ActivismHowTo

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Beyond press releases, you may hold a press conference but don’t do it unless you have a really good story, or can bring in an acknowledged expert who won’t be available as a matter of course. Hold press conferences somewhere familiar to the media. Make it convenient. Try to avoid having to spend money to rent space. Is there a good community centre close to the downtown? Can you get the help of someone in City Council to use City Hall or the Regional Government Centre? Beyond press releases, you may hold a press conference but don’t do it unless you have a really good story, or can bring in an acknowledged expert who won’t be available as a matter of course. Hold press conferences somewhere familiar to the media. Make it convenient. Try to avoid having to spend money to rent space. Is there a good community center close to the downtown? Can you get the help of someone in City Council to use City Hall or the Regional Government Center?
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 * For women, use "natural" toned makeup. Avoid bright lipsticks, too much mascara or excessive rouge. Make sure jewellery isn't overly reflective.  * For women, use "natural" toned makeup. Avoid bright lipsticks, too much mascara or excessive rouge. Make sure jewelery isn't overly reflective.
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 * [http://action.eff.org/ Electronic Fronteir Foundation | Action Center]  * [http://action.eff.org/ Electronic Frontier Foundation | Action Center]

Include(LoCoMenuHeader)

LoCo Teams are all working to advocate digital freedom, and the adoption of Ubuntu, GNU/Linux, [https://help.ubuntu.com/community/FreeSoftware Free Software], and [https://help.ubuntu.com/community/FreeFormats Free Formats], and team activism is something that can make a huge difference!

Tips

  • Be Creative
    • Sometimes you need to be unconventional
  • Be Persistent
    • Don't take no for an answer
  • Be polite
    • Being persistent doesn't require being at all rude
  • Be Inquisitive
    • Do your research and find the resources you need to be heard
  • Be offline
    • Use the phone and even go out in the real world Smile :)

Deliver the Message

Regardless of the situation you find yourself in, there are essential rules to effectively communicate your message. Keep these rules in mind whether you are speaking to a large group or even to one individual.

Passion: You have to speak with real passion if you want to get and hold the attention of your audience. Believe in what you want to say and say it with great conviction. Remember, if you lack passion for your subject, how can you interest anyone else?

Know Your Member and Staff Person: Have a good idea of what interest your particular member has in your issue. This is vital to making a good presentation. You can do everything else well, but if what you're saying is irrelevant to them, you will not be effective. Be sure to demonstrate how the issue you represent affects them, their constituency and their district and state. Thus, you need to do some homework.

Know Your Topic: Knowing the topic is similar to knowing your audience; you are there because of your passion and knowledge of your issue. Be sure to have your briefing materials studied, reviewed and on hand during the meeting.

Have A Clear Objective: Know what you want. Meetings and interviews are often very short. You need to make sure to get your message across right away. Before your meeting think of a few key phrases that amplify your message in a succinct and memorable manner. During the meeting you can find places to insert this important message clearly.

Explain What's At Stake: Spell out in very specific terms what you want to do and what will happen if it isn't done. Explain why your issue is important to them by demonstrating the alternative in strong terms. Use convincing facts and figuring to support your position.

Put a Human Face On It: A great way to speak passionately is to give an example of how your issue has affected and will affect real people-maybe even you.

Keep The Big Picture In Mind: Knowing your issue is the first step, but to really connect with the audience, you must keep your topic in perspective with what is happening in the specific district and state your Member or staff person is from. Adding this perspective makes the topic current and critical. Give your listener that perspective and they are more likely to understand the importance of your message.

Empower the Audience: Give your member or staff person an opportunity to get on board and involved. You've captivated them with your passion and shared your knowledge of the issue: now don't let them off the hook. Before you finish, make sure you have their buy-in. Give them a specific opportunity to commit to take some action to advance your goal and they will become a powerful advocate.

Lobbying Government

Lobbying your local governments, whether it be at the town/city, state, or federal level, for digital freedom, and the adoption of Ubuntu, GNU/Linux, Free Software, and Free Formats, especially for schools, can be one of the single most effective and powerful things your LoCo team can do.

