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Category: Uncategorized

Call for consultancy

Call for consultancy

Develop and implement our learning sharing programme

Background:

SOGI Campaigns is a global hub for campaigners working on promoting LGBT rights and countering ant-gender discourse, SOGI campaigns has created online and offline spaces, allowing experts in campaigning to share and produce knowledge, the main objective of the consultancy is to organize and animate those spaces, especially focusing on the global South and East.

Main Tasks: 

  • Develop a knowledge-sharing strategy informed by periodic needs assessments.
  • Maintain and implement knowledge-sharing strategy, including but not limited to identifying and documenting campaigns, producing newsletters, organizing webinars, workshops.
  • Develop and monitor content for SOGIcampaigns’ social media
  • Actively engage with community members and generate conversations
  • Promote our online courses to LGBTQI+ activists worldwide
  • Offer assistance and guiding to individuals who enroll in our online courses

Deliverables:

Strategy development

  • Within 15 days of contract signature: submission of a first draft of knowledge production and sharing strategy

Strategy implementation

  • Every month: one in-depth documentation of a successful campaign
  • Every two weeks: identification and documentation of one campaign tactic and/or trend
  • Every month: one webinar with external contributors on issues related to campaigning
  • Twice a month: one newsletter with original content
  • Daily social media posting and engagement
  • Reporting on daily promotion of the online courses

Additional deliverables to be defined according to the knowledge production and sharing strategy

Timeline/fees:

The consultancy spans over a duration of one year. Time load will be defined in discussions with successful candidates.

Fees will be discussed according to time load. Candidates will be expected to develop a costed proposal after time load has been jointly agreed on

Profile: 

  • University Degree in a relevant field;
  • Minimum two-years practical work experience in communications, campaigning in LGBT rights
  • Experience of working in/with non-governmental organizations;
  • Experience organizing events such as press conferences, workshops and meetings;
  • Experience in writing articles.
  • Fluent written and spoken English
  • Good organizational and prioritization skills and the ability to meet deadlines under pressure;

This consultancy does not involve travels and all activities shall be performed from consultant’s home and with consultant’s equipment.

Applications consisting of a motivation letter and a CV/resumé to be sent to contact@sogicampaigns.org by April 30, 2022

Confronting Disinformation Spreaders on Twitter Only Makes It Worse, MIT Scientists Say

This article appeared on vice.com

Of all the reply guy species, the most pernicious is the correction guy. You’ve seen him before, perhaps you’ve even been him. When someone (often a celebrity or politician) tweets bad science or a provable political lie, the correction guy is there to respond with the correct information. According to a new study conducted by researchers at MIT, being corrected online just makes the original posters more toxic and obnoxious

Basically, the new thinking is that correcting fake news, disinformation, and horrible tweets at all is bad and makes everything worse. This is a “perverse downstream consequence for debunking,” and is the exact title of MIT research published in the ‘2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.’ The core takeaway is that “being corrected by another user for posting false political news increases subsequent sharing of low quality, partisan, and toxic content.”

The MIT researchers’ work is actually a continuation of their study into the effects of social media. This recent experiment started because the team had previously discovered something interesting about how people behave online. “In a recent paper published in Nature, we found that a simple accuracy nudge—asking people to judge the accuracy of a random headline—improved the quality of the news they shared afterward (by shifting their attention towards the concept of accuracy),” David Rand, an MIT researcher and co-author of the paper told Motherboard in an email.

“In the current study, we wanted to see whether a similar effect would happen if people who shared false news were directly corrected,” he said. “Direct correction could be an even more powerful accuracy prime—or, it could backfire by making people feel defensive or focusing their attention on social factors (eg embarrassment) rather than accuracy.”

According to the study, in which researchers went undercover as reply guys, the corrections backfired. The team started by picking lies they’d correct. It chose 11 political lies that had been fact checked and thoroughly debunked by Snopes. It included a mix of liberal and conservative claims being passed around online as if they were hard truths. These included simple lies about the level of donations the Clinton Foundation received from Ukraine, a story about Donald Trump evicting a disabled veteran with a therapy dog from a Trump property, and a fake picture of Ron Jeremy hanging out with Melania Trump.

Armed with the lies they’d seen spreading around online and the articles that would help set the record straight, the team looked for people on Twitter spreading the misinformation. “We selected 2,000 of these users to include in our study, attempting to recreate as much ideological balance as possible,” the study said.

Then the researchers created “human-looking bot accounts that appeared to be white men. We kept the race and gender constant across bots to reduce noise, and we used white men since a majority of our subjects were also white men.” The researchers waited three months to give the accounts time to mature and all had more than 1,000 followers by the time they started correcting people on Twitter.

The bots did this by sending out a public reply to a user’s tweet that contained a link to the false story. The reply would always contain a polite phrase like “I’m uncertain about this article—it might not be true. I found a link on Snopes that says this headline is false,” followed by a link to the Snopes article. In all, the bots sent 1,454 corrective messages.

After the reply guy bot butted in, the researchers watched the accounts to see what they’d tweet and retweet. “What we found was that getting corrected slightly decreased the quality of the news people retweeted afterward (and had no effect on primary tweets),” Rand said. “These results are a bit discouraging—it would have been great if direct corrections caused people to clean up their act and share higher quality news! But they emphasize the social element of social media. Getting publicly corrected for sharing falsehoods is a very social experience, and it’s maybe not so surprising that this experience could focus attention on social factors.”

