Friday, November 13, 2009

Six Months Ago Today

Dear Reader,

Six months ago today, Will Urquhart and I sat in my basement and signed the paperwork to officially create Sum of Change Productions, LLC. With nothing but a camera and a couple laptops, we set out to use our respective political organizing and documentary production experiences to build a multimedia company that explains and discusses the most relevant issues of society in a simple yet substantial way. Thanks to you, our first six months have yielded over 125 independently produced videos that have been viewed over 50,000 times collectively. On this anniversary we would like to thank you for helping us reach these milestones.

Though I am very appreciateve for the support, I would like to ask for your continued help in order to grow our email list. Please send a message to 10 friends who you think would appreciate our material and ask them to join our email list.

I'm proud that our videos have been featured on NPR, The Nation, Daily Kos, and The Huffington Post, but we are working to directly share our films with our viewers. It is through these personal connections that we are able to learn about important ideas and movements and make them more accessible. We want to expand the scope, depth, and influence of our coverage and your grassroots support will help us to do so.

We would like you to send this message to 10 socially conscious friends and ask them to join our email list. Tell them why you follow us and why they should too.

By doing so, you will help us reach our goals for the next six months of tripling our email list and breaking 150,000 views. With your continued support, we plan on increasing our output and effectiveness, expanding our network of contributing editors and eventually launching a user generated blog, so that people all over the world can share their own stories.

Please send this to 10 friends and ask them to join our email list. You'll not only be helping us grow, but you'll be building a grassroots network that can affect real change in America.

Thanks again for your continued support. I am proud and honored to have you with us.

Mitch's Signature

Mitch Malasky
Managing Partner - Sum of Change

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Training Tuesday with the DFA: The Art of Email Engagement

"Successful emails will build your online community, increase activism, and raise you money. It is also the fastest most accessible way to send your message out to supporters... Compared to the other online strategies, email is by far the most effective strategy to inspire action and raise money."
-from Democracy for America's Campaign Academy Training Manual

The Art of Email Engagement.: In the last five or ten years, email has exploded as a campaign strategy and, without question, Democracy for America (DFA) has led the way on running effective email programs. We were fortunate enough to get to sit in on a DFA Campaign Academy training on the art of email engagement. Today, we bring you the top five email Do's and Don'ts according to Matt Blizek:

Do's Part 1:

Do's Part 2:

For those of you wondering about Zephyr Teachout's other best practices and tips for emails we turn to page 139 of the training manual (You don't have a training manual? Well you'll have to attend a training next year):

Zephyr Teachout's Tips and Best Practices for Emails
• Draft drunk, edit sober.
• Aim for the amazing. Shoot for the moon, and if some fall flat, so be it.
• Tell a story! Each email is a short story with a moral.
• Think in images! Plunge people into a world. Make your message visceral.
• Read your emails out loud to someone before sending them. Reading out loud will force the cadence.
• Experiment! Be willing to try new stuff and fail. It's a relationship - push the limits.
• Involve a short-term narrative. i.e., a 5 email series in which something from the last email is always engaged - this is a serial publication, and a connection from one email to the next - storytelling over time - is one of your strongest suits for establishing a connection.
• Imagine yourself writing TO someone at all times. Never address a crowd - address a member of the crowd. If you wouldn't send this email to a friend, why not?
• Length doesn't matter - should fit the purpose of the email. That said, when in doubt, be very short.
• Use short punchy paragraphs.
• Link early and often. The same link over and over. In this way it is like a poem or song with a refrain.
• Write for a 7th grade reading level - people read fast online. It will improve your writing, making you less abstract, more concrete, and with fewer clauses.

And last, but certainly not least, the Don'ts:

That's all for this week. Next week we'll have a second round of videos from the Art of Email Engagement, just check back at the Sum of Change Training Tuesday web page at 6:00pm next Tuesday! Oh, and speaking of emails, you can always sign up to receive email updates from Sum of Change!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Virginia Residents Making Health Care Personal on Capitol Hill

On Wednesday, just days before the House passed historic health care legislation, I tagged along with the Virginia Organizing Project (VOP) and residents from all over Virginia as they visited Capitol Hill to share their personal health care stories with their Senators and Representatives. You can read more about it in our written report from the day, but today we present you with our video coverage:

The emphasis of this trip was to have Virginia residents share their personal stories with Congress. So what would our coverage be without those personal stories?

Matt's Story:

Linda's Story:

Donna's Story:

The Virginia Organizing Project is still calling on folks to contact their legislatures. And while not everyone can drive to DC like Virginia residents can, you can still pick up a phone or write a letter.

Visit Sum of Change for more coverage, and don't forget to check back tomorrow for Training Tuesday with the DFA where Matt Blizek will bring us tips on running a successful email program!

J Street Conference Video Wrap Up

To supplement our earlier post about the J Street Conference, here is a video wrap up of this year's conference created by Found Object Films for the folks a J Street. I was privileged to have a very, very small hand in working on it (though in no way do I take credit for it) and was really struck by the strength and logic of their organization and mission. Please click on the links above (or following) to get more info (and video) from the J Street Conference and Found Object Films.