Want Your Political Representatives to Take the Pro-Truth Pledge?

Caption: Woman speaking in political context (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

So you took the Pro-Truth Pledge yourself and are excited to get your political representatives to take it? Great: let’s talk about how you can do so!

Figure Out Who They Are

The first step to getting your political representatives (whether elected or appointed) to take the pledge is figuring out who they are. It’s not hard to do. Just put into your preferred search engine “contact your political representatives in [country]” without quotation marks and you get a list of websites that help you contact your representatives. If your country’s primary language is not English, use the appropriate language.

For example, this is the link to the search result in Google for contacting representatives in Australia. The first site at the top is this one, giving Australians clear ways of contacting their elected representatives.

It’s even easier if you are in the US. Thanks to the Google Civic Information API, our website developers put together an automatic way for you to learn who are your elected representatives. Just enter your address into the top bar on this page. You will get a menu with (almost) all of your elected representatives, from local to national, and the number of pledge-takers per elected representative.

Once you figure out your elected representatives, use your preferred search engine to figure out if there are any candidates running for the office. Then, you can pitch both the incumbent and all the candidates.

Pitching Your Elected Representatives

After you find your elected representatives, figure out their emails, website contact form, Twitter profile, Facebook page, and other social media, along with phone numbers. They usually have these readily available, with the possible exception of email for more high-profile politicians. You can use this guide on finding emails if their emails are not readily available. Next, follow the directions here, which have a variety of templates for you to pitch politicians and candidates for office.

For the US, it’s even easier once you enter your address on this page. You will see the websites and social media of most of your elected representatives. Do some additional research to figure out their emails and any social media that may not be present there (remember, the Google Civic Information API does not provide complete information). Also, don’t forget to figure out candidates for office.

The best thing about entering your address into this page is that those who have easily-available Twitter accounts will have a blue “Twitter” button above and to the right of their picture. When you click on that button, you will send to each one this message: “I took the #ProTruthPledge at https://ProTruthPledge.org/ because I value #truth and #facts and I ask my representative @ [twitter handle] join me in taking @ProTruthPledge and showing that #TruthMatters and #FactsMatter to them.” Here’s an example of how it looks, and below is a video showing you how to do so.

It takes 5 seconds (literally, not figuratively) to send a tweet to each. So take 5 minutes to tweet to all of them, and repeat the same 5 minute tweeting per week. You can easily set up a Twitter account if you don’t have one. Make your voice heard and make a difference – Tweet for Truth now!

Don’t forget to then go through all the other social media channels, website contact form, email, and phone, using the directions here. Also, don’t forget to contact candidates for office: we find that they – not being career politicians – have a much higher likelihood of taking the pledge.

We know these strategies work: a number of public figures have been convinced to take the pledge through reaching out to them on social media. For example, one of our volunteers has described how whenever anyone invites him to “like” a Facebook page from a politician, he asks whether that individual have taken the pledge. After a couple of exchanges back and forth, where he explains the pledge and follows up, about a quarter end up taking the pledge. Imagine what would happen if a quarter of all the politicians whose Facebook pages you were invited to like end up taking the pledge!

Now, you can also meet and pitch public figures in person. Use the script informed by the email templates, along with this blog on how politicians can get maximum benefit from taking the pledge. We also recommend bringing along the information of all the people who have signed the Pro-Truth Pledge in that politician’s region if it’s a regional politician, or country if it’s a national-level politician, since part of signing the pledge involves calling on one’s elected representatives to sign the pledge. We can make that information available to you if you email info [at] protruthpledge [dot] org outside the US, or you can put in the relevant address into this page to get US data.

Ideally, you would also bring along a PTP sign-up binder with some sample signatures, or at least photos of signatures. The binder provides demonstrable proof that signatures were gathered, while the spreadsheet provides the total number of actual signatures.