Getting corrected by a reply guy didn’t change the way people tweeted, but it did make them retweet more false news, lean into their own partisan slant, and use more toxic language on Twitter. Rand and the rest of the team could only speculate as to why this occurred—the best guess is the social pressure that comes from being publicly corrected—but they are not done studying the topic.

“We want to figure out what exactly are the key differences between this paper and our prior work on accuracy nudge—that is, to figure out what kinds of interventions increase versus decrease the quality of news people share,” he said. “There is no question that social media has changed the way people interact. But understanding how exactly it’s changed things is really difficult. At the very least, it’s made it possible to have dialogue (be it constructive, or not so much) with people all over the world who otherwise you would never meet or interact with.”

Engaging with supporters outside of campaigns

These precious insights were shared by the UK agency More Onion. More onion works with progressive non-profits to deliver high-impact digital campaigns and fundraising.


One of the biggest challenges of non-profits is how to keep their email audience engaged when there’s no campaigning action to take. Relationships with supporters shouldn’t stop just because you don’t want something from them right now, engaging communications are vital for year-round relationship development and growth. We have been especially impressed at AgeUK’s work in this area and wanted to share one example with you below.

What we love about their emails:

  • The tone and content are clearly developed with a strong understanding of their audience.
  • They clearly value the expertise and experience of their supporters and ask for their input as equals, not just using supporters to amplify the organisation’s own voice.
  • Their communications are brilliantly joined up with other parts of their work, including fundraising. In our experience, this pays off in terms of engagement and income.
  • They take the time to craft thoughtful loyalty emails showing the impact that your past actions and donations are having, not just in numbers, but through personal storytelling and photographs.

Trans Day of Visibility – Conversation on Campaign Strategies & Ideas

 

 

Transgender Visibility of Day (TDoV) on March 31st celebrates the resilience and success of Trans* and gender nonconforming people.

As we celebrate Trans* visibility, we particularly think of those who still feel invisible, even in their own communities and live every day in fear of discrimination or violence. On TDoV and every other day of the year, we must fight for a world where every trans person is respected and protected!

Though the COVID-19 pandemic limits in-person celebrations for TDoV 2021, activists and campaigners are working within the restrictions to shine a light on Trans* rights.

In order for Trans* activists to exchange experiences and ideas about campaigning under the COVID-19 pandemic, we organized a webinar where we had the opportunity to hear the voices of Trans* campaigners and activists from around the globe.

You can access the entire recording from our webinar here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fighting back disinformation

Like many of us, you might be facing attacks from opponents consisting of lies, propaganda, and other forms of disinformation.

A natural response is often to snap back with the truth. But one of the foundational principles in communication is that the “currency” of communication is not Truth, but Meaning.

So what is to be done, to reclaim people’s awareness of the reality?

This article from Nonprofit Quarterly offers interesting leads.

In a nutshell, the lessons are:

  1. Train people who do your comms in how disinformation works. Especially, train them to  not repeat the disinformation: denying that “homosexuality is not a sin” just serves to reinforce the connection between the two elements in the unconscious mind of the audiences
  2. Listen to how your own community spreads disinformation: Some lies are obvious and will be automatically screened. But some are subtle and might be spread by your own community. Make sure you also scrutinise what your own “field” is saying.
  3. Be serious about monitoring the field: disinformation spreads like a bush fire. Reacting too late is useless. There are some good tools out there to help you react in real time. 
  4. Disinformation engages feelings, like fear and excitement. Make sure your own comms do the same.
  5. Being reactive is good. Being proactive is better. Plan disinformation before it happens, and you will help “inoculate” your audience. Again, there are good tools out there to help.
  6. Collaborate across organisations to build on each other’s knowledge and expertise in fighting disinformation

Defanging Disinformation: 6 Action Steps Nonprofits Can Take

 and 

January 26, 2021

On January 6, some of us watched the storming of the Capitol with horror and surprise. Others of us watched with horror and resignation—an awful feeling that this was an inevitable outcome of the past four years of increasing right-wing extremism and surging disinformation incited by President Donald Trump.

In a BuzzFeed article entitled “In 2020, Disinformation Broke the US,” reporter Jane Lytvynenko recapped a perfect storm of disinformation that led to this point. Conspiracy theories around a “plandemic” shadowed scientific research about the novel coronavirus and how it spread across the globe. Racist lies about antifa-led violence marred the beauty of mass global protests for Black lives. Trump and his GOP loyalists’ attacks on the integrity of the elections eclipsed conversation on record voter turnout. Together, these streams of disinformation have undermined trust in public-serving institutions and even our democracy as a whole.

Disinformation like this has been effective in part because it preys on the raw emotion of fear. In moments of heightened uncertainty, disinformation offers easy scapegoats and appeals to a primal “us versus them” mentality. Disinformation also depends on old and often racialized narratives to gain traction in people’s minds and in the public debate. For example, false claims of voter fraud piggyback off of old narratives about government corruption and Black and brown criminality. “Plandemic” disinformation relies upon anti-Asian and anti-communist narratives. Because of this, we need to combat disinformation not only at the level of social media posts, news articles, and communications platforms, but also at the broader level of narrative strategy.

Over the past four years, we have seen facts take a beating from a number of abusers. But of course, disinformation did not begin in 2020, or even in 2016. As Steven Pool writes in the Guardian, there has never been “a golden age of perfect transparency.” Misinformation, disinformation, propaganda, and hoaxes can be traced back to ancient Rome.

Today, we are in a particularly evolved (or devolved) era where we’re plagued with what Claire Wardle of First Draft calls “Information Disorder.” The US as a nation has contributed a great deal to this global state of affairs. It has also contributed much of the technology through which disinformation propagates while remaining relatively buffered from its effects, until now. Renowned Philippine journalist Maria Ressa has characterized the current American confrontation with Orwellian disinformation as blowback, saying “Silicon Valley’s sins have come home to roost.”