Petitions

Petitions are an excellent first step for new groups. They are tools for public education. The preamble should set out clearly what the issue is and all the reasons for your concern. (Remember the “WHEREAS’s!) They also force you to know clearly what you want from the government. If you want to ban proprietary software on all government machines, say so. If you want free software for schools, say so. But don’t leave a petition hanging with just a general, “we are against proprietary software” statement.

Petitions can be circulated door to door, left with sympathetic local merchants, or you can set up a table in the local mall (although this usually has to be arranged fairly far ahead.) If you are trying to solicit support in a public venue like a mall, don’t be shy! Smile and ask people as they come by if they are interested in their digital freedom. If they avert their eyes and walk away, so be it. Leave them alone and KEEP SMILING! Set a goal. Know when you are done and make a big deal out of presenting the petition. Get a sympathetic politician to accept it from you and alert the media.

Letter Writing

Politicians really do pay attention to their mail! Especially the volume of mail. As letters mount up on an issue, it will achieve greater importance. At the national level, one letter is considered to represent thousands of people’s opinions. The ratio declines as you move down the government hierarchy, but at the municipal level, fewer people write, so the letters still have clout.

Your letter does not have to be typed. Handwriting is fine. So is word processing. The key is that your letter is original and not recognizable as a pre-printed message. ALWAYS SIGN YOUR LETTERS. If sent by mail, include your address for their response.

Your letter does not have to be technical. You do not have to know everything about an issue to write and express your opinion. It does have to be clear. State explicitly what you want them to do. Include a specific question requesting her or his response. If the response misses the point or is inadequate, write again. Remember, at the federal level, a staff person in the bureaucracy writes the response. The actual politician may not even see your letter. Why persist? Because as the number of letters add up, the issue is given greater importance. Sometimes you are even able to educate the bureaucracy, or alert the politician to the fact that the staff has him or her signing inaccurate letters.

Calling

In addition to writing to government officials, you can also call them and let them know where you stand on the issues. Although it is unlikely that you will get to talk to the official directly, you will be able to communicate your displeasure (or pleasure) with their policy on a given issue. The staff person will take note of your concern and often convey it in some form to the official. If the official finds that her or his position is unpopular and untenable, your call may contribute to a change in policy.

Sample Conversation:

Staffer: Congressman Anyguy's office, how may I help you?

Caller: Hi, my name is Joe Anybody from the representative's district. My mother actually helped get Anyguy his votes at the Golden Acres Retirement Home during his first election, and I've been a long time volunteer on his campaigns.

Please note: the staffer will often ask you for your address so that they can confirm that you are truly a constituent.

Staffer: Thanks for your support. How can I help you today?

Caller: Please tell the Congressman to support xyz. Trust me, despite what people on Capitol Hill might be saying, everybody here in Shady Dales is in support of it.

Staffer: I'll definitely pass on the message.

Caller: [Something in addition to push for support]

Staffer: Thanks for your concern and your call Ms. Randomwoman. I'll go mention this to my supervisor.

If you feel strongly, you can also set up a meeting with the elected official or their staff.

Meetings

From your local city council to your highest officials, meeting with them is a lot easier than most people think. Remember, they work for you!

Whether you’re working to change a policy at City Hall or the federal cabinet, you’ll probably want to sit down and meet with a few of the people who’ll be making that decision. The approach is the same, regardless of how elevated the politician or bureaucrat is (and, yes, you do have to lobby bureaucrats). Be unfailingly polite, persistent, network, and leave no stone unturned.

Experienced fundraisers say you can reach anyone in the world with only two phone calls. Considering that a radio station in Montreal got through to the Queen of England, who can doubt this is true?! So remember, you may not know the Minister or Mayor now, but there is no reason you can’t get to know them. Don’t be intimidated. Once you have a thorough knowledge of your issue and have done your homework, there’s no reason you can’t go to meet key people and put forward your case in person.

Setting a Date

  • Make your request in writing and follow up with a call to the Appointment Secretary/Scheduler.
  • Suggest specific times and dates for your meeting.
  • Let them know what issue and legislation (by bill number, if you have one) you wish to discuss.
  • Make sure they know that you are a constituent.

Preparation

It is an excellent idea to reduce your key points to a one-page document you can leave with the decision-maker. It’s always easier to write a long document than a short concise one, but the effort to boil down your case is well worth it. Busy people (and the more powerful they are, the busier they are) will never read more than a page.

