NDN Blog

The Republicans Face the Bottom-Up via YouTube

I will be in St. Petersburg, Florida, Wednesday night for the second YouTube/CNN debates – this time with the Republican presidential candidates fielding the questions sent via web video from the American public. I am very curious about how their slate will handle the questions posed to them.

As you recall, the Republicans initially balked at playing ball in this more wide-open media environment. But after the Dems did it this summer, and their more youthful  supporters harangued them to get with it, they decided to try it out. We’ll see how they will manage, and how the CNN journalists who ultimately screen the questions will treat them as well.

For those who are just tuning in, you can get an overview of the debate in the New York Times blog, complete with a few links, or plunge right into the fray of the more than 5000 entries at the YouTube website. I will be in the spin room after the debate and will report back to this blog by the next morning. Check it out.

Peter Leyden  
Director of The New Politics Institute

NPI Final New Tools Spotlight: Leverage Social Networks

 We end the New Politics Institute’s Fall New Tools Campaign by releasing a new memo by the Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook on one of the least understood but most intriguing of the new tools: social networking technologies.

The memo “Five Main Ways to Use Social Networking in Politics” lays out how the booming social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace can be used to do many of the old-fashioned fundamentals of politics: branding, voter registration, fundraising, volunteering and voter turnout.

Politics has always been about “social networking,” or getting people to organize their friends and family to support a cause or a candidate. These new social technology tools just supercharge an individual’s ability to extend his or her reach. And so progressive organizations need to understand how these new approaches can make good old politicking so much more efficient and productive.

Chris Kelly, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer and Head of Global Public Policy, wrote this terrific guide that can be used by those just getting started or those looking for more nuanced ways to use these powerful new tools. You can read the memo off the NPI website or download a PDF file for printing.

Kelly also gave a talk on the topic, along with three other top experts in the social networking field, at NPI’s final tools event in Washington DC on Wednesday. Next week, video of the entire event, and the individual talks, will be available off the NPI website.

Plus you can find similar memos and video of the other eight new tools that NPI has explored this fall. We encourage you to use this material, and spread links to it far and wide.


Peter Leyden

NPI Event Invite: Using Social Networking Tools

Social networking has always played a key role in impacting others, whether the impact is direct or indirect. The new wave of social networking websites and related tools just supercharge an individual’s ability to do this and make an impact.

Come to a lunch event where the New Politics Institute explores how to use this new social networking environment to enhance your personal or organizational goals. Social networking is one of the least mature of the new media tools transforming the non-profit and advocacy world, so figuring out effective strategies is more difficult than with tools that have been around longer like blogs. That’s why we are ending our fall roll-out of the 2007 New Tools Campaign of eight tools with a whole event devoted to social networking.

Social Networking Tools
Wednesday November 14, 2007
12:00 - 2:00 PM (Lunch will be served)
Phoenix Park Hotel
520 North Capitol Street
Washington, DC
Dave O'Donnell - dodonnell@ndn.org - or 202-384-1212

We will be bringing together four experts who know the technology and the best new strategies, and can clearly explain what works. They are:

Chris Kelly, Chief Privacy Officer, Facebook, one of the big two social networking sites where an explosion of politicking is going on. Chris has written a memo for NPI that will be released that day on all the ways social networking is being used in politics.

John Hlinko, President and CEO, Grassroots Enterprise, a DC Communications firm helping politicos use new media and tactics.

Cheryl Contee, Vice President, Fleishman Hillard, San Francisco, has worked with progressive organizations like Amnesty International and Witness to get their messages out through social networks and engage their supporters.

Ben Rattray, Founder and CEO, Change.org, an up-and-coming smaller social networking website dedicated exclusively to serving social and political groups.

The event is open to the public and is free to all. Feel free to spread this to anyone in a progressive organization who might benefit. But make sure everyone RSVPs. Thanks.

Peter Leyden

NPI New Tools Spotlight: Target Your Marketing

Each week this fall the New Politics Institute has been sending out a memo on a new tool that progressives can use, but this week we send out a memo on a tool that arguably can be used in conjunction with all of them: databases. More specifically, this memo talks about how to use databases in microtargeting.

“An Introduction to Microtargeting in Politics” is a terrific overview of an exceptionally important tool that, frankly, conservatives have used earlier and much more effectively than most progressives. At more than 20 pages, this memo covers a lot of ground.

