Latest updates from the Veracity team

Veracity Media & The Franklin Project

February 24, 2015


Studies show the millennial generation is already one of the most service oriented and socially minded generations ever. In support of institutionalizing this civic spirit for generations to come is the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project. The Franklin Project counts on the support of service organizations and luminaries from around the country in its effort to make a national service year a cultural expectation and common opportunity in America.

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Veracity Media recently had the privilege of teaming up with the Aspen Institute and the Franklin Project team to deliver the initiative a new, state-of-the-art website on NationBuilder.

The gorgeously designed Franklin Project site features big, visible “call-to-action” style content on the homepage, as well as several dynamic featured content displays and a completely custom Twitter feed. The site boasts interactive features like a custom video page and endorsement form for members of the military who want to pledge their support for the initiative.

Veracity is proud to have worked with this innovative team to deliver a website that will help them spread the word, as well as the ideals of national service, across the country. We’re firm believers in civic duty, and we also believe that this project will help the Aspen Institute ingrain a civic spirit that can engage American society for years to come.

Like what you see? Make sure to check out more of our work, and use the form below to be in touch!


Email Strategy: Why The Sky Isn’t Falling and Your List Deserves Respect

January 29, 2015


How’d your last email do? What was your click-through rate? How many people opened it or unsubscribed? Most importantly, are you actually tracking any of those numbers? And for what goals?

Most email marketing software is going to allow you to track this information fairly effortlessly, but these aren’t the only metrics to keep track of. If your email list is large enough to meaningfully segment, are you A/B testing your content and calls-to-action? What about your landing pages?

Email marketing in 2015 is only going to get harder as more campaigns, non-profits, and retailers get better at capturing the average person’s attention. So this begs this question: How are you going to stand out?

 

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Answer: You won’t

Not at first, anyway. There’s no one email that’s going to be a panacea to all of your problems. No, that doesn’t mean your hard work is entering a black hole of spam or crammed inboxes.

Building, nurturing, and getting results from your email list is going to take time, effort, and more than a little bit of patience. No matter how powerful the writing is, without an easy to access landing page, and a call-to-action (CTA) that makes it extremely clear what you’re asking of your list, your results will continuously disappoint you. Even if you write the best email that has ever been written, some of your audience will have had a bad day at work and won’t want to read it. Quality is important, but so is an insistence on refining your process.

To find success, you must create a sense of urgency and compel your organization’s members to actually click through to your website and take action.

 

Don’t stop trying

Just because your emails aren't successful the first time around doesn't mean they're doomed. Barack Obama’s reelection campaign famously used “Hey,” as a subject line, which turned out to be the most widely opened email they ever sent. More importantly, of so many incredibly strong messages, “Hey,” stood out the most. But that doesn’t mean that will work for you, or even that would work for them again - the point is finding a unique way to capture your audience’s attention.

Being persistent and staying dedicated to an email campaign calendar will yield results and give you more insights from your members as a whole.

Varying the blasts to your members aids in this. Just asking for money won’t show you what your members’ interests, passions, or willingness to take action are. Get insights about who your audience really is, and why they stick by your organization by tracking the effectiveness of your asks -- whether they are to sign petitions, amplify messages, get in touch with a member of congress, or RSVP for a Twitter townhall or even a real-life event.

 

But don’t try too hard

Give your organization’s members a break. If you’re trying to fundraise, be direct. Don’t tell them that the sky is falling, or that your opponents have struck a CRITICAL BLOW. Most importantly: Don’t lie to raise money.

Treating your organization’s members with respect is important. Use email to communicate with them, and not just serve as another outlet of a press release.

 

Make your takeaways mean something

A powerful email program takes more than time and dedication. A website needs landing pages, petitions, and a database to keep all of your members’ actions organized.

Segmentation and testing have come to be more and more important as email programs reach maturity. Testing a subject line is one thing, but the real prize comes from knowing what kinds of donation asks really work, what landing page formats work, how different petition asks engage your members, and much, much more.

Keeping track of it all in a backend CRM is more important than ever, too. Being able to easily tease out who-took-what-action-where, and what outcomes it created is what it means to organize data.