Note that politicians – or their staff, who you will likely be talking to if it’s a high-level political figure – will likely want you to leave them with some physical presence of the number of people who signed the PTP. What you can do is print out a photograph of one page of a sign-up sheet, as physical proof of signature-gathering, along with printing out the spreadsheet with all the names of the people who signed the PTP in that region or country. You can then leave it with the politician or their staff, along with a flyer with the text of the PTP.

It’s especially good to approach politicians during a candidate’s forum or listening session, as these are specifically designated times for politicians to meet constituents. There, you can ask them publicly in the Q&A about whether they would be willing to take the pledge, and mention that you contacted them before. If you can get someone to videotape you, it’s especially helpful, as in this video that you can use as a guide.

Then for each public figure you contact, fill out this form, and in the “Any relevant notes,” note that you have contacted this person. That way, we can keep a clear track record of the politicians who are contacted, and circle back around to them later, referencing the first contact. It’s really important and helpful to do so in order to ensure successful pitches, so please do help us out on this one!

Conclusion

These are the strategies that got over 100 politicians to take the pledge, including Member of US Congress Beto O’Rourke, as you can see from this video of him taking the pledge. There’s no magic, just people like you reaching out to their political representatives and making the request. So join us in doing so, and let us know any questions or comments you have about this process below!

Starting a Pro-Truth Pledge Chapter

Caption: Image of red figure as leader of group (nistdh/Flickr)

Are you excited about the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP) and interested in starting your own chapter? Awesome! Let’s talk about how to be an area organizer for the PTP.

Goals

All the chapters start from a single seed of a passionate person dedicated to fighting misinformation and post-truth politics. You will be recruiting and coordinating others to ensure the outcomes of the Pro-Truth Pledge are met, namely that:

  • The PTP is effectively promoted to the public, getting more and more people to sign
  • There is effective lobbying of public figures, especially politicians, to get them to sign
  • There is effective evaluation of local-level public figures who signed the pledge
  • There are effective behind-the-scenes activities needed to support activities on the local level, such as management of communication processes and collaboration venues, and community support for PTP activities
  • There is sufficient financial support to address the needs of the local group for things like printing, travel, tabling, and marketing, and also donations to the global Pro-Truth movement run by the educational nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit Intentional Insights to run the central operations of the PTP
  • There is effective coordination of all the areas of PTP activity listed above

Sounds like a lot, right? Don’t worry, it takes a lot of time – many months and even years – to build up to the level of a full-fledged chapter that accomplishes all these goals! However, it’s good to know the eventual destination, so that you know where you’re going. It’s also helpful to know that others have already gotten there – for example the Central Ohio chapter – so you have a clear roadmap to follow.

There are clear guidelines for all aspects of PTP activism at this link, so you don’t have to worry about lacking directions. You should also read through and be comfortable with the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to address any concerns. Of course, the central PTP organizers – the PTP Central Coordination Committee (CCC) – will be there to help you every step of the way. If you do decide to take on this role, you will be assigned both a mentor from among more experienced PTP area organizers, and a contact at the PTP CCC who will help you out.

Role and Timing

The role of an area organizer is to empower and support other PTP Advocates – which is the name we use for PTP volunteers – in effective collaboration to advance all aspects of the PTP project. You as an area organizer are accountable for the outcomes of the 6 areas of PTP activities listed above. To do so, we find that seeing yourself as a leader enacting the following behaviors is really helpful:

  • Inspiring people to volunteer and donate by communicating first about the problems that the PTP is solving, sharing successes, and then letting them know about the needs of the group
  • Finding a good fit for the ones who start to get involved in the various activities available
  • Helping those who get involved work together well by setting up clear communication processes and collaborative venues
  • Encouraging shared expectations and sticking to commitments, and renegotiation of commitments and expectations when life stuff comes up
  • Modeling the behaviors of the Pro-Truth Pledge both in-person and on social media (for the latter, follow all the guidelines in this blog)
  • Modeling direct and transparent communication, erring on the side of an overabundance of communication rather than insufficient communication
  • Exhibiting emotional and social intelligence to read people and channel their enthusiasm and other emotions into healthy channels
  • Addressing conflicts that will arise in an effective and healthy manner
  • Providing an engaging community setting: doing fun things together, in-person and online; getting to know each other socially; building a truth-oriented community where people can find a home
  • Being a cheerleader for accomplishments, and giving due praise

