A look back at two of the Council’s most popular programs

National Grassroots Conference
Election forecasts to storytelling, Internet virality to communicating effectively with the media, compliance to thought leadership, ‪the 2016 National Grassroots Conference‬ gave the over 200 attendees much food for thought as they head back to elevate their grassroots programs. Thank you to our participants, speakers, sponsors and vendors; we hope to see you in Key West next Jan. 30–Feb. 2!

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From left, the Council’s Rikki Amos, Nick DeSarno and Hannah Wesolowski opened proceedings with a discussion of overarching trends in grassroots advocacy. Benny Johnson of Independent Journal Review’s insightful (and hilarious) keynote focused on virality of content. How to get there? Be human, know your audience, create interaction and don’t be afraid to experiment.
Conference participants crafted and shared their short advocacy stories using the “eight-point story arc,” as suggested by The Zoldak Agency’s Sue Zoldak. Michael Crawford of MoveOn.org outlined the path that Freedom to Marry took: from rejection at the polls to a rainbow White House in mid-2015.
Renowned election expert Charlie Cook suggested that in the upcoming presidential election, we’ll see more “voting against” one candidate than “voting for” the other. Jared Hess of the American Bar Association and Amy Davis of Novozymes accepted the 2016 Grassroots Innovation Awards for Association and Corporate Innovation, respectively.
Wade Balkonis from H&R Block, Claire McDonough from Cision Government Relations, Yvette Williams from Johnson & Johnson and Joe May from State and Federal Communications received the Council’s Certificate in PAC and Grassroots Management. At the Resource Marketplace, attendees met the leading providers of technology and grassroots management services.
A packed house listened to James Papiano of James Papiano & Co. discuss the “Millennial advocate.” Blue State Digital’s Nate Byer spelled out some ways grassroots pros can learn from their marketing cousins to reach target audiences.
Caitlin Donahue of CRAFT | Media/Digital recommended that grassroots professionals consider Snapchat as another tool in the toolbox. If you can’t get your message down in under nine seconds, what’s the use? Google’s Nick Meads reminded us of the power of empathy with your audience. “We can feel for stories; we cannot feel for statistics,” he said.
The Education Trust’s Jack Fleming and Social Driver’s Paige Howarth urged participants to be judicious in choosing social media platforms for grassroots purposes. Choose what makes sense for you — not every platform. There was so much to take in over the course of the conference, you had to pay attention or else you might miss something important — like your next great idea!


Megan Cary of CMS Energy explains why attending the Grassroots Conference (among other Council executive education events) is so important to her.







Digital Media and Advocacy Summit
From the big picture of how the media, technology and politics intersect to the intricacies of digital advertising, ‪the 2016 Digital Media and Advocacy Summit‬ was a full day of learning, inquiry and even some laughter. Thanks to all who took part and we hope to see you again in 2017.

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Mo ElleitheeMo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University’s Institutes of Politics and Public Service gave a provocative take on the (de-)evolution of news & politics relative to social. Justin Kintz and Jamie CarracherJustin Kintz of Uber (right) and Jamie Carracher of America’s Health Insurance Plans offered attendees some tips based on their experiences running corporate and association digital advocacy campaigns.
Julia Krieger and Anna VetterJulia Krieger (standing) from the office of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s (D-N.D.), Sam Huxley of Fleishman Hillard and Anna Vetter from the office of Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) gave us a peek behind Capitol Hill’s digital curtain. Matt Fitting, Phillip Herndon and Julie HowellMatt Fitting (standing) of the American Heart Association, Phillip Herndon of the Business Roundtable and Julie Howell, also of the American Heart Association provided some great insight into how best to engage policymakers online.
2016 DMAS ReceptionAt the pre-Summit reception, participants, consultants and Council staff alike had the opportunity to network with peers, discuss the coming conference and have a little fun in the process. Nick DeSarnoNick DeSarno is the Council’s lead on digital communications and advocacy. If you have questions about the Summit or how to implement digital initiatives into your grassroots programs, contact him.


The American Heart Association’s Matthew Fitting attends the Digital Media and Advocacy Summit every year — and here’s why.