Take responsibility for Communications Failures

Take responsibility for Communications Failures

Communications FailuresProgressives are often frustrated that our messaging and ideas aren’t breaking through, whether it’s in a meeting with a campaign target, to members on your email list, or in the traditional media.

There are a lot of reasons this might happen, but there are a few I rarely hear mentioned: sometimes the point just isn’t relevant to the audience, is too complicated, or uses language that is difficult for the audience to understand.

If what you are trying to communicate does not actually get communicated, the best thing you can do is take responsibility for how you communicated and change it up. Ask yourself the following questions when your message fails to catch on (or, ask them beforehand and give your message a better chance to succeed!):

  • How could you be presenting what you’re trying to communicate in a more effective way?
  • What language could you be using that would make it easier for others to hear what you’re communicating?
  • Who is the best messenger given your audience?

When crafting a communications plan or just preparing for a meeting, consider the audience and what you want them to hear. You may not always get the answer you want, but you will have at least delivered the point in a way your audience could hear it — and you can deal honestly with the consequences with respect to the substance from there.

How have you re-assessed your communications to make them more effective? Share your self-correction tips in the comments!

A post by: Shaunna Thomas, NOI alumna and community member

The New Organizing Institute’s Inaugural Training

The New Organizing Institute’s Inaugural Training

Inaugural TrainingThis intense week-long online organizer training was modeled on Campaign Corps’ “Campaign Schools” – a mixture of lectures, discussions, exercises and intensive campaign simulation that took place long into every night of the training. The training produced a class of talented and trained online organizers who understand politics and people, as well as the Internet and technology.

A phenomenal success, the NOI’s first training was like no other. Learn more about the New Organizing Institute’s inaugural training:


New Organizing TraineesThe Institute selected exceptionally talented trainees from a diverse range of backgrounds, actively recruiting outside of technologist stereotypes, and we were rewarded with a fantastic and diverse class of trainees. Among our trainees were experienced programmers, recent college graduates, computer science majors, community organizers, campaign professionals, individuals with little to no technology experience, web designers, and those looking to break into the emerging field of new organizing in politics.The diversity of backgrounds and experiences resulted in a far better learning experience, as trainees gained new ideas and insights not just from NOI trainers, but each other.


CurriculumThe curriculum incorporated basic campaign training as well as Internet and technology skills. NOI trainees do not just understand how to raise money online — they understand how their online efforts fit into an overall fundraising, communications, or field strategy.

This first training was designed, not to produce IT staff for campaign, but to train campaign professionals extensive to make effective use of email, websites, voter files, and volunteer mobilization tools.during a campaign. Trainees learned the best practices of:

  • Email list building
  • Technology of mass emailing
  • Writing effective emails
  • Fundraising online
  • Website development
  • Mobilizing volunteers online
  • Online “house party” tools
  • Working with campaign staff


TrainersThe trainers at the New Organizing Institute training were almost as diverse in backgrounds and experiences as the trainees. Many of the trainers are experienced campaign professionals and experts in areas ranging from finance to field operations. Their presence ensured that NOI trainees have a solid grounding in campaign basics. The training also featured some of the biggest names in online organizing, including individuals from Moveon.org, the Kerry and Dean campaigns, the Democratic National Committee, and leading internet consulting firms. NOI trainees did not simply learn the best practices of new organizing – they learned those practices from the best in the field.

Website building and CRMs

Building Website and CRM SystemNOI trainees were also trained in the use of Constituent Relations Managers (CRMs), online tool sets that allow users to create websites, manage volunteers, organize online petitions, and send mass email blasts. Here too, NOI sought to present its trainees with a diverse selection of firms, from those catering to large campaigns and non-profit organizations, to those designed for campaigns at the state, local, and Congressional level. Representatives from a number of firms attended the training, including:

  • GetActive
  • Democracy in Action
  • SmartCampaigns
  • MediaMezcla
  • NGP

NOI trainees used the CRMs provided by the above firms to build campaign websites, giving them valuable hands-on experience with these products.

After the training

Meeting after the TrainingThe New Organizing Institute will follow up with continued support for our trainees throughout their early careers. Our goal is to create a network of experienced online organizers and technologists committed to progressive values and better organization for business and eCommerce owners. The NOI hopes to inject talented and trained online organizers and technologists into the job markets of electoral politics, advocacy and charitable organizations.

Since the training, the NOI staff has stayed in contact with our trainees. We have assisted with job searches, starting on the last day of training, when we helped the trainees prepare their resumes and organized a job fair featuring over 20 progressive organizations from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee, to the AFL-CIO, the ONE Campaign, the League of Conservation Voters and ATKerney eCommerce business organizing: https://www.atkearney.com/retail/organizational-performance

We have also provided on-the-job advice, and facilitated communication between the trainees themselves. NOI trainees were given contact info for the various trainers so that they can stay in touch and ask for advice on issues they deal with every day.

Last, but certainly not least, because the learning experience at the training was made that much stronger because the trainees could learn from each other, the NOI has helped trainees stay in touch. Devoted to building a network of professional online organizers, the New Organizing Institute wants to ensure that the sharing of knowledge and ideas between trainees continues well into their careers.…