Remember that you will be organizing people who have very different values than you do. Whether you are religious or secular, left-leaning or right-leaning, or any other ideological perspective, you will be bringing together people to work on a shared project of advocating for truth-oriented behaviors in addressing value differences. That means that you yourself need to model an inclusive and welcoming attitude for people with different values, and be especially welcoming and inclusive toward people with values different from your own and also those whose values are in the minority in your group. Doing so will be key to helping these people both be engaged in the Pro-Truth movement and as a result reach out to their social networks and communicate the Pro-Truth message to people who hold similar values and change the culture in our society.

It takes a minimal commitment of 2 hours a week for 12 months to build up a chapter, with more on some weeks depending on what’s going on, so keep that in mind as you decide whether to go on this journey.

Caption: Image saying “not sure if I’m ready to make that sort of commitment” (Meme created by blog author)

Fortunately, you don’t have to make a solid commitment to starting up a chapter. You can just start by canvassing to gather signatures or doing public speaking, which are the two main methods of recruiting other participants. This takes a much lower commitment of time and effort, and if you are not ready to make a 2-hour commitment for 12 months, just work on canvassing and/or doing public speaking.

Financial Support

Let’s talk about giving you money! If you or any of the people you are coordinating have financial difficulties for any PTP-related needs, we can reimburse the large majority of them. See this link. For area organizers like yourself, we will consider additional requests for funding for your needs above and beyond the ones listed above, just email finance [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org with your needs and depending on our financial capacity, we will see what can be done.

This is one of the reasons for why eventually – when the group is well-established and self-supporting – there’s an expectation of members making donations to the central PTP organization. We finance any PTP Advocates – whether area organizers or not – who need financial support for PTP activism. We also spend money on marketing, website management, and other costs. So as you do area organizing, encourage members to donate both to local group needs and to the central PTP organization.

Plan of Action

Here’s the plan of action for starting up your area group.