The disinformation we’re facing today is no less than a technology-assisted form of soft power and social control. Dr. Joan Donovan, research director of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard, defines disinformation as “the creation and distribution of intentionally false information for political ends.” Bad actors seed false information online by manipulating algorithms and relying on unwitting actors to spread it, creating cascades and echo chambers where the misinformation is reinforced. The result is a spectrum of harmful impacts, from general confusion to vaccine rejection to the radicalization of white nationalists. All the while, harmful narratives of scarcity, competition, and survival of the fittest become more deeply entrenched.

There’s an old adage that says, “A lie can travel around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes,” and these days, those analog lies have the power of billions of bots and digitally connected humans behind them. The pandemic has put more and more people across the globe online for more hours in the day and has limited our access to trusted community sources of information that relied on in-person connections, such as church gatherings and neighborhood meetings. Disinformation now travels at the speed of the internet and has been shown to spread faster than the truth. In this context, disinformation is becoming more effective at generating chaos and seeding doubt in reality.

But we can fight back. And as mission-driven institutions committed to uplifting unifying values, the nonprofit sector has an important role to play.

In this context, we offer six action steps for nonprofits to combat disinformation, defend democracy, and build narrative power for progressive change:

1. Train staff and stakeholders in disinformation literacy.

Much like a virus, disinformation can only spread through susceptible hosts. We can help our staff and stakeholders inoculate themselves and their communities by training them to recognize misinformation and disinformation, and to resist the urge to share it.

There is a wealth of existing tools for nonprofits to draw on to build disinformation literacy in our organizations. Donovan and her colleagues created the excellent Media Manipulation Casebook with examples of disinformation campaigns and how they have spread. ReFrame and PEN America created a Disinfo Defense Toolkit with election-specific as well as general tools for building disinformation literacy.

In Minnesota, ISAIAH Communications Director JaNaé Bates says they first and foremost train staff and members to use their own “Spidey senses” and deeply held values to detect disinformation designed to harm their communities. Specifically, they use the Race/Class Narrative curriculum to train organizers, influencers, and member leaders to help them recognize and respond to racist dog-whistles.

Bates also started a disinformation alert newsletter with Faith in Minnesota and statewide partners. The newsletter, Repugnant, features a pug dog who calls out disinformation and racially coded dog whistles. One of the issues was titled “Don’t use the F word”; it advised readers to avoid repeating the word “fraud” at all costs when talking about voting—even when trying to debunk claims of voter fraud. This is because repetition of words like “fraud” directly contributes to disinformation around voter fraud, both by increasing the volume of conversation around fraud, and by reinforcing the cognitive frame of fraud.

This is one key mechanism by which disinformation spreads—through humans more than bots, and sometimes these humans are actually trying to debunk the disinformation by sharing it. If nothing else, nonprofits must train our stakeholders to not feed disinformation to the algorithms, and to share vetted and engaging stories that advance our larger narratives instead.

2. Listen for misinformation in your communities.

Oftentimes, full-blown disinformation streams begin as murmurs within our own communities. Nonprofits can add methods to listen for misinformation to the feedback and communication loops you already have with the communities you serve. ReFrame has created a START [Strategic Threat Analysis and Response] tool to help nonprofits document this process.

For example, organizers with Florida for All created a Slack channel that allows volunteers to record misinformation they hear from community members they call and text. Other methods include creating a misinformation tip form on your website or putting out a call for direct messages about misinformation through your social media accounts. If you have a communications person or team, they might devote a half hour every day to scanning social media channels for misinformation shared by followers and allies.

3. Integrate real-time narrative research into your program work.

Since disinformation can go from low chatter to trending topic in an internet minute, it’s critical for nonprofits to have access to real-time research on these trends. To this end, nonprofits can develop partnerships with institutions that conduct research on how conversations spread. This research can help keep your organizational communications from amplifying brewing disinformation and can indicate areas of political education or training necessary to inoculate stakeholders against new trends. This research can also inform new areas of work like the platform accountability campaigns run by MediaJustice and Kairos and the disinformation-specific program work of The Leadership Conference and United We Dream.

Potential partnerships abound: Research institutions like First Draft News specialize in daily and weekly research on disinformation trends. The Shorenstein Center conducts research on how disinformation spreads through various corners and various types of actors of the internet. ReFrame and its sister c4, This Is Signals, conduct research on narrative weather trends that include disinformation as well as trends in broader stories and conversation.

ReFrame and This Is Signals’ approach, adapted from Upwell, combines machine intelligence with human intelligence to monitor the “narrative weather” and to track conversations over time. The tools used for machine intelligence scrape data from different platforms (YouTube, Twitter, reddit, news sites, etc.) to yield broad trends such as spikes in conversation on topics like “police” or “socialism.” Then, researchers apply human intelligence to home in on the content of these conversations among specific audiences (for example: what Black elders 65–80 years old were saying about police after George Floyd was murdered, or what Venezuelans on the right versus the left were saying about socialism in the month before the presidential election). Taken together, these methods allow researchers to aggregate what people are saying and where they are saying it to identify what is resonating and what isn’t with different audiences in moments across time.

Groups in Florida partnered with ReFrame and This is Signals during the election to apply this research. Natalia Jaramillo and Jonathan Alingu of Florida for All both identified the pairing of narrative research and constituent-based communications as best practices.

