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DemocracyFest a Success

Hi, All! I got home from Dfest at 12:30 AM and slept until 10 AM. I feel almost human once again. Now trying to find all the press mentions and follow up with Letters to the Editor. let me know of DemocracyFest mentions. Also answering emails and phone calls and trying to reach out to the volunteers/entertainers/speakers who donated their time to our cause.

First off, I should remember to thank Governor Dean for his presence within a very busy week. If it wasn't for him, we would have had no reason to have this event. He inspired us all to reach out and fundamentally change our own government. We now realize that in order to achieve that we must be informed--not just about issues but about the mechanisms of government and campaigns.

If it wasn't for the speakers/trainers, we would not have been informed/educated, not for the volunteers we would not have remained on schedule. The entertainers inspired and energized us through the two full days of activities. Please make sure that you thank each of them because in many situations it was financially difficult for them to attend; they volunteered their time and resources in the same manner in which the Cofounders of My Vote is My Voice did. We could not have done it without them or all of you and I wanted to personally thank those that helped make it such a success.

I admit it was tough organizing such an event on the fly. Of course, it wasn't intended to happen that way but we showed that we are so determined that no matter what you throw in our way we will persevere. I'm sure that didn't make those outside the progressive groups happy and that thought alone thrills me. : )

Somehow everything seemed to workout and I give that credit to the many individuals who stepped up and asked what they could do. Like Lynn and Rich who were totally there for us on Saturday and Sunday morning when I came down and found only a man named Mark there who was not even signed up to be a volunteer. Mark never even told me that he was a friend of one of our fabulous entertainers, Cecilia St. King (who bunked with me Saturday night...lucky for me because that was the only time I got to see her perform). Mark asked what he could do--I put him behind the registration desk expecting that he would be relieved in two hours...I found him still working the desk near the end of the day. Cherie and Harry for selling the We The People book to help benefit My Vote is My Voice ($15/book, $5 goes to MViMV). Nan and Maria (gosh, forgive me if I'm mixing up names) handled the stage for me on Sunday so efficiently that I missed nearly all of the performers/speakers while I assisted the press and helped Jessica make arrangements for Gov. Dean. People like this deserve to be recognized.

A special shout has to go out to a few individuals. Without Ralph Miller of Latinos for America, I would have gone insane! Not only did he protect my sanity but he worked us through event planning items that Jessica and I were clueless on. He brought Root camp to Dfest. Furthermore, he landed the band the Flying Other Brothers (FOB) for Dfest. In the final days, he found us a stage manager who volunteered his time and used his frequent flier miles to fly out. The stage manager found our sound guy/equipment. FOB paid for travel expenses for 12 people (band and crew) to fly out from the Bay Area (Cali), let the stage manager Lee bunk with them, and then they paid for our sound equipment. Too bad for you who didn't get to dance with us because FOB totally jammed.

I felt that I let a few of the entertainers down because the crowd was so politically involved that most of them were in training sessions and, therefore, there was often only about 50 individuals to listen to the entertainers/speakers. For instance the crowd of 300+ that sat riveted listening to Trippi, mostly disbanded immediately afterwards which left a fabulous singer/entertainer/activist like Stephan Smith performing to a very sparse audience.

In case you hadn’t learned, Christy of the DFA Book Club was responsible for securing Trippi and finding a bookstore to provide the books to sell at the event for autographing. Christy helped in many other ways; much as June did. As the event neared, both of them were continuously helping either Jessica or myself.

I thought I was going to take the month of August to regroup at work and with family & friends. Besides the fact that all the way through the planning I kept wondering how I got dragged into this and asserting to myself that I would never do it again. But then I got to watch the crowd as the Gov spoke and hear from all of you that attended the event. I met so many wonderful people and heard that they really derived a lot of benefit from it. It seems as though our mission was accomplished. A private mission of mine had been to be able to bring closure to those of us who were in the Dean campaign. I know that I needed closure; I still carried the hurt feelings from the very moment that my husband called me to break the news as I was transferring planes on the way back from the Wisconsin primary. I feel stronger now and ready to move on to truly unite.

Al will make a pol available to select a location for next year's event so that you can each say, "My Vote is My Voice." *smile* Don't go making any travel arrangements yet. You know our luck with keeping a venue. haha.

Thanks again for your support.