Even if your audience is small, just remember that they are listening!

When an email is opened, a linked is clicked, and an action is taken, it means you have an audience that supports your message. It may be small to start, but this core group has taken time out of their day to support your work. They want to hear from your organization, and their actions are in support of your cause and mission.

The growth and engagement of your list means that your impact, influence, and ability to drive action will only improve over time.

Interested in hearing more about how Veracity Media can improve your organization’s reach? Fill out the form below, and one of our digital strategists will be in touch!


#WomenLead

January 27, 2015


“Have you thought about running for office?”

On Saturday, January 24th, Veracity Media partnered with She Should Run, New Leaders Council - New Jersey and Rising Stars to create the first #WomenLead workshop at Seton Hall University. The free training was designed to give women the practical tools and skills needed to take the first step in public life -- whether as policy makers or elected officials.

Despite taking place after a snowstorm, the room filled up quickly. Councilwoman Lona Pangia from Delran Township drove two hours to attend. Dr. Chris Pernell gave an inspiring opening statement about her call to public service, and answered questions from young women involved with student government at Seton Hall University who were in attendance. 

“Have you thought about running for office?” Nearly all the women in the room had.

Jason Springer, a messaging expert who has helped elect over one hundred people to public office, many of them women, gave a comprehensive messaging and press workshop. This is an area of challenge that we’ve identified through our work with candidates, especially younger or first-time ones, across the country. Jason spoke a lot about the importance of telling your story, and doing so the right way. For example, he explained that sometimes having another validator explain how an elected official helped them is a better strategy than having the elected official speak for themselves. 

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Erin Loos Cutraro, the executive director of She Should Run, which advances women and girls in public leadership, gave an interactive talk about some of the latest research that sheds light on challenges and opportunities for women running for office. She detailed the often overlooked strengths that women have while running -- from their fundraising capacity to their effectiveness in reaching across the aisle. When voters see women standing up for themselves, they believe that women will stand up for voters, too. 

Last but not least, Naomi Rothwell from Veracity Media spoke about digital strategy and showcased several women Veracity has worked with who successfully have run for office. Using a digital first approach -- thinking about the impact of your website, branding and messaging -- can help inform the rest of your campaign. When you’re just getting started, a small amount spent on digital advertising can have a ripple effect in spreading the word and building momentum towards larger media and organizing goals.

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As participants gathered to leave, Constantina Meis of the Women's Caucus at Young Democrats of America and the main organizer of the event, asked them how they felt. Common answers: “inspired,” “productive,” and “ready.” She encouraged everyone to stay in touch and inspire each other. With that, the first #WomenLead participants headed back out.

Stay tuned for the next #WomenLead event!


Big Social Media Trends in 2015

January 15, 2015


It's a brand new year, and marketers, writers, and anyone with a Twitter account are all working out what comes next. Storytelling, timeliness, data, and big-picture planning are all going to be huge pieces of the 2015 social media pie. Here’s why:

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Storytelling

Starting in January 2015, Facebook will be rolling out an algorithm change on their News Feed. While the goal of the Feed has always been to show people what they want to see -- including stories from businesses and nonprofits -- Facebook surveyed hundreds of thousands of people to find out what may have seemed obvious: people want to hear more from their friends, not from businesses.

What does this mean for your organization?

It’s no secret that Facebook is making it harder for content creators, but that’s because so much of what’s written is intended for billboards, not engagement. The algorithm change means marketers have been scrambling to create strategies to save their pages.

While most people think they’re only path forward is to drop money on Facebook ads, or leave the site altogether, others are asking the question, “What can I do to be a better writer?” While the answer sounds complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Tell stories. Collect consumer generated content. Build relationships. Take advantage of the fact that social media is the first ever two-way communication platform for marketers.

Timeliness

Organizations, brands, and campaigns put a lot of emphasis on making sure pages are up to date and active. While it’s important to stay active, the timeliness and meaningfulness of your posts is more important than posting for the sake of posting. Is there urgency? Is there anything that people should consider taking action on NOW? Or, would you, the writer, even care if you saw the post in your newsfeed?

