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MANDATE MEDIAdigital strategy for people changing the world

Writing like you mean it

By Ben DuPree:

Hi. I'm Ben DuPree. Strategy and copywriting are my game here at Mandate Media, which means you'll usually find me turning myself inside-out, searching for new and creative ways to inspire our clients' supporters to take action through e-mail campaigns and social media.

When our team went down to San Jose for Netroots Nation, my approach was simple: Attend sessions that would provide insight and inspiration on my writing. This army of grassroots activists and political professionals would certainly have a few ideas up their sleeves, a few new tricks to teach this old dog, right?


Thursday was a whirlwind. But the eye of the tornado, my place of calm and focus, was the morning session, entitled "Write like you mean it."

Put on by the smart people at the New Organizing Institute, the session's goal was simple: Describe theories of change, and think about how that spills over into writing. It's not good enough to ask your audience to take action - you inspire them act by telling honest and vivid stories, and by evoking senses, by gripping them.

The most humbling part of this session came when the organizers called out Team Mandate's work for Senator Jeff Merkley. Apparently, we wrote an e-mail they found particularly provocative. The flattery was appreciated, but also a challenge: It means we have to up our game even more.

The other major session I attended was the next day, which asked a question near to my heart - why do screenwriters make the best organizers?

We started watching a powerful movie clip from Pixar's "Up." Try to not tear up too much:

From this clip we discussed narrative, and how we use our advocacy to tell better stories. The presenter was right-on: It's not about simply describing facts, but about clearly showing your heroes, your villains, and the reasons taking action matter to your audience.

These two sessions together gave me a lot to think about. I look forward to reviewing my notes, cracking my knuckles, and getting back to what I enjoy most - telling a story that matters.


Posted by Ben DuPree on June 28, 2013 | See full archives