Deep Dive Breakout 3

Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Many previous Summit participants have taken creative ideas back home to their organizations. In this special recap session, they will share what worked, what failed, what they still want to try, and why they keep coming back. This will also serve as a great introductory session for first-time attendees.


Previous Keynote Standouts

  • Brainstorm of most memorable previous keynote speakers 
    • Mike McCurry, Steve Silver, Susan Brackney, Britton Stackhouse Miller, John Windmueller, Salena Zito, Pamela Baker-Masson
    • There’s always a tie back to your industry → the key is to find how the speaker is relevant to you, even if it’s not immediately apparent
    • Speakers are interesting, but the only way to get value is to apply what you learned to your own role or organization
  • For example, as explained by Britton Stackhouse Miller from the Washington Nationals, advocacy starts from the moment you step foot on the plaza → the sounds, sights, and the overall ballpark experience are what they’re focusing on, rather than the game itself 
  • Pamela Baker-Masson from the National Zoo spoke about “finding your pandas”- aka, use what everyone wants to talk about as your “in” to start the conversation about other topics that your organization cares about 
    • Importance of being prepared for the worst-case scenario and tying in crisis communications (ex. What happens with the panda cam if something bad happens?)

Unexpected Lessons from Keynotes

  • Thinking outside the box → importance of slowing down and listening and being willing to fail or say the wrong thing, and “taking that dive”
  • Don’t shy away from controversy → great conversations during and after sessions, creating moments for attendees
    • Ex. Salena Zito’s “The Great Revolt: Understanding the Trump Coalition” book was a way of introducing readers to people who don’t think like them, talking about the experience of being the voice that no one wants to hear
    • Don’t have controversy for controversy’s sake, but in today’s bi-partisan world it can come up naturally

Advice for Buzz Advocacy Newbies

  • Go to the keynote speakers, and specifically, those that you don’t think are relevant to you → you never know what might be applicable in the future
  • Learn at least one new takeaway idea from each session
  • Pick sessions you want to go to ahead of time, but be flexible → you can always ask for the slides from any of the sessions. Consider going through the program people and look up people you’re interested in meeting
  • Take notes on folks you want to meet, not only here but back in DC → try to find interesting ways to connect with people and then circle back once you’re in DC. It doesn’t have to be only about the topic they were speaking about
  • If you miss a speaker that sounds interesting, go up to them and ask about their topic to introduce yourself!
  • Find time to go through your notes → you might write down something that wasn’t in the slides and that will later spark something that matters

Specific Case studies: Previous presentations

  • AHA’s 2017 Lobby Day
    • Broke the rules with their program → tested everything they could digitally (emails, link placement, text messages, time of day, etc.) and shared learnings
    • Data analysis from the testing led to specific insights: early morning email sends performed best, eye-catching subject lines, increased email traffic is okay in certain times, etc. 
    • Importance of focusing on first-party data → investigated the differences behind these data analyses (ex. What’s different between an email with a low and high open rate?)
  • Free and “freemium” tools: “What I cannot let go of”
    • Pixlr: photo editing
    • Pixabay: free pictures, no copyright (stop pulling pictures from Google Images!)
    • Pikotochart: infographic maker, top favorite
    • Dribble: design ideas
    • Typeform and Google Form
  • Susan Brackney’s “Plan Bee”: “What I cannot let go of”
    • Your supporter list is like a bee colony: everyone plays a role, but there are some people that aren’t taking action anymore (ex. Male bees) and you should kick them off of email lists (hurting your rates)
      • Email vendors are trying to serve the content that they think their subscribers want. For ex. If gmail thinks people are not reading our emails, they’re more likely to put them in spam. So if you keep people on your lists that are no longer advocates and aren’t opening emails, they might start going into spam even for those that are still interested
      • Key takeaway is to remove people from your email list that are no longer interested → click to open rates will go up
    • We are all beekeepers and we need to keep our lists/hives healthy or they will leave → there are plenty of places where our advocates could go, and if we aren’t keeping them happy they will go somewhere else
  • Mike McCurry: “What I cannot let go of”
    • The messenger bridges the message for effective storytelling → your message can still fail even if you are a charismatic speaker, and it’s about trying different things until you get it right
      • What do you need to do as a speaker for your message to be effective?

Successful Implementation of Ideas from Sessions

  • Writing emails people want to read: subscribing to The Skimm, signing up for emails from every presidential candidate, emails from Axios
    • Ex. Elizabeth Warren sends long emails with her plans to rebuild the State Department, Pete Buttigieg sent an email during Pride with his Spotify playlist → writing emails that people want to read
    • Ask yourself, “what do our advocates want to read?”
  • Layering text messages and emails → always see an increase in both email and text when layering them
  • Motivating advocates to action: send multiple emails on one advocacy action
    • Thank those that already took email, those that opened the email but didn’t take action, following up directly, etc.