Being timely with content means knowing what to write when. Current events are current now, and ignored later. One great example of this is Oreo’s 2013 Superbowl Tweet, which was posted shortly after the power went out at the New Orleans Superdome. It’s gone down in history as one of the best Tweets of all time. Less prolific examples might revolve around emergency response or pushing your organization’s mission when it becomes relevant in the news.

Using Data to Improve Content

Do you create great content for people to like/share/favorite/retweet? Or do you want them to click through to your website? Do the number of likes and shares a post get define success, or the number of email signups?

These are all important, but what’s going to matter more as people create content more intelligently is how this information is collected and analyzed. Do you have your social media connected to a database? Are you collecting audience information? Are you split testing your work? Do you have remarketing code on your website? These are all questions that content creators will not be able to ignore in 2015.

The Bigger Picture

In our earlier post about social media strategy, we outlined the importance of it tying into an organization's overall mission, as well as its digital strategy. Social media cannot exist in a vacuum for it to succeed. Unique content production (as opposed to simple regurgitations of press releases), storytelling, and data have to all be connected to the organization as a whole.

What does it all mean?

2015 is going to be a great year for storytelling. At Veracity Media, we specialize in making sure content moves in meaningful, targeted ways to grow your organization both on and offline.

If you’d like to hear more about how we can help your organization, fill out for the form below. One of our digital strategists will be in touch!


Rootscamp14

December 16, 2014


This past weekend, over 2,000 people attended the seventh annual Rootscamp in Washington, D.C. The event has grown into one of the largest hubs of new ideas in politics and digital activism.

 

There's a reason why the entire Veracity team was at Rootscamp! Unlike most conferences, Rootscamp participants are encouraged to design sessions and actually decide the program. This leads to a unique cross pollination of ideas and a rare opportunity for a conversation between, for example, a staffer from small nonprofit with a former presidential digital director. As people of all stripes gather in the behemoth halls of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the lines between insiders and outsiders blur, and there exists an opportunity for honest discussion of what worked, what didn’t, and how we grow stronger to enact change we believe in.

Veracity Media partner and South Orange Mayor Alex Torpey, already in D.C. after a busy week at POLITICO's Lessons from Leaders event and elsewhere, had the opportunity to lead a lively session on tech in government which generated tremendous buzz on Twitter (a few excerpts below) with Robin Alberts-Marigza from NationBuilder. At the panel, participants engaged in a constructive conversation around how to make technology work better in government, and as Alex put it, why it's important for people who care about positive technology to "embed" themselves in government through elected office to help get it done.

RootsCamp has something for everyone, and so Seth Maloney, Veracity's Digital Ads Lead, got to chat with act.tv about trends in data, Jeff Apel, Veracity's Lead Designer participated in a session on design in politics and Partner Ryan Morgan connected with NGP VAN about their new API and feature set. Other sessions we enjoyed included an all-female panel on the future of digital communication with Amanda Litman (formerly of Charlie Crist’s campaign), Jess Livoti-MoralesNicole Titus (Ready for Hillary), Lauren Miller (Elizabeth Warren’s digital director) and other rock stars.

The best part of Rootscamp is the chance to reconnect with old friends, in addition to making new ones. From Battleground Texas to climate activists to Obama campaign alums, we left inspired by new ideas and energy as we head into a new year.

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Check out what people were talking about at #roots14! Tweet at @VeracityMedia: What stuck out to you as a game-changing idea -- and what would you like to see next year? We love opportunities to go out and hear different people's perspectives on how to empower ourselves to make change, and we hope to see you out at conferences across the country as we find ways to work together for a better future!


This Week at Veracity: Millennial Action Project and Politico’s What Works Summit

December 06, 2014


This week, partner and mayor Alex Torpey was in DC for the Millennial Action Project Summit, and Politico’s What Works summit, discussing how cities are incubators for civic innovation.