  • As an area organizer, you’d want to do activities that are most impactful, which means moving as quickly as possible in coordinating other people and doing strategic planning, rather than doing ground-level activities (however much fun those might be for you).
  • You’ll start off by first getting signatures: in our experience, at least 20 percent of the people who sign up indicate they want to help, and about 20 percent of those turn out to be reliable and consistent volunteers. Here is a blog with thorough directions for gathering signatures at events through canvassing or tabling. Another way to gather signatures is to do public speaking, and gather signatures from audience members: this blog gives extensive directions on doing so.
  • You can also do local-level social media, and go to various local Facebook groups and other relevant social media to promote the PTP there. You can write blogs in local venues or letters-to-the-editor in local newspapers about the pledge. This will help spread the word in the local area, but not contribute much to building up a chapter. Face-to-face interactions are crucial for doing so.
  • A super-easy way to promote the pledge in daily life is to purchase and wear PTP-themed merchandise, especially when you do PTP-themed activities, but also just out and about – it’s a great conversation starter.
  • Once you gather enough signatures, you would want to focus on coordinating people in their volunteer activities, decreasing your own time doing ground-level activities. Once you have about 5 people in the area interested in the PTP, start organizing meetings: here’s one typical videotaped meeting with an agenda attached in the video description that comes from the early stage of setting up an area group.
  • We suggest you focus these volunteers first on gathering more signatures, enough to form a solid core team in your area of about 20-30 consistent volunteers. At the same time, you’ll want to form a coordinating committee, of about 3-5 people, who can each take charge of different areas of PTP activities and work together to coordinate other volunteers. As you start having increased numbers of people participating, check out these guidelines to help you lead effectively.
  • Once you gather at least 250 signatures, and get a person who is able to take charge of lobbying, you will be ready to start lobbying local-level elected or appointed officials and other public figures in your locale to take the pledge, using the guidelines here. Of course, you can do virtual lobbying earlier, through sending them emails and tweeting them and sending Facebook messages and calling them, but do not take the time to meet them in-person until you have gathered 250 signatures as they will be unlikely to listen to you.
  • In lobbying public officials, we advise you to start with candidates for office rather than office-holders, as the candidates will be more likely to take the pledge, since they have less to lose by doing so. Once a candidate for office takes the pledge, you can then go to incumbents and tell them that the candidate for office took it, and you also have a lot of signatures from their constituents asking them to take it, and see if they take it. After you get a dozen or so public figures signed up, you will want to establish a monitoring system, following the directions at this link.
  • Try to set up collaborations with local groups interested in the PTP, which would usually be various kinds of grassroots political or civic education or science-themed activism groups. Ask leaders in those groups to take the PTP, and get the whole group committed to the PTP, and they will then help you advance the PTP message. Also coordinate with local branches of national organizations.
  • Please make sure that, within any ordinary situation, you will respond to emails or Facebook messages about the PTP within 48 hours, and to texts or voicemails within 24 hours. It’s fine to respond saying “I got your message and will respond by ____,” so that the other person knows that you are accountable to get back to them in that time. As we are trying to promote truth and accountability, it is really important to be accountable as area organizers. Of course, emergencies come up, and that’s totally understandable. Still, if it is not an emergency and you are traveling or on vacation, please indicate that through email vacation auto-responders or something of that style. Be as professional and accountable in your activism as you can be, both to internal stakeholders such as members of the pro-truth movement, and external stakeholders who want to learn more about the movement.

Communication and Coordination

Let’s talk a bit about communication and coordination.

