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Online Activism


									 Online Strategies: Activism Gone Digital

 Phil Gutis, Director of Legislative Communications, ACLU
           Matt Howes, Internet Organizer, ACLU
   Rachel Olander, student, University of Central Florida
Alan Rosenblatt, Director of Training Programs, e-advocates

              ACLU Inaugural Membership Conference
                         June 14, 2003
     What will be the politics of
• We need to stop our opponents from
  dominating the discussions and mailing lists
  on the Web (like they do talk radio).
• Need to become active participants -- start a
  wildfire of online grassroots action in support
  of our issues.
• Why? Because online actions translate into
  offline results
                Why Go Digital?
• You can work on national, state and local issues
  even though you’re still at home in your pajamas.
• Work at all hours
• You can reach more people than your immediate
  neighbors, family and friends
• You’re online anyway (you might as well do some
  activism while you’re waiting for your eBay auction to
         What can you do online?
• Send free faxes/emails to Members of Congress on
• Write them personal, customized emails/letters based
  on Action Alerts
• Become an expert on the issues – get informed and
  see what people on both sides are talking about
  ( and
• Support the pro-freedom side of the argument on
  online forums (have a presence)
• Tell a friend (or ten) about the issues
    What can you do online? [cont’d]
• Gain new skills (take advantage of the training
  materials available online)
• Place ACLU graphics on your webpage
• Add the ACLU to your email signature
• Write articles, Op-Eds, Letters to the Editor and other
  content (submit these to mainstream online
  publications, etc.)
• Coordinate resolutions against the Patriot Act
• Tell us about your success stories and heroes
• E-volunteer for the ACLU (submit information, conduct
  analysis, build online content for local chapters and
 Be an efficient and effective activist
If you are trying to convince people to become
   active, they need to:
• know about an issue
• care about an issue
• know what actions they can take
• have the resources needed for those actions
• know that their actions will accomplish
     Craft your message to the audience’s situation
     -- don’t keep forcing more facts down people’s
  Tips and Tricks of Online Activism
• Become involved in mainstream sites, not just
  places where people are exactly like you (don’t
  waste all your time preaching to the choir).
• Consider the audience’s needs
• Write to the comfort zone of the audience (not
  everyone is as passionate or as knowledgeable
  on this particular issue as you). But try to pull
  them carefully to your issue.
• Realize that everyone listens to WIIFM (what’s
  in it for me). Make the issue real and personal
  to them, not abstract and academic.
         Tips and Tricks [cont’d]
• Get your friends to talk to their friends (take
  advantage of the six degrees of separation)
• Give different types of people different things (youth
  in California are interested in different things than the
  elderly in Florida)
• Talk about the positive, not just the negative (don’t
  always be depressing and fatalistic, try to be upbeat
  and inspiring whenever possible)
• Report on results (don't keep asking and asking
  without giving something back)
      Taking the Online to the Offline

• Vote
• Print our flyers and other online materials and
  distribute them locally (table at events, etc.)
• Call and meet with your elected
  representatives based on research you’ve
  done online
• Action Alerts – send free faxes to your
  Members of Congress
• Action Center –what you can do to protect
  civil liberties
• Activist training materials
• Press releases
• Publications/legislative documents
• Special features (such as the Patriot Act
  Resolutions initiative)

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