The Millennial Action Project (MAP) event, held on Capitol Hill, was co-hosted by Nexus, a community of young philanthropists working to fund projects and organizations that will address next generation issues. The day included talks from the two youngest members of Congress, Representative Tulsi Gabbard and Representative Aaron Shock, founding members of the bipartisan Future Caucus, and featured a range of other dynamic and inspiring speakers, from bipartisan congressional representatives, Senator Ted Cruz, human rights activists and more.

During the closing plenary session, Alex sat on a panel with other millennial leaders to discuss what it takes to inspire new generations to participate in our democratic system. Alex’s work on the Village President for a Day program in South Orange was discussed as a way to create a “trigger moment” in the hopes of motivating young people to get more active in their communities.

Award winning actress and renowned activist, Ashley Judd, who keynoted the closing plenary, also took note of the all-star panel of millennial leaders! 

At the Politico What Works summit, over a dozen mayors and other local leaders from across the nation discussed some of the very complex issues facing local communities, as well as the opportunities and advancements that are being made. Alex’s panel focused on civic innovation and technology, and while not every city wants or needs to be the next Silicon Valley, they all have something to gain from the ideas and tools coming out of the tech movement – from innovative public/private partnerships to installing gigabit internet that allows greater connectivity across the board, from businesses to consumers to government.

 

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Alex spoke about how technology can be used by citizens to not only file complaints, but to create an open and transparent process that allows results to not only be delivered, but measured publicly with accountability institutionalized into the executive branch of government.

Along with his fellow panelists - Mayor Andy Berke of Chattanooga, TN, Mayor Helene Schneider of Santa Barbara and Brenna Berman, CIO of Chicago - he discussed the incredible innovation capacity at the local level. However, he made a point to note that that only goes so far if the federal government doesn’t step up to ensure affordable broadband internet access is available for every American and to preserve net neutrality.

Both events had a focus on the need for innovation and change - and that although there is partisan gridlock at the national level, there are incredible things happening in state and local governments. While the Millennial Action Project Summit focused more on how young people can get more involved in the communities, and how millennials can find a stronger way forward to tackle today’s issues, the Politico summit had a focus on highlighting the success stories of mayors and local leaders of all ages and political persuasions across the country - a narrative that we all agree deserves more attention.

 


Working on the Orman for U.S. Senate Campaign

December 04, 2014


The political world was turned upside down late this summer when Kansas’s U.S. Senate seat turned competitive. Greg Orman, a local businessman, running as an independent, bucked the two-party system and ran a positive, issue-based campaign challenging the status-quo. What was considered to be a cakewalk for a strong incumbent turned into one of the most closely watched races in the country.

Veracity was a part of the campaign from the very beginning. As a part of the kick-off for Greg’s campaign, we built a state-of-the-art, mobile responsive website that was called “strong," and "well-designed,” by the NRSC.  We drove the digital strategy on social media and email for the campaign, and the campaign’s Facebook growth was noted in the Kansas City Star.

We also expanded the universe of voters for the campaign. Most political campaigns have pre-existing party infrastructure that can provide a significant amount of information for the district or state the candidate is running in. Orman’s independent campaign did not enter the race with that advantage. By running highly targeted digital ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Adwords, Veracity was able to define a brand new audience, pulling in Independents, Democrats, and Republicans alike who weren’t able to find a home in the traditional two-party system.

Though Senator Roberts may have won his reelection, Greg didn’t lose. Getting over 40% of the vote as an independent in a state that has elected only Republicans to the Senate since 1932 is no small feat. Our work to activate and engage these voters who, before now, didn’t have a candidate or movement to attach themselves to, went a long way towards changing our political system for the better.


Getting the Best Results From Social Media

December 02, 2014


Your organization may have a social media presence, but do you have a strategy behind that presence? At Veracity Media, we work to create effective social strategies for our clients because we know that the best way to create a powerful social media message is not just to be genuine, but to have a coherent strategy behind your efforts. A social media strategy can’t live on its own, it has to be an active component of your organization’s overall message. We’ll sit down with you to drill down your goals and refine your message.

Do Your Homework (Research!)