“Yes, let’s have our content banks and messaging guides,” says Alingu. “And we need the ingredients to adapt and tailor messages in real time to different constituencies.”

“We tried to feed the research into spokesperson prep and media appearances,” says Jaramillo. “We have to invest in infrastructure that allows us to be more spot on and respond to the emerging conversations, and that doesn’t treat communities as a monolith.”

4. Tell stories that engage feelings.

We also need to up the emotional content of our storytelling. While we can’t just fight disinformation with content, no matter how constituency-specific it may be, we can make sure that the content we do create has more impact.

Disinformation travels faster than factual information in part because of sensationalism, which activates people to share out of deep emotional impulses like fear and excitement. Disinformation streams give new emotional urgency to old narratives and thrive in voids of clear, factual, and equally emotional information. Therefore, our content must engage feelings, but rather than prey on fear, our content can focus on movement-building emotions like joy, rage, humor, and pride. We can do this without giving into sensationalism because there is so much authentic emotion in our work. Examples include the Movement for Black Lives’ GOTV content and victory video.

The secret lies in not being afraid to focus on individual characters and relationships who represent larger communities and issues. In work with the Disinfo Defense League, Donovan has used the example of sharing accurate information about voting by explaining how your grandmother is going to vote, rather than just sharing the dry facts.

5. Fill the voids, and plan ahead to prevent the spread.

Here is how Alingu is thinking about future integration with nonprofits in Florida:

We need to incorporate disinformation research into opposition planning and support members in critical thinking. We also need to look at information voids and make sure we’re communicating with people to fill those voids, because otherwise what fills those voids is disinformation.

We know that once disinformation is amplified, it’s difficult to erase its impacts; once the genie is out of the bottle, it’s hard to squeeze it back in. So, as much as possible, we have to prevent disinformation from spreading as early as possible in the chain of amplification, and provide accurate information to spread in its stead. To accomplish this requires planning.

Nonprofits can incorporate disinformation defense into various levels of planning to inoculate communities against disinformation for the long term. All it takes is knowing what makes the communities you serve vulnerable, and proactively moving narratives that are both explanatory and values-based to create a foundation of inspired understanding that leaves no room for disinformation to creep in.

For example, in Florida, when Alingu talks about information voids, one of the voids they identified was a lack of information reaching eligible Black voters that both acknowledged historical conditions of voter suppression and offered detailed information to help people overcome these obstacles. What thrived in that void was disinformation about rigged elections that ultimately discouraged some from coming out and voting at all. Alingu says he will apply this lesson to planning for future electoral campaigns and for their upcoming legislative sessions.

6. Collaborate across organizations.

When we asked Donovan about the role of community organizers and nonprofits in combating disinformation, she replied, “While I know the pandemic will end, or at least we will manage it through treatment and vaccines, I do not know how misinformation-at-scale will be slowed without a similar whole-of-society approach.”

One hub in this approach is the Disinfo Defense League. The League was started last year by the Media and Democracy Action Fund to fill a void in the larger disinformation field and to focus specifically on disinformation targeting communities of color heading into the 2020 election. This is an important formation for nonprofits to connect with, contribute to, and learn from.

Organizations interested in collaborating in the fight against disinformation can develop specific partnerships to share research, collaborate on communications, co-create narrative strategies, and train overlapping constituencies. Whether we are focused on slowing the spread of misinformation specifically or on shifting the narrative terrain to make it more hostile to the manipulation of facts, it will take a whole ecosystem response to seed new trust in our institutions and our democracy.

Unchecked disinformation poses an existential threat to our society as a whole. But the same technology that allows for the spread of disinformation also allows for the spread of beauty, connection, and collaborative creation that was completely unfathomable to our ancestors.

Similar to responding to pandemics, we cannot rely solely on the efforts of a few good people or a few good organizations to beat back disinformation. Neither can we solely rely on one network of organizations, nor the self-regulation of social media giants. We can take steps to curb the rising influence of disinformation, and we also need to challenge and overturn old narratives that give disinformation a foothold in the public imagination. In their place, we can seed new narratives that reflect the aspirational values of a vibrant multiracial democracy.

Jen Soriano, Co-Founder of ReFrame and MediaJustice, is a writer and nonprofit consultant who has spent twenty years doing cultural and political work to shift narratives toward justice. 

Hermelinda Cortés (she/they), Program Director at ReFrame and This Is Signals, is a strategist working at the crossroads of politics, culture, and narrative to build powerful movements towards the liberated world we and future generations deserve.

Joseph Phelan, Co-Founder and Executive Director of ReFrame, is a creative strategist grounded in social movements working towards liberation for all people and the planet. 

What will make people care for you?

As a campaigner, you deeply care about your subject. And your ultimate goal in (that part of your) life is to get as many other people as possible to share your concern, and take action with you. But there are many misconceptions about how to do this. We share here a couple of clever insights that we pulled out of the article “What makes people care” from the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

————–

First tip: Informing people doesn’t work

Social service organisations collectively spend millions of dollars each year on communications that focus on informing people. Sadly, these kinds of efforts ignore the scientific principles of what motivates engagement, belief, and behavior change. Consequently, a lot of that money and effort invested in communications is wasted.

Research from multiple disciplines tells us that people engage and consume information that affirms their identities and aligns with their deeply held values and worldview, and avoid or reject information that challenges or threatens them.

Research tells us that people are really good at avoiding information for three reasons: It makes them feel bad; it obligates them to do something they do not want to do; or it threatens their identity, values, and worldview.

People seek information that makes them feel good about themselves and allows them to be a better version of themselves. If you start with this understanding of the human mind and behavior, you can design campaigns that help people see where your values intersect and how the issues you are working on matter to them.