The memo explains why progressives should microtarget, and what microtargeting encompasses, along with looking at some case studies where progressives effectively used microtargeting in recent elections. The memo then lays out six steps that any organization can take towards developing microtargeting ability, and concludes with three strategic imperatives that the whole progressive movement might consider as marketing continues to get more and more targeted. As a bonus, the memo ends with a detailed list of resources and organizations that you can turn to for more information.

The coauthors of the memo have a wealth of experience in the database and microtargeting fields. Mark Steitz is a senior advisor at Catalist, which Laura Quinn founded and runs as CEO. Catalist is a voter data and data service company serving a wide range of progressive organizations. Steitz and Quinn also previously founded Copernicus Analytics, a data mining firm focused on providing improved donor and voter analytics to progressive political clients.

You can watch Quinn give a 10-minute overview talk on the subject at the 2007 New Tools Campaign kickoff this summer in Washington DC. And Steitz plans on posting to the New Politics Institute blog this week.

This memo is highly recommended for those working to modernize the way they run messaging and advocacy efforts. Please send this email to those who you think might benefit. Thanks.

Peter Leyden

NPI New Tools Spotlight: Engage the Blogs and the Netroots

The blogs were one of the first new internet-based tools that really impacted politics way back in 2003. If anything, their power and influence have only increased year by year since then. More than ever, progressives need to be engaging the blogs and the larger community of the netroots.

Jerome Armstrong, known as “the Blog-Father” for founding one of the earliest political blogs at MyDD.com, wrote the first new tools memo for the New Politics Institute when we launched our New Tools Campaign in 2006. This year he has updated his “Engage the Blogs” memo to broaden his call to “Engage the Netroots.”

His updated memo introduces key data-points about the blogosphere and makes the case about why progressives need to engage bloggers, as well as how to engage them. Among other points, he shows how local blogs are becoming increasingly useful and influential. He also shows how the blogs are harnessing newer Web 2.0 developments such as video, and how social networks can be used to harness the full power of the netroots.

Armstrong gives some big-picture strategic advice on how progressives should evolve to take full advantage of the netroots' potential. Yet he ends with six very concrete, practical things that any progressive campaign or organization can do.

Watch Jerome give a 10-minute talk version of his memo at a kick-off event this summer in Washington DC. He was joined by other experts from other new tool fields who you also can watch off the NPI website.

For those who feel they deeply understand the blogs and netroots, dig into your address book and find some people who could benefit from a memo like this. Send this viral message along. Thanks.

Peter Leyden

NPI New Tools Spotlight: Start Re-imagining Video, by trying Web Video

Web video quickly has become a staple feature of the Democratic presidential campaigns, but it’s easy enough for all progressive campaigns and organizations to use. You just need to get past the threshold and try it.

To help you get there, the New Politics Institute is releasing a new practical memo that takes progressives through the process of creating web videos, from what you need to buy to how best to use video in politics.

The memo was written by Dan Manatt, the founder and executive producer of PoliticsTV.com, who has been immersed in the world of web video since the late 1990s. He starts by listing the 10 top ways that your campaign or organization should use web video in campaigns, based on proven methods that others have pioneered.

Manatt then walks through the basic steps to get you to venture into this web video world. These include a sidebar on 5 different packages of equipment that range from the low-end “Volunteer Package” that costs a total of $25 to the top-shelf “Senate Package” that will run you about $10,000.

If reading is not your thing, you can watch a web video of a 10-minute talk that Manatt gave on this topic at last summer’s kick-off event for the 2007 New Tools Campaign.

If you feel that you do know a lot about web video, then forward this to someone who does not. The more progressives creating and sending viral videos this cycle, the better. Help spread the word. Thanks.

Peter Leyden

The Verizon Case as an Example of Shifting from Old Politics to New

The New York Times broke a front page story this morning about Verizon blocking the progressive group NARAL from sending “controversial” text messages. Within hours, Verizon has reversed its decision, calling it “an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy.” (The NYT online version has the updated reversal on top of the bulk of the original story.)

The whole episode is a good example of how the new tools of politics, like texting through mobile phones, are challenging the old norms and “dusty” policies and regulations. We’re in that exciting but confusing period when the changeover is happening and many old patterns and habits have to be re-thought and adjusted.

This story has another interesting twist for the New Politics Institute. Just yesterday, we released a major new study on mobile media and politics, authored by Jed Alpert, the CEO of Mobile Commons, which is the company hired by NARAL to get its text messages onto Verizon. Alpert is in the middle of this shifting story, and his NPI Memo on Mobile Media is now available on the NPI website, as well as video of a recent talk he gave on the subject at an NPI event in Washington DC. Alpert also posted on the NPI blog about mobile media this week before this firestorm broke out.

