Read more]

Climate activists call for justice in Ferguson

The power - and complexity - of cross-movement organizing crystallizes in St. Louis
Ferguson climate banner

Thousands of people converged on St. Louis for Ferguson October, four days of marches, rallies, sit-ins and prayer meetings protesting the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. The events drew support from … [Read more]

Digital campaigning in the age of marmots

How a nimble team turned an unexpected visit into more online actions
Marmot Licks GoPro

Expect the unexpected may be the motto of the coal exports team at Greenpeace USA. Yet it's hard to know what to do with an unplanned marmot. Despite that, the nimble campaign team turned the unexpected into an advantage. In early August, a … [Read more]

Street selfies driving up new supporter engagement

Amnesty International tests photo sharing in street canvassing
Amnesty International face to face fundraising

What if adding one extra step to your organization's street canvassing routine had the potential to bring in an extra million or more in donations in just two years? Those are the potential gains Amnesty International is looking at after conducting a … [Read more]