For example, researchers have found that people anticipating feeling pride in helping the environment were more likely to take positive action than those anticipating guilt for having failed to do so.1 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” poet and writer Maya Angelou once said. Research backs her up. To gain influence on your issue, you’ll need to understand what compels people to invest their attention, emotion, and action. If you’re going to make a difference, you have to use the science of what makes people care as the foundation of your strategy.

Second Tip: Move from monologue to dialogue

When you walk into a crowded cocktail party, you do not loudly introduce yourself and spout facts and opinions from the middle of the room. Instead, you grab a drink, scan the room, and look for a conversation or group that interests you. You sidle up, listen for a while, and—when you have something to add—join the conversation. Organizations often aim their communication efforts toward building their own profile with messages and tactics that are more about them than about the issue they’ve set out to address and the audience they are addressing. They are essentially walking into a party, announcing their presence, and asking people to pay attention.

This requires advocates to move beyond a focus on building and disseminating a message to stepping into the world of their target community. Think of communication less as a megaphone and more as a gift to your audience. Does it help them solve a problem? Does it make them feel good about themselves or see themselves as they want to be seen? Does it connect to how they see the world and provide solutions that are actionable? If we want people to engage and take action, we have to connect to what they care about and how they see themselves.

 

1 Claudia R. Schneider, Lisa Zaval, Elke U. Weber, and Ezra M. Markowitz, “The influence of anticipated pride and guilt on pro-environmental decision making,” PLOS One, vol. 12, no. 11, 2017.

How PR pros can harness the power of podcasts during COVID-19

This article first appeared at PR Daily

 

The format has grown even more popular despite fewer commuters during WFH. Here’s how communicators can make the most of it.

However, as routines shifted and the world acclimated to the “new normal,” this has changed. In the U.S., 18 percent of adults said they are listening to more podcasts since they started isolating and social distancing, according to Morning Consult, and Gen Z has increased podcast use by 31 percent since they started social distancing.

Spotify has reportedly seen an increase in podcast listening during activities such as cooking, doing chores and family time, Ostroff said, and the top 10 publishers reported a 52 percent increase in unique live streams in May 2020, over May 2019.

Among the thousands of podcasts launched during quarantine are:

  1. Here’s the Deal – Former Vice President Joe Biden’s new podcast.
  2. El hilo – The second podcast by Radio Ambulante Estudios, for Spanish-speaking audiences.
  3. Wind of Change –  An eight-part podcast series created by Pineapple Street, Crooked Media and Spotify, led by New Yorker staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe.
  4. EPIDEMIC with Dr. Celine Gounder – A twice-weekly podcast on public health and the coronavirus.
  5. SSW People’s Radio – A weekly podcast featuring stories and interviews from the people of the South Side of Chicago.

The ‘new normal’ for podcasts

What does this mean for PR pros?

If pitching podcasts isn’t already a central component of every media relations campaign, now is the time to start making this tactic a bigger priority.

Podcasts offer exceptional opportunities for executives to conduct long-form interviews during which they can convey multiple key messages, the company’s brand values, and their “hot takes” as thought leaders. They also empower companies to connect in a meaningful way with niche audiences, who are often devout listeners of the podcast, and who may truly move the needle for them. In addition, podcasts present an exceptional platform for exploring contemporary and complex social justice topics, if doing so is on-brand and appropriate.

However, effective podcast outreach isn’t as easy as doing a simple Google search to see what articles have been written on which topics and by whom. Becoming familiar with a podcast requires listening to several episodes—yes, each entire show, from beginning to end—to research the recurring segments, themes and types of guests the show invites on.

Still think podcasts don’t have a large enough reach to warrant the effort? Consider this: “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast gets an estimated 200 million monthly listens, which is over four times the reach of The New York Times online, at 43 million unique viewers per month.

 

Here are the top 10 podcasts in the U.S., by ratings:

  1. Crime Junkie (229.5K) – A true crime podcast by audiochuck.
  2. The Joe Rogan Experience (165.3K) – The podcast of comedian Joe Rogan.
  3. Call Her Daddy (120.9K) – Alex Cooper and the Daddy Gang exploit the details of their lives.
  4. My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark (126.1K) – Lifelong fans of true crime stories tell each other their favorite tales of murder.
  5. The Ben Shapiro Show (96.6K) – “The hard-hitting truth in a comprehensive conservative, principled fashion” brought to listeners by Ben Shapiro.
  6. The Daily (65.7K) – “What the news should sound like,” hosted by Michael Barbaro and created by The New York Times.
  7. Office Ladies (59.4K) – “The Office” co-stars and best friends Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey do the ultimate re-watch podcast.
  8. Stuff You Should Know (51.3K) – An iHeartRadio podcast covering everything from champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD and El Nino to true crime and Rosa Parks.
  9. Up First (37.4K) – NPR’s “news you need to start your day.”
  10. The Dave Ramsey Show (22.6K) – A financial podcast devoted to “straight talk on life and money.”

Podcasts are the new blogs

Podcasts are replacing blogs as the premier outlet for thought leadership content.

If PR pros don’t already have the capabilities to create a podcast, now is also the time to get in the game. This includes learning how to secure and use the right equipment, record the podcast audio (including backup audio and possibly video recordings), generate a run-of-show and content calendar, secure guests, create structure, create introductions and upload the podcast for syndication.

The upside of producing podcasts over blogs is that they present an opportunity to exponentially expand brand awareness.