Many brands that start posting to Facebook and Twitter do it without knowing who their core audience is. They know who they want to talk to, but they don’t always know who is listening. This is where research comes into play -- finding out which messages and pages are attracting an audience receptive to your organization’s mission.

Knowing where to start is the first step. Developing content for a small audience seems tedious, and it takes a great deal of time to gain results. In this regard, what works on Facebook may not work on Twitter, forcing platform-specific content which may mean targeting existing hashtags to carve out a niche on Twitter, or creating advertisements that draw new people to your Facebook page. These types of smaller-scale strategies are incredibly important, and need scalable big-picture thinking in order to get results that stick.

Develop your digital strategy

Many organizations and brands post to Facebook and Twitter for the sheer purpose of generating new sales, creating new leads, and growing their emails lists, but moving the ball forward on these goals isn’t always easy.

One strategy discussed in Micah L. Sifry’s book The Big Disconnect: Why The Internet Hasn’t Transformed Politics (Yet) is that social media can be most effectively used to ‘soften up’ an audience, making them more receptive to being contacted on other fronts, such as by phone or email.

A new audience might see that the organization is active in their state or city, or that they are advocating for laws and policies that they agree with on Facebook and Twitter. They might add their name to petitions served to them, but in order to actually volunteer or donate, they might need a more targeted email, a personalized Tweet, a phone call, or some other method of interaction.

This idea of using social media to soften up an audience also means data needs to be consolidated and understood.

Analyze Your Results

Creating a plan and taking action is one piece of the puzzle, and analyzing the results is the next. In order to reach a goal, individuals are going to likely be entering a “sales funnel,” or a “ladder of engagement.”

This can appear as a weekly report, saved filters, easily accessible tags and lists that can be followed up with, all depending on what the goal is.

Grow

Keep doing what is effective and don’t be afraid to be creative and take risks. Would it make sense to do a dynamic push around one subject tied to your mission over another subject? Why not both? A gut check is if you are excited about your message -- your audience will be, too.

Tying It Together

Effective social media campaigns have great content, great results, and teach unique lessons on how to capitalize on its success in the future. These campaigns also tie into an organization’s overall digital strategy, and its overall mission. On a fundamental level, if the organization’s mission doesn’t match up with what appears on social media, then there’s been a failure to communicate.

This failure can take many forms, from having bright, coordinated, and exciting content falling into a vacuum and being ignored, or the wrong audience being engaged, creating negative responses that then create a PR nightmare.

The importance of reaching the right people means a higher likelihood of future action on their part, be it votes, volunteering, donors & sales, email signups, website visits, and event RSVPs. The benefits of a coordinated campaign that reach the correct audience are endless.

Veracity Media’s social media work pulls these threads together. There are many different ways to communicate a message on Facebook and Twitter, but few ways to communicate it well. Keeping a balance of all the different forces, from audience makeup to the mission of an organization, and everything in between, a message is always carefully crafted before it’s released.

If you’d like to discuss with one of our digital strategists, fill out the form below, and we’ll be in touch!


Re-Electing the Congresswoman from California's 6th district

November 11, 2014


Congresswoman Doris Matsui -- one of California’s most well-liked elected officials -- reached out to Veracity for a new look for her re-election campaign. To start, we designed the campaign a new logo that captured Doris’s engaging, yet hard-working, personality.

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In conjunction with the logo, we launched a sleek, interactive, and mobile-responsive website for the Congresswoman from California’s 6th Congressional district.

The new website is well organized and makes it easier for constituents to stay connected and find important information, including local events, voter registration information, and campaign updates. More importantly, the website and logo we designed allows Doris to communicate with her constituents in a personal, yet effective, way. Veracity is also taking point on digital strategy for Doris, crafting content, and making use of the Congresswoman’s new website.

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We’re proud to be working the Congresswoman so she can better serve the people of California-06.

If you are interested in learning more about what Veracity’s unique approach can offer you, get in touch with us below.

 


Happy Election Day - Find your polling place

November 04, 2014


Today is election day across the country. Please get out and vote! Use the tool below to find your polling location and share with your friends! 


Let Veracity help you engage, activate, inform, and inspire your community.

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