The Alpert memo follows on a major report about the coming power of mobile media released by NPI last year, by NPI fellow Tim Chambers, co-founder of Media 50 Group, a company helping people in politics use mobile media.

This mobile media space is one that NPI has been tracking closely and will continue to do as it gets increasingly important to politics over time. Stay tuned.

Peter Leyden

NPI New Tools Spotlight: Go Mobile Now

Almost everyone you want to reach in politics now has a mobile phone that they carry with them at all times. You can’t say that about computers connected to the internet let alone TVs at home. Yet political people are only just beginning to use this critical new tool that holds so much potential.

Read the New Politics Institute’s “Go Mobile Now” memo that introduces people in politics to how this tool is already being used in politics and will increasingly be used soon. The memo was developed by Jed Alpert and Chris Muscarella, the founders of Mobile Commons, a company with experience bridging the gap between what’s possible in the mobile field and what needs to be done in politics.

Watch Jed, the CEO of the company, give the talk version of the memo at the kickoff event of the 2007 New Tools Campaign in Washington DC late this summer. He explains how mobile media is different from other media and why it is so good at getting people to take action, from signing petitions, to calling representatives, to fundraising.

Also this week on the NPI website, Jed will make some blog posts that will point out current references to some of the ideas he laid out it the memo. You can view these blog posts off the NPI front page or the blog itself.

We encourage you to send this email around to those you know who might best use it. And next week we will tee up another of the 8 New Tools that progressives can immediately use this cycle. Thanks.

Peter Leyden

NPI New Tools Spotlight: Buy Cable Smart, A Checklist

The big push of the New Politics Institute’s 2006 New Tools Campaign was to shift ad spending from broadcast TV to cable. This controversial political advice followed a trend firmly established in the private sector – to follow the audience’s migration to the more targeted medium. Many politicos did adapt last cycle by following our argument about why to buy cable.

This year we focus on how to buy cable, and how to buy it smart. Cable is more difficult to buy than broadcast, and so we developed a practical checklist that walks you through a step-by-step process that literally tells you what questions to ask. This memo is useful for anyone in the business of advocating for progressive values.

Read this new “Buy Cable Smart, A Checklist” memo, written by Ali Weise, NDN Executive Director. Ali was the Campaign Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Deputy Director of the DCCC’s Independent Expenditure Campaign in 2006, which spent over $55 million in television advertising last cycle to help Democrats win the House of Representatives.

Watch Weise (below) give a short talk that summarizes the recommendations at the kick-off event for this year’s tools campaign in Washington DC late this summer.

Finally, the memo ends with some thoughts on how the whole progressive movement might adapt to the shift to more cable advertising, including gearing up to produce more ads (that hit narrower targets), and reevaluating the financial incentives for media consultants who get paid the same for cable as they do for the easier broadcast. Something has to give.

As always, please send this memo around to whoever might benefit, and stay connected to our evolving body of work at the New Politics Institute.


Peter Leyden

NPI New Tools Spotlight: Advertise Online

Online advertising has many advantages over print and broadcast advertising, including super precise targeting and interaction with the audience. No wonder the sector is booming, with 25 percent growth in just the last year. So the New Politics Institute is focusing its first New Tools spotlight of the fall on this huge opportunity for progressives, with a call to “Advertise Online.”

Read “The Huge Opportunity for Online Political Ads,”  a terrific practical memo that introduces those in politics to online advertising, with a focus on the most popular forms, search ads, and display ads like banners and blogads. Even those who already are buying online will learn some great tips.

Or watch video of Henry Copeland, the founder of the pioneering company Blogads and a coauthor of the piece, as he gives an entertaining and informative 10-minute talk on the subject at the kick off event of this year’s New Tools campaign in late summer.

Copeland, whose Blogads connects about 1300 blogs to a wide range of private sector advertisers as well as some political early adopters, will make some blog posts on this topic this week. Check out his first post on the New Politics Institute website’s front page.

While there, check out other memos and video of the 8 New Tools that progressives can immediately take advantage of in this campaign. They range from "Go Mobile" to “Buy Cable,” and each week this fall we will spotlight one of them.

We hope you will spread the word through your networks and help everyone make the shift from the old politics to the new. And stay connected to our work at the New Politics Institute. Thanks.

Peter Leyden

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