If podcast guests are invited to speak on the podcast each week, and every podcast is shared by the guests via their social media channels, the podcast audience can grow organically. This presents a phenomenal opportunity for brands to expand their footprint by inviting synergistic brand representatives to be guests on the show.

The downside of producing podcasts, from a PR perspective, is that the executives have to do more of the work themselves. In other words, no one can ghostwrite a podcast, even if a team can help with the production end of things. It requires a serious, ongoing commitment from the leaders within the organization, who must then show up (often on camera) and feel comfortable sharing their thoughts on various topics publicly, which can veer into political waters quickly, without warning—and without any intention to go there.

It could be especially worth it for brands in the top five categories currently demonstrating increased listenership:

  1. Design
  2. Food
  3. Music
  4. Medicine
  5. Music history


The future of podcasting

Regardless of whether PR pros decide to dive into pitching or producing podcasts during the pandemic, one thing is certain: Those once odd little audio programs that seemed like fringe mediums are not so little, odd or fringe anymore.

In fact, at the start of 2020, 75 percent of Americans were familiar with podcasts—up 10 million from the year before, according to Convince and Convert—and 55 percent of Americans have now listened to a podcast, up 51 percent in 2019.

Since the first podcast was recorded in 2004, this medium has grown exponentially, and today podcasts actively competing for serious advertising dollars. Experts predict podcast advertising will surpass $1 billion by 2021.

Since most of the nation is still quarantined, this seems like the perfect moment for PR pros to research and invest more in this growing medium—while there’s still time to get ahead of the rising curve

 

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11 People Explain What Bi+ Visibility Means to Them

Article appeared first at Teen Vogue 

 

A lot of stereotypes exist about what it means or looks like to be bisexual or identify under the umbrella of bi+. Ultimately, to be bi+ means to have an attraction to more than one gender. Misconceptions about bi+ people stereotype us as greedy, confused, or going through a phase. That biphobia can also be internalized personally by people who do experience attraction to and relationships with people of different genders, and affect how bi+ people feel about their identities.

Whatever you think you know or understand about bisexuality from tropes in pop culture, TV, movies, or even conversations with people might not necessarily be correct. To set the record right, the best thing we can do is listen to bi+ folks themselves, because it’s clear there are many ways to own your identity and experience bisexuality, pansexuality, or queerness.

Here are 11 people on what being bi+ looks like and means to them.

Raksha, 23, bisexual Indian woman
“Love is something I give easily and often. It’s a privilege to experience any sort of relationship with another human being and, to me, being bi simply means having an open heart and mind to letting all relationships grow without imposing an artificial upper limit on their intimacy. I’m proud to be fearless in love, growing from the pain and joy it brings time and time again. In short, being bi feels like the radical act of loving love.”

Matthew, 28, non-binary bisexual person
“Being openly bisexual is only something I’ve come into in the last few years. After many years of knowing I was bi but only sharing that with close friends, I began to see more and more discussion about bisexual erasure and invisibility. I realized in 2017 that I could use my privilege as a white, assigned male at birth person with supportive family and friends and a stable career to make myself more visible as a bisexual person by coming out online.

Today, my visibility looks like a line in my Twitter location field that says I’m bi, showing up to LGBTQ+ events and spaces in the city and beyond, and sharing bisexuality news and memes on my social media.

[I want people to know that] bisexuality is trans-inclusive. This is incredibly important and widely misunderstood. Being bisexual means that I am attracted to people of all genders, but that gender can play a role in that attraction. Identifying as bisexual doesn’t mean you’re a slut, it doesn’t mean you can’t make up your mind, it doesn’t mean you’re in a ‘phase.’ Your sexual orientation is something to be celebrated, not denigrated. Also, if a bisexual person is dating or having sex with someone of a different gender, it doesn’t make them any less bisexual.”

Maria, 23, bisexual person
“I first had feelings for the same sex at 5 years old and questioned my sexuality well into adulthood. Even at 23, I’m still not 100% sure where I stand. You’re allowed to love who you want and express yourself however you want and are under no pressure to proudly wear the bi+ label. Some people are visibly bi activists, and some people prefer to keep it on the DL. Both are okay! Due to the prominence of bi erasure, people tend to pick gay or straight as it’s just easier to navigate the world that way. That’s why being visibly bi is an act of education and resistance. You’re showing people, ‘Yes, you can be bi. You don’t have to choose. Whatever you feel internally, you can express externally.’”

Lizet, 24, bisexual Black woman
“Being visibly bi means not looking visibly bi or queer for me, because I’m in a long term relationship with a cis man and people assume we’re straight. It’s frustrating, and has taken years for me to stop internalizing biphobic messaging that invalidates my identity because I’ve ‘picked a side.’ It’s a constant struggle between wanting people to understand my identity and picking my battles with ignorant people. Bisexuality doesn’t look a specific way. It doesn’t matter if someone is with someone of their same gender or another, it doesn’t change their identity. We’re also not more likely to cheat or more likely to have STDs/STIs because we’re bisexual.”

Rachael, 31, bisexual sex educator
“I spent my late teens and 20’s in a long-term relationship with a cis man, and I thought my attraction to other genders ‘didn’t count’ since I’d only dated men. A few years ago we decided to open up our relationship, and it’s been really wonderful to get to explore my attraction and the connections I have with people of all genders.

There’s some bi-erasure, too, since people still often assume I’m straight because I’m married to a man, but society slowly seems to be catching on that the relationships we’re in don’t dictate our orientation. I think there’s this cultural idea that while we’re all assumed straight as a default, we somehow have to ‘qualify’ to call ourselves bi/queer/etc. It took me a long time to realize that there are no qualifications—your feelings about yourself and your identity are valid. It’s also okay to explore those feelings even if you’re not sure, and if you feel comfortable identifying one way now and feel you want to identify differently in the future, that’s okay too. I think sexuality is, and can be, fluid.”

