Fighting Voter Suppression Over the Net and On the Ground

•October 30, 2008 • 1 Comment

We are at a critical point in this election and there is time to support the local media in battle ground states who are looking for content with a local flair

For this election I have been working with a group of friends who are trying to get the message out about the network of legal advisers who will be at the polls, solving voter issues on election day.  The concern is that the national hotline 866-OUR-VOTE is not yet rolling off the tongues of every American who will be lined up at the polls on election day. Our focus is the battleground states and we have a burning desire to get that number known so that voters are clear that they have real-time, on-the-ground support if they run into trouble voting or if they witness voting irregularities at the polls.

We developed citizen generated videos, in broadcast quality, ready for the local broadcast television and radio affiliates to use our content on their networks.  We’ve been told all day that It’s the kind of content that their markets are responding to and it separates them from the larger networks.  We just launched the media outreach today and need a couple of  people to  help call producers and editors in local print pubs in the 4 remaining states during business hours.

We are in the last stage of our push to get the videos into the hands of the local TV stations. So far the pick up in the States we worked on this am has been good.  The feedback that we get from the producers is that that they need content with local flavor, not the high gloss celebrity productions used in national outreach campaign.

So, in the end, this is not a hard sell!  It’s a very easy way to have a meaningful effect on fighting voter suppression and voter fraud using the net.

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CHANGE

•November 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment
CHANGE

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On Election Day, 866-OUR-VOTE still Not Trickling Down to Local TV and Radio Broadcasters

•November 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Nov. 4, 2008. The first polls of the 2008 general election are closing on the east coast. Over the last 24 hours we expanded the reach of our campaign to 9 additional states.  This time our priorities shifted to states that had tight senatorial races or reports of voter problems. With the addition of three new people to the team, we finished our calls to the news desks by 1pm.  Once again, we have a good news / bad news story to tell.

Bad News:

In the new States: Only 98 % of the broadcast producers or assignment editors at the local channels had NOT heard of 866-OUR-VOTE or Election Protection.

Good News:

We were getting through to them on election day. Between 75% and 80% of the producers, program managers or assignment editors either looked at the videos while we were on the phone, expressed interest and appreciation and interest in running something on 866-OUR-VOTE, or, they said they would bring it up in their meeting for the morning and  6pm news coverage. We made it clear to these producers and the assignment editors that while our citizen produced content was available for download for immediate use, we cared that they get the word out how ever they saw fit, through a news story or a public service announcement.

By 1pm on election day, our small, dedicated and exhausted team had reached out to 2,200 local broadcast news outlets. We believe that the people sitting on the new desks of the local channels are often the first point of contact in the event that voting irregularities or voting suppression cropped up in their regions, and, we felt that it was our personal responsibility to make sure the news producers and program mangers learned how they could better serve their viewers  by first learning about the best kept secret of this election cycle, and second, air a public service announcement or story about the initiative.

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Moving into new Territory as Voter Suppression Rises

•November 3, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Now that we are one day out from election day, we got such a positive response from the broadcast producers in the key battleground states that we are now in 8 additional states that are either struggling with voter suppression or voter corruption issues or have close senatorial races. Below is our release last night to the key battleground states.

Only 1 in 10 broadcsat producers in the battle ground states are aware of 866-OUR-VOTE; yet their audiences representthose most affected by voter suppression and misinformation at the polls. Voter confusion at the polls is a local problem that is only solved if voters are informed of their rights. Less than 4% of voters in the battleground states are aware of the 866-OUR-VOTE initiative where over 10,000 legal experts will be deployed at the polls on election day to solve voting problems.

In response to this lack of awareness, 8 broadcast quality videos were produced by a citizen driven campaign as a means to ge the number to the polls on Nov 4th.  They made it easy for producers to run a story by making the video and audio spots available for download at http://urteve.com.

When shown how easy it was to download broadcast quality clips, 80% of the producers either  looked at our video on the spot and/or confirmed that they would be reporting on 866-OUR-VOTE in the coming days. Many producers also told the group that they were in need of content that differentiated their coverage from the nationally syndicated feeds.

Is the word about 866-OUR-VOTE Reaching the Most Vulnerable Voters?

•November 2, 2008 • Leave a Comment

We believe that “Election Protection” is best equipped to prevent a calamity by linking legal experts with voters who are having trouble voting before and on election day. However, after communicating with the publicity operations of “Election Protection” we sensed a missing link in their national campaign.

What we learned:

* The “Election Protection” was rightly directed to those who are most vulnerable to being discouraged from going to the polls, or prevented from voting at the polling stations: they are the elderly, minorities and the under-informed…
* The campaign launched later than optimal.
* The campaign was not reaching local television and radio broadcast markets, and there was no indication that it would.

What we did:

* Produced 8 video clips and audio clips with “real” people talking about what would they do if they had trouble voting on election day (with both English and Spanish content). We gave the videos the look and feel of content that local channels might produce themselves.
* In the last two days of October, we called every broadcast producer at the news desks of local TV and radio stations in the battleground states to ask if they had heard about the Election Protection or 866-OUR-VOTE initiative.

What we found:

* Almost no one knew about 866-OUR-VOTE or Election Protection. Only 1 in 10 producers had heard of Election Protection or 866-OUR-VOTE.
* But 8 out of 10 producers either looked at our video or audio clips on the spot and/or confirmed that they were in need of content that differentiated themselves from what is coming over the nationally syndicated feeds. They also reported that the content coming over nationally syndicated feeds was stale content by mid day. Some of them pointed out that their audience was not predominantly those who read NYT, WSJ or tuned into NPR and that ad campaigns targeted to those individuals would miss their markets.
* When shown how easy it was to download broadcast quality clips, we got comments like: great, cool, interesting, we’ll use this on election day, thanks, etc…

Our job is not quite done, but feel free to contact us if you would like to learn how you can help with this effort!

Notes from the Virtual Trenches

•November 1, 2008 • Leave a Comment

We spent the last two days speaking to producers in the battleground states and learned these surprising things.

1. The national pr campaign for 866-OUR-VOTE hot line was not trickling down to the local television and radio broadcast affiliates.  1 in 10 producers who we spoke to ( out of a list of 2000 local tv, radio and print outlets) said that they had not heard about the hot line.  Those that did had no ideas that  10K plus legal experts would be dispatched to the polls on election day.

2. Our success rate was higher than expected where 8 out of 10  have said “Yes they are very likely to air the videos” and several of those said that they were likely to be airing the clips all the way through election day. They said that they were in need of content  that resonates with their audience and are less interested in national feeds that become stale very quickly or content this targeted to the the NYT, FT, NPR and WSJ. crowds. Those people tend not to be in our core market.”