Get Shouty

Prompting change
June 19, 2007, 11:56 am
Filed under: Digital Strategy


I’ve got a brief I’m very excited about- it’s for an well established environmental group here in Australia and they’re trying to prompt people to write 50,000 letters to Members of Parliament before the next election- which will be in the next few months.

They, of course only have a tiny amount of cashola- but heaps of cred and a compelling message.

I’m a big fan of online activism, but in our click through age it’s easier to get friends on a MySpace page than to get a younger and passionate audience to put something in the post.

So how can I prompt a postage stamp? It’s letters in the mail that is political currency here.

If I had the dosh I’d do something like the Take Note campaign which allows you to write your message online, which then gets sent by mail- but I can’t afford to pay for the stamps or the envelopes.

Care’s ‘I am Powerful’ creates an incredible emotional reaction and I love the Power Circle as a mind map of support- but I need letters…..

Any ideas?


6 Comments so far
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Sounds like a cool project.

If it’s an enviro group, why should the campaign be slaughtering trees to achieve an environmental outcome? Further to this – your point on friending people/interacting online instead of penning a letter is so, so true… so why not create a simple website so we can all jump on, write a quick letter and then get on with doing what young people do… which doesn’t include writing letters 🙂

The letters could be delivered electronically to to the right thing by the environment.

If the idea is compelling you’ll also get some viral and strong traffic, which will only help an activism cause.

The ‘I am Powerful campaign’ is quite effective, it’d be cool to use a visualisation to graphically represent how many letters have been written vs the 50,000 target… hmmm…

Comment by Andy Howard

Thanks for your thoughts Andy.
It really would be lovely if we could re-write our brief to deliver what we think should be the outputs versus what our clients ask us to deliver. Unfortunately that is so rarely the case, and it is a dangerous position indeed to claim that you know the client’s KPIs better than they do themselves.
I have worked out a technical solution that will allow us to deliver a letter from the web. Again it is a sorry state of affairs that an MP takes more note of a piece of snail mail over an email- but it is true.
I would like to think that a piece of paper that is used to create climate change is not slaughtered in vain.

Pieces of paper are important- your vote slip is one that I can think of that is vital. Let’s also remember that using plantation timber creates an impetus to plant forests, a good thing I’m sure you agree.

Comment by katiechatfield

Hi Katie,

have just met your blog (because i really like the name, akshully) so I would make these recommendations for starters.

a. do what most NGOs don’t – i.e. look at how other people are doing things successfully so that your NGO briefer can be doing it nowish instead of later. Best example would be GetUp! They do use a digital portal to direct non-form letters to the politicians most directly responsible as well as to those most likely to strategically tip in the desired direction. Also, they can collate all digi-letters into one big offline print out and deliver for photo op and maximum impact. Also has advantage of same letter reaching multiple recipients rather than having single use and then being shredded. This is only helpful for arguing your NGO into a more broadminded position.
2. If you’re stuck with the brief as is, and it has to be postal, then one of the best approaches would likely be simply spelling it out in terms people understand (like a Mastercard ad but in reverse).
mobile phone bill for the month: $80
movie ticket: $12
train fare : $4.50
postage paid envelope: $1
kind of lame….hmm. But the message just needs to be concise and clear – envelopes are cheap, POs are everywhere, duh!

No…2nd thoughts – this NGO is asking you to spell out how they can run a pretty lame campaign. very hypocritical. The carbon emissions of 10 million emails would be less than for 100000 individually printed, posted, and delivered letters. I call hypocrisy. And re comment – dig yr positivity, but the majority of eco-friendly paper is recycled, not plantation. The thing that makes way for more forest plantations is (logging of state forest + MIS tax dodge). Regardless of degraded ecosystems, carbon stored in trees used for paper is released an average 2 -3 years after the production of the paper. There’s no ecological support for logging unless it’s displacing introduced monocultures to replace with biodiverse natives. 🙂

Comment by typingisnotactivism

Wow. First, thanks for sharing the I am Powerful campaign. Damn. That blew me away. Sadly, it’s CARE. But hey. 😉

Christ, Shouty. Can’t you ask EASY questions for once? How about “How do we get people involved politically again?” That would be EASY in comparison. 😉

Writing a letter in todays world carries a crazy amount of weight. Getting a written letter from someone actually gets me to stop and notice.

Sort of insane.

But I wonder if you can attack that. This idea of weight.

I would look at what Greenpeace and PETA do. How they allow people to download kits.

Maybe you could push on local letter writing parties? A friend once had one at her birthday party. There was a table in the corner and we had all kinds of letters there downloaded and ready to be signed and mailed. She’s an activist type.

Okay. I’m off to read blogs that don’t make me think now. 😉

Comment by Sean Howard

Katie, are there events where postcards can be handed out? Recipient can then write in text and quickly mail it? Interesting gnarly situation.

Comment by C. B. Whittemore

Sean: you go to the best parties….

C.B.-that’s brilliant!!

There are a number of “earth concert” type music events over the next six months

I’ll put that straight on the plan- cheers

Comment by katiechatfield

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