Maddie, 26, non-binary bisexual person
“I have been openly bisexual for many years with all of the struggles and joys that come along with it. Every year I grow to understand myself, my desires, my needs and my dreams in a relationship a little more. Being bisexual and non-binary means being able to shed all of the gendered preconceptions I grew up with about what relationships and sex are supposed to look and instead get to know each cutie I meet as a person who I can connect with in a new way.”

Sasha, 24, bisexual woman
“My journey to owning my bisexuality involved a lot of challenging self reflection, but has ultimately brought me a lot of inner peace! I went through a period in high school when I was incredibly confused about my sexuality. I was president of my high school’s Gay Trans Straight Alliance, while also hooking up with a girlfriend of mine, yet I was somehow still convinced that I was straight. It’s important for me to be loud and proud about my bisexual identity today, because I didn’t have any bisexual role models growing up.

The more I’ve immersed myself in the bi+ community, the more experiences I realize I have in common with other bi+ folks that I don’t have with people of other sexualities.

Some of my favorite experiences this year were weekly Friday nights with my bi+ girlfriends at San Francisco’s new and only queer/lesbian bar Jolene’s, watch parties of our favorite new bi reality TV show Are You The One, and checking out the growing meetups in San Francisco specifically for the bi+ community! Bi+ people are the biggest subset of the LGBTQ+ community, which means there’s a huge community here ready to welcome you.”

Ry, 18, genderqueer bi+ person
“To me, being openly and visibly bi+ is simply unashamedly talking about being bi+. That said, I don’t think there’s any one way to be, and you can be confident and settled in your bi+ identity without being open and without being a symbol of visibility. What I want the world to know about being bi+ is that, just as it is with all things, it happens on a spectrum. Not everyone’s bi+ identity is the same.”

Olivia, 22, bisexual woman
“For me, being openly and visibly bisexual is about actively dismantling our ideas of what love, romance, gender, and sexuality look like. It’s about disrupting our ideas of what relationships can and should look like. As a bisexual high femme woman, it’s also about disrupting what queerness looks like. Queerness looks like me in a floral dress and a full face of makeup, just as much as it looks like me in Doc Martens and black lipstick. Queerness looks different for everyone, and that doesn’t make any of us less queer.”

Eva, 23, bisexual woman
“I’m pretty online about my bisexuality. I came out on my YouTube channel about a week after I came out to a lot of important people in my life. While I don’t talk about my own sex life on my sex ed channel, I’ve been open about my bisexuality, talking about struggling with internalized biphobia, sexual fluidity, and my journey finding my own queer community. Besides that, I’ve had the opportunity to work in queer-positive spaces and live in pretty accepting cities, so flagging as queer in order to be visible for myself and others is important to me. For me, that’s wearing pride pins, combat boots, my nose ring, etc.

What I want people to understand about bisexuality is we aren’t ‘gay lite.’ Bi+ people have a unique experience and our own unique struggles. Don’t create gay events or supports and just assume they’ll work for bi+ folks in the same way, and please see bisexuality as a full identity.”

Helen, 26, queer woman
“Being bi+ is a beautiful thing. It means opening yourself up to a world of beautiful human beings and releasing expectations built around partnering. It means it is easier to see good qualities in people — even if you aren’t interested in dating them — because your natural state is to be open to everyone.”

Storytelling lessons from a life of adventure

The interview conducted by Emma Wickenden appeared first at Charity Comms.

 

The hunters of the remote Russian tundra must have been surprised to see Sacha Dench drop James-Bond-style out of the sky, with what essentially looked like a giant desk fan strapped to her back.

Sacha, CEO of Conservation without Borders, was on a mission to fly nearly 7,000 km across 11 countries by paramotor to help save the critically endangered Bewick’s swans.

Battling freezing temperatures, enduring injuries and treacherous conditions, Sacha flew along the birds’ migratory route from Arctic Russia to the UK. Dropping in to talk to communities across the route, she sought to understand and reveal, through stunning visual imagery, what was killing the swans and what we could do about it.

While not formally trained in comms, Sacha (AKA the human Swan) has a natural gift for storytelling which she’s used throughout her career to spotlight issues – from the plight of the shark to her latest campaign to save the Ospreys. We caught up with Sacha ahead of our annual Storyfest conference, where she was our keynote speaker, to ask about her unique storytelling techniques.

CC: In a previous life you were a biologist devoted to educating people about sharks. Can you tell us a bit more?

SD: A few people listened to what I had to say, but when I became an internationally recognised freediver, then the media listened, and I was able to really bring attention to the sharks’ cause.

CC: Is that when you realised that being part of the story could be helpful and were you ever worried your extraordinary human story could overshadow the swan’s story?

SD: Yes, the seed was planted. But it turns out, journalists can’t cover the adventure story without asking ‘why?’ And because I’m flying at the same height and altitude as the birds and suffering many of the same threats and challenges, I could talk about it with conviction from the swans’ point of view.

CC: What stories have you found change hearts and minds? 

SD: People were interested in my being the human swan. The mystery of the swans’ disappearance and the incredible stories of their journey got people engaged. But the most effective stories for inspiring real-world action were the ones of people living along the flyway, who were doing things to help. For example, the volunteers across Europe counting swans on the same days in every country – made the nomadic reindeer breeders want to help. Or the Nenets [the Samoyedic ethnic group native to arctic Russia] offering to shift what and how they hunt – in already difficult circumstances – made polish fish farmers offer to leave ponds full for longer to be safe havens for birds.