Think through ahead of time what it is you want the decision-maker to do. If the person you’re seeing is in Cabinet, for example, but not the Minister who actually makes the decision, think through exactly what you want. What is the most strategic thing this person can do to advance your case? Is it to speak quietly to someone, to issue a public statement or to introduce you to someone else so you can explain the issue to them? Your one page note should end with a very specific request.

Plan out your meeting. People can get nervous in a meeting, and time is limited. Be sure that you lay out the meeting beforehand, including who will start the conversation. Agree on talking points. It's tough to make a strong case for your position when you are disagreeing in the meeting! If a point is causing tension in the group, leave it out.

You should also prepare for the personal side of the visit. If nothing else, you will have advanced your cause if the politician is left with a favourable impression - if you’ve started the process of building a relationship. So, do a little research about the person you’ll be meeting. When was she elected to government? Where did he go to university? Ideally, you’ll find you know someone in common, or that you’ve gone to the same school, or that she was in school with your dad.

Be especially sure to research any previous good deeds for digital freedom. The best way to start any meeting is to thank the politician for something they accomplished in the past. Even if it was a long time ago, they’ll feel great to know someone still remembers. And you’ll have them remembering that these issues are (or were) important to them. Don’t ignore the small talk. It may be the best part of your meeting.

If you are going as part of a group, think through how many of you should go. As a general rule, it is a poor idea to have more than three or four people go in to meet with politicians. It is increasingly intimidating for them, and unwieldy as the meeting size grows. Be strategic. If possible do not go to a meeting in a group larger than two or three. Bring people who represent different groups that have an interest in the legislation like school board members, or teachers, parents, geeks, etc. Be sure to tell the scheduling person you are dealing with the size of your delegation and the names of the people coming with you. Plan ahead who will cover which points.

The Meeting

Dressing for the meeting is unfortunately something that should be mentioned. Although there is no question that your value as an individual has nothing to do with how you look, you’ll be more likely to reach a decision-maker if you are dressed in a way to which they are accustomed.

Business suits go over better than jeans and sandals. If you haven’t had time to research this person’s background, you can still look for clues around their office. Diplomas, photos, plaques. Find some way to have a more personal chat at some point in the meeting. Most people love talking about themselves. It puts them at ease. A nervous and impatient person is not easy to influence. And, of course, you may find something that creates some common denominators in your lives.

Be prompt and patient. Elected officials run on very tight schedules. Be sure to show up on time for your appointment, and be patient -- it is not uncommon for legislators to be late or to have your meeting interrupted by other business. Keep it short and focused! You will have 20 minutes or less with a staff person, and as little as 10 minutes if you meet with your elected official. Make the most of that brief time by sticking to your topic.

Bring up any personal, professional or political connections to the elected official that you may have. Start the meeting by introducing yourselves and thanking the legislator for any votes he or she has made in support of your issues, and for taking the time to meet with you. Many people have a one dimensional image of us geeks. Somehow they don’t think we have real lives, children, jobs, other interests. Breaking down the stereotypes is a significant part of your task.

Once you’ve had a bit of small talk, move quickly into the main agenda. Be courteous. Show an awareness that this person is probably very busy. Ask at the outset how much time the person has until their next appointment, bearing in mind that meetings often start late and keep backing up. Do not take up more time than has been allotted.

Present your case clearly and calmly. Give the decision maker your one-page note so they can follow along. Provide any more detailed papers you would like to leave as well. If your issue has a visual element, bring photos. Be sure to ask if the person has any questions. If you don’t know the answer to something, don’t bluff! Make a note and promise to get the information. And, then, remember to get it and send it to the decision- maker quickly, the next day if possible. Remember to ask clearly for what you want. And thank them, first, verbally, and then after with a thank you letter which reminds them graciously of any follow-up they offered to do.

After

Right after the meeting, compare notes with everyone in your group to understand what the elected official committed to do and what follow up information you committed to send.

Each person who took part in the meeting should promptly send a personal thank you letter to the Congress member.

Follow up in a timely fashion with any requested materials and information.