Posted by Charlene Johnston on July 26, 2004 at 04:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Media Effective As Your Message

In my role as Spokesperson at My Vote is My Voice, I have been researching press issues. My notes may benefit some of you, so I've copied them into this posting. The majority of this material is from my notes from a seminar that I took at the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention this past May. Scott Ferson of the Liberty Square Group was the presenter on Media Mastery (Spin or Policy).

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief.

Media Only as Effective as Your Message
Make sure you know what and why you’re doing what you’re doing. If there’s a problem, be prepared to provide the solution. Be prepared: know what you want to say and how you’ll say it.

Congressman Markey’s desk was moved out into the hallway because he was taking a stand on an issue. His message was: “You can tell me where to sit, you can’t tell me where to stand.”

People are Busy
Hard to focus on a whole array of candidates, particularly when w/in same party.
The result is the message is dummed down to lowest common denominator.

Effect of Spin
Positive spin brings votes in.
Negative spin works more effectively. When behind in polls, campaigns do negative spins. It represses votes.

Rules for Dealing with Reporters
· First rule, don’t lie to the media.
· Remember that you’re always on the record with a reporter. Any conversation you have with a reporter you might read in the newspaper the next day.
· Form relationship with reporter. Talk to them: Your job is to pitch the story; reach an agreement on how to do that.
· When you’re creating news, others have to react to it. Use media to convey news first.
· You don’t always have to answer every question that is asked.
· Thank them for their question. Define the issue and don’t let them define you. Find commonality within the Party. Keep it simple. “Nobody keeps it simpler than GWB. He can’t make it more complex but he can keep it simple.”
· Remember that the Editor writes the headlines—not the reporter.
· Calculate your risk, could let another reporter scoop the story if they promise to run the real story. If asking a question that is out of place with topic, just say “that’s a misplaced question.”
· Follow up with reporter first if misquoted. Then go to editor if necessary but only if it’s worth sacrificing your report with the reporter. Corrections reported in the media do not make up for the misquote. Multiple hits on the internet, not printed in same location as original article, etc.
· Therefore, ask the reporter to read back the quote to you to make sure they’ve got it correctly.

Protect the Candidate
Never let the candidate stand alone—whether it’s interacting with media or holding sign, etc. Discuss ideas with somebody before talking to the media.

What do you do when a reporter says, “I’m on deadline I need to speak to the candidate.” Make sure you have got details about the questions/topics before let candidate talk. Make elected officials accessible but don’t let it happen cold.
Frame candidate with podium, don’t let him/her stand out there unboxed; can be perceived as wild or over the top otherwise.

If problem arises, manage your boss. Develop a plan and don’t give additional info out to a reporter, wait to answer questions.

Press sect’y: If reporter asks you a question that you’ve been blindsided on. Find out where, when, who? Say that you’ll immediately get back to them. “When I know rest of story, you’ll be first to know.” If they are reluctant to give information from their story, you can try, “Your candidate is a busy person—help me out: where, when, who.”

Press Definitions

1. "On the record" -- Can be used in print, and may be attributed to you
2. "On background" -- Not to be attributed to you by name. The story itself might refer to you as a "source" from the campaign.
3. "Deep background" -- Not to be attributed to you, even as an anonymous source--should be avoided.
4. "Off the record" -- Cannot be used in a story.

AGAIN, remember that you’re always on the record with a reporter, despite definitions you use to describe information you are providing.

Posted by Jessica Falker on July 14, 2004 at 01:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Donation Request

Did you know that My Vote is My Voice has no paid staff?   In fact most of the expenses incurred are absorbed by our volunteers.

Unfortunately, expenses still occur that require reimbursement so we hope that you will consider supporting our operating expenses via a donation to My Vote is My Voice Corp. 

Please note:  Contributions to My Vote is My Voice Corp. are not tax deductable.

Thank you for your generosity,

Al, Jessica, Charlene

Posted by Charlene Johnston on July 8, 2004 at 08:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pledge of Ballot Integrity

TrueMajority has launched another phase of their "Computer Ate My Vote" campaign. Gov. Dean's DFA is one of the organizations involved. Tuesday, July 13, is their National Day of Action. In 18 states events will be held; at the events, citizens will present petitions to the chief election official of each state.

The event's goal is to have the election officials adopt the "Pledge of Ballot Integrity." Adopting the pledge, commits them to provide verifiable paper ballots for the Nov. 2nd Election Day.

To add your name, click here: http://action.truemajority.com/index.asp?action=10178&ms=doa1&ref=74942

I will post details here as they become available.

Posted by Charlene Johnston on July 6, 2004 at 01:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)