CC: What did you learn about storytelling from this campaign?

SD: Have empathy for your audience, even if they are the problem. Try to get inside their head and imagine a scenario that might make them change their mind (it’s unlikely just giving facts will do that). Allow them to be the ‘hero’ in that scenario, rather than the one in the wrong forced to change. Also, check your assumptions about who these target audiences are. For example, we hadn’t ever imagined that the hunters in remote areas shooting swans, would include nine-year-old kids. In some remote communities (where permafrost limits agriculture) hunting is the contribution of kids to family survival- they shoot on their long walk to and from school.

 

“Give everyone the chance to be the good guys in the story”

 

CC: Can you tell us a bit more about making people ‘heroes’ in your campaign narrative?

SD: I kept saying – let’s give everyone the chance to be the good guys in the story. Let’s reframe the situation. For example, with hunters in the field, I would land dramatically from the sky on the paramotor to speak to them over cups of tea and discussions about motor and navigation, a love of the arctic etc. The ones that helped fix my paramotor, showed me where to find edible mushrooms, taught me tundra survival or arranged fuel drops, later became the official ‘champions of the swan’ and are carrying on the work.

CC: You said that scientists already knew many of the things that were killing the swans – so why did your campaign focus on this question?

SD: The scientists didn’t like the idea of posing this question, as it implied that after 30+ years of research they had failed. But I insisted on making this discovery a central premise of the campaign. By letting people have ownership of the mystery, allowing them to identify their part in the situation, would make it more engaging and have longer-term impact than arriving and saying ‘we know swans are being shot here and we need you to stop’ which would have got a lot more doors and minds closed to the issue.

So, I would show images of the threats we were aware of, but the public message was that we were ‘all on a mission to find out what was going wrong for swans’. Telling this story got people’s imaginations going, made it a shareable conversation and a discussion point within communities. We invited people to share stories and photos with us. Start with creativity and questionings and speak to people as equals – their local knowledge is as important as the research data in finding solutions.

 

“Be radical in your communications because the world needs bold thinking right now.”

 

CC: This campaign was very brave. Can you offer tips for pitching radical campaign ideas to Senior Management Teams?

SD: When I had the idea for Flight of the Swans I sat on it as I thought my reasonably conservative organisation wouldn’t take it up. But they did. And probably because a few key people I broached it with were brave enough to back me first. I learned that more people are up for radical thinking than you might expect. Be radical in your communications thinking because the world needs bold thinking right now. If your own ideas aren’t exciting enough, encourage or back others’ ideas that are.

CC: Can you tell us about your next campaign – what will you do differently this time?

SD: In our next campaign, I will be flying with the Osprey and meeting people along the route for BBC and global media. Looking at how to bring the osprey back, but also looking at our planet from a birds’-eye-view. This expedition is in the runup to the next Global Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and is the first in our ‘UN 2030 Global Challenge’ series of expeditions that span the globe and keep the world interested and motivated to turn the climate and biodiversity crises around in the next 10 years.

This time I will give people smaller cameras and more practice in how to make cameras invisible – in some communities the camera became the focus. I had better interactions, learnt more, made longer-term friends when I landed with just one small camera. Also, I will tell more stories of what people had agreed to do to help.

The Real Story Behind Those #ChallengeAccepted Photos on Instagram

Protests across Turkey and a viral social media campaign in recent weeks have highlighted the rise of femicide — the murder of a woman because of her gender — and domestic violence in the country.

Pinar Gültekin, a 27-year-old Turkish woman, went missing and was found dead on July 21 in the city of Mugla. After Gültekin allegedly rejected her boyfriend Cemal Metin Avcis’ advances, he strangled her to death, burned her body in an oil barrel, and tried to hide it in the woods. The killing marked the 50th known murder of women in Turkey in 2020 alone and sparked outrage across the country. Women’s rights advocates and allies are urging the Turkish government to take action to prevent these deaths.

According to a 2009 study, 42% of Turkish women between the ages of 15 and 60 had suffered some physical or sexual violence by their husbands or partners. In 2019, 474 women were murdered, mostly by partners and relatives.

Gender-based violence is only expected to surge in 2020. Domestic violence and femicide have spiked due to lockdown measures to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Suad Abu-Dayyeh, Equality Now’s Middle East and North Africa expert, told Global Citizen via email.

Protesters demanding justice for Gültekin and other murdered women were met with violent crackdowns by police and little commitment from the government to protect women. The demonstrators called on the government to uphold the Istanbul Convention, the first international binding agreement to prevent gender-based violence introduced in 2011, which few countries have enforced.

Women also turned to social media to raise awareness for the growing gender-based violence in Turkey. They relaunched the “Challenge Accepted” campaign using #kadınaşiddetehayır and #istanbulsözleşmesiyaşatır, which roughly translates to “Say no to violence against women” (kadına şiddete hayır) and “Enforce the Istanbul Convention” (Istanbul sözleşmesi yaşatır).

Originally created in 2016, the campaign started out to increase cancer awareness and has had many iterations since. Turkish women drew from the concept and posted black-and-white photos of themselves online to signify they could be the next to appear in a newspaper as a femicide victim. Women around the world joined in to use the hashtag as a symbol of female empowerment around the world but received some criticism for drowning out Turkish women’s voices. The campaign continues to bring more global attention to the issue of femicide in Turkey.

 

 

Source: Global Citizen