Educational Institutions

Talking to local schools about Ubuntu, GNU/Linux, Free Software, and Open Document Formats, is very important since schools have a lot to benefit from these and we have a lot to benefit from schools.

Companies

It is also important to contact companies like hardware companies to keep the pressure on to support Linux. Just find their contact info and contact them by email, fax, mail, and phone.

See: http://consumerist.com/consumer/unscrewed/the-ultimate-consumerist-guide-to-fighting-back-308361.php

Press and Media

Getting media attention can bring us into the public view.

Make the story

Make our case appeal to reporters. Tie the issue to other topics of interest. What are the financial issues? Is taxpayers’ money being wasted? Are jobs being lost? Are the alternatives to proprietary software better for the economy? Make it interesting to someone who doesn’t give damn.

Press Release

Write your own press release. It should read like a news story, not like your group’s manifesto. Put in quotes from group representatives. Be sure to include phone numbers so that reporters can call you to get more details and re-work your press release into their own story.

Fill in the “5 W’s” : Who, What, When, Where and Why. Make sure all your facts are absolutely accurate.

Send your release to ensure it reaches the media before or on your release date. If you are far from a media centre, you can fax or even phone in your release. It is then the decision of the news director in each outlet whether to use your story.

Sample press release: {{{PRESS RELEASE

(Your logo appears here) Group’s mailing address

Headline in Boldface Appears at Top

DATE: Put the date on which you want the story to be released, or put the words “For immediate release: at the beginning of your release.

TEXT: The first sentence should be clear, factual and grab the attention of the reader. It should tell the press what the story is about.

TEXT EXAMPLE: (City): Citizens Organized to Save Wetlands today announced the results of their audit of the costs of the proposed Department of Boondoggles development.

“By our calculations, reviewed by the firm of Somebody Credible Ltd., the Department of Boondoggles will be increasing the provincial deficit by $300 million by choosing this environmentally sensitive site, instead of merely recycling their existing building,” said group chair, J. Q. Public.

Citizens Organized to Save Wetlands are considering legal action if their current petition campaign is unsuccessful in persuading the Department to re-consider its plans. They are also planning a demonstration in front of Department headquarters to take place next Wednesday, the xth of xx, at 12 noon.

“We are confident that good sense will prevail,” said group researcher I. M. Green, “With the provincial election in the offing, and so many environmentally concerned statements coming from the Premier’s Office, we simply cannot believe that this deliberately wrong-headed policy will prevail.

- 30 -

(It is a convention of news releases that they end with “- 30 -”. It tells reporters that the text has ended.)

Contact information: (Don’t forget to include the name and phone number where people quoted in the release can be reached for comment.)}}}

Press Conferences

Beyond press releases, you may hold a press conference but don’t do it unless you have a really good story, or can bring in an acknowledged expert who won’t be available as a matter of course. Hold press conferences somewhere familiar to the media. Make it convenient. Try to avoid having to spend money to rent space. Is there a good community center close to the downtown? Can you get the help of someone in City Council to use City Hall or the Regional Government Center?

Letters to the Editor

Did you know that the letters section is the most read section of any newspaper? Not only do people in your community read the letters, government officials have clipping services that reprint the ones dealing with their area. Letters to the editor:

  • reach a large audience.
  • are often monitored by elected officials.
  • can bring up information not addressed in a news article.
  • create an impression of widespread support or opposition to an issue.

Letters should be short, direct and well written. Of course, they should be accurate and educate readers about your issue. Many newspapers have strict limits on the length of letters and have limited space to publish them. Keeping your letter brief will help assure that your important points are not cut out by the newspaper.

Make it legible. Your letter doesn't have to be fancy, but you should use a computer word processor if your handwriting is difficult to read.

Send letters to weekly community newspapers too. The smaller the newspaper's circulation, the easier it is to get your letter printed.

Be sure to include your contact information. Many newspapers will only print a letter to the editor after calling the author to verify his or her identity and address. Newspapers will not give out that information, and will usually only print your name and city should your letter be published.

Make references to the newspaper. Watch for opportunities to respond to articles that have been in the paper. While some papers print general commentary, many will only print letters that refer to a specific article.

Op-Ed

Most daily and weekly newspapers accept outside submissions for publication on their opinion pages. Longer than letters to the editor, op-ed pieces generally run between 500 and 700 words.

Here are a couple of tips on writing an op-ed:

  • Use short, simple sentences.
  • Avoid jargon.
  • Explicitly support or oppose something.
  • Personalize the op-ed with an anecdote.
  • Link the op-ed to a current news story but keep the focus local.
  • Follow the particular paper's guidelines for submission closely.

Try the following outline for your op-ed:

  1. Start with a personal anecdote.
  2. Make your main point in the first or second paragraph.
  3. Begin to elaborate two, maximum three, supporting points in the following paragraphs. Make sure your paragraphs are short and contain one main idea.
  4. Use facts, statistics and studies to support your arguments. Do not, however, be overly legal. Use metaphors (sports, movies and music work best) to relate complex ideas.
  5. Conclude with a paragraph that draws the piece together and links to your opening anecdote.

Call-in Radio & TV Shows

There are opportunities for free access to the airwaves. Listen to a show a few times before you call in. Get a sense of the host so you won’t be surprised if they disagree with you. It is easy, anonymous and can get your message to lots of people.

  • Call early and, if the line's busy, keep trying.
  • Write down quick talking points before going on the air.
  • Give the screener a clear, one-sentence pitch.
  • Once on, be energetic and get right to the point. Don't get flustered.
  • Use bridges to deflect questions. Respond to a left-field question with, "That's a good point, but what's really crucial here is…"
  • Again, do not get flustered.

Television Interviews

As an activist on any issue, you are likely to find yourself being interviewed by local television reporters. Here are some universal tips on how to deliver your message.

Appearance

  • Wear conservative clothing.
  • For men, avoid loud ties, jewelry or button-down shirts.
  • Be well groomed.
  • For women, keep colors muted and accessories to a minimum.

Makeup

  • For both men and women, use foundation on your forehead, cheeks, nose and chin.
  • For women, use "natural" toned makeup. Avoid bright lipsticks, too much mascara or excessive rouge. Make sure jewelery isn't overly reflective.

Setting

  • For a backdrop, keep it natural. Use plants or posters.
  • If seated, do not use a swivel chair.
  • If standing, pretend your feet have put down roots. Do not fidget.
  • Keep your gaze steady either at the camera or the interviewer (they'll tell you which).

The Interview

  • Write down and memorize soundbites before going on camera.
  • Make only one or two points.
  • Use common language, even when making a legal point.
  • Above all, remain calm.

Fundraisers

Good grassroots fundraising is not only a way of raising money, it is a way of raising awareness. (And it also deals with that unspoken question of the uninitiated public, “where do those people get their donations?”)

Grassroots fundraising should involve lots of people as volunteers. Try to get local donations of supplies, advertising, prizes or whatever from local merchants (and of course give them public credit and thanks).

What kinds of things are grassroots fundraisers? Here’s a sample list. But it’s not exhaustive. You can build on these ideas, but better still, come up with your own.

  • Potluck suppers with an entrance fee. Fun. Great food. Cheap and you’ll have something for the campaign pot when the dishes are done.
  • Bake sales. You can get lots of people involved. Hold it at the local mall, or after church.
  • Raffles. Go for donated prizes or make your own.
  • Hold a community fair! Have clowns. Kids’ events. Sell things. Include an auction.
  • Ask a local bar if you can have an evening of entertainment for a cause. This will appeal to lots of young people.
  • Hold an auction. Or hold a flea market of odd junk items. Donate services — a deluxe brunch in someone’s home, or catered to your place, a sailboat outing, babysitting, carpentry, barter for cash for the cause!
  • Hold a massive yard sale. Recycle all your stuff and raise funds.
  • Hold a church supper. Church halls can be rented for not too much, and they are perfect. Big kitchens, well equipped for a crowd and they feel great for community events.
  • Order t-shirts or mugs with your message. Sell them at all your events.

Issues

Resources

Activism

Please use these resources to help create a customized how to lobby government guide specifically for Ubuntu, GNU/Linux, Free Software, and Open Document Formats. (We do not necessarily agree with any of the organizations, these inks are just resources to use on how to lobby government)

Information

Materials

Flyers, etc.

ActivismHowTo (last edited 2010-11-06 16:46:36 by supporto)