  • If you want to be an area organizer, please email info [at] protruthpledge [dot] org, and you will be connected both to an experienced area organizer as a mentor and an Area Organizers Coordinator on the PTP CCC.
  • Make sure to meet with your mentor once every 2 weeks for 6 months by videoconference or phone to help you get launched on your own.
  • Please join the PTP Area Organizers Google Group, our email list for area organizers like yourself. Just click on the link in the previous sentence and request to join the group if you haven’t been added to it already by one of the core organizers. Add the email pro-truth-pledge-area-organizers@googlegroups.com to your safe senders/contact list.
  • You will be added to the secret Facebook group for PTP Area Organizers. Since it is secret, you can’t join yourself, but let the person who recruited you know if they forget to add you in a timely manner. You will also get an invitation to the Pro-Truth Pledge Slack for core PTP participants like yourself.
  • You should use the Slack and secret Facebook group for things that you only want core participants to comment on and know. For example, if you’re planning out things that might be perceived as controversial, such as how to put pressure on public figures to take the PTP, these are good venues to do so. So are things that require more privacy, such as discussing how to push someone to retract a statement, or how to address problems with other PTP Advocates in your group, and so on. Another good use of these groups is to troubleshoot or run ideas by a small core group rather than the bigger and less in-the-know people in the PTP Global Advocates FB group. For asking questions on PTP strategy and tactics that are of a more general nature, as well to share accomplishments, the PTP Advocates FB group is your best bet. If you want to share relevant articles that are not about the pledge but about politics in general, use the InIn Insiders group. In general, anything that has to do with the pledge is best for the Pro-Truth Pledge Advocates FB group, so make sure that anything you post there is explicitly related to the pledge. The other group is for broader content related to truth and rational thinking, in politics and other life areas.
  • Each month at the end of the month, please fill out this brief update form (5-10 minutes) about your activities for the past month fighting lies and promoting truth via advancing the PTP to ensure shared expectations and clear communication. It will be sent to you in the Google Group for PTP area organizers (pro-truth-pledge-area-organizers@googlegroups.com) and also via FB. That form allows you to share what you are doing, what challenges you might be facing, and how the PTP CCC can help, whether providing you with existing resources you might not know about or develop new resources to address your needs. Please fill it out within 3 days of receipt (might want to just put a calendar reminder for yourself with a link to that form if that works well for you). After you fill it out, the PTP CCC Area Organizers Coordinator will send you names of people who signed up to help with the PTP in your area over the past month, and provide you with helpful resources, both based on your self-description of your activities and plans, and on your specific request for resources (sometimes, area organizers may be unfamiliar with all the resources available, which is why your description of your past activities and future plans is relevant for the resources section). If you due to some life events have not had an opportunity to work much on the PTP in the last month, or anticipate not being able to work on it much in the upcoming month, simply state so in the form.
  • After you get the list of names of people who signed up to help with the PTP in your area over the past month, reach out to them using following this draft template, adapting it to your own needs. Make a reminder to yourself to follow up with them in a week after you sent the original email, using FollowUpThen (simply add 1w@fut.io in your BCC field).
  • Likewise, try to find them on Facebook. We know that some people don’t like Facebook, but we strongly recommend you use Facebook as an organizing tool, so if you currently do not have a Facebook account, please set one up for this explicit purpose, as it’s very effective for that purpose, and encourage PTP Advocates in your locale to do so as well. You can find them on FB (if they have an account) relatively easily: just go to the Facebook search box, and put in their first and last name and state. If you find more than one person with that name in the state, then you can search by city. We recommend not searching by city right away, because some people’s actual city may not match their city on Facebook: for example, people may live in a small suburb of a large city, but indicate on Facebook that they live in the large city for clarity. If you’re relatively confident you found the right person, then send them a message saying “Thanks for taking the Pro-Truth Pledge at https://www.protruthpledge.org/ I’m an area organizer for [area], and wanted to connect on Facebook to facilitate communication and collaboration. Please extend me a Facebook friend request.” If you’re not sure that you found the right person, send a message saying “Did you take the Pro-Truth Pledge at https://www.protruthpledge.org/ ? I’m an area organizer for [area], and wanted to connect on Facebook to facilitate communication and collaboration. Please extend me a Facebook friend request if you did take the pledge.”
  • If you know the person and are connected with them on Facebook or elsewhere, send the email just using their first name instead of first name and last name: the point of this email is to welcome them and give them the background knowledge about the movement. If they don’t respond in a week, check in with a message like, “Dear [first name, last name], wanted to confirm you received my previous email about the Pro-Truth Pledge, and that it did not fall into your spam filter. Thanks!”
  • For folks who you connected with by FB, check with them additionally by FB messenger whether they received your email. If they don’t respond in a week after that, try contacting them from another email address, in case the spam filter blocked your original one. After that, contact them by phone if you have it, texting “Hi [first name, last name], checking whether you got my email about the Pro-Truth Pledge,” and if they don’t respond, then calling and leaving a voicemail. At that stage, if you don’t get a response, let it go.
  • One of your roles as area organizer will be to manage the area Facebook group: please act as the group moderator (role described here). If there is no Facebook group for your area, get in touch with your PTP Area Organizers Coordinator to have one created. We usually make groups for states within the US and countries outside the US: once there are enough people in a country outside the US, we make regional-level groups. One of the things you’ll want to do eventually is delegate some moderator activities to others: you’ll still be accountable for making sure they’re done, so check up to make sure the person is doing them well. We find people tend to have an unfortunate tendency of forgetting to do the tasks described there. To see how a more established FB group works, join the Ohio PTP Advocates FB group – click on the link and request to join the group, and in the answer to question 3, say that you are an area organizer, and want to see how a more established group works. After the group is set up, then add all participants in your locale to it following the directions at this link. You can use that group to communicate to people effective about local activities, and use it to create Facebook group events (guide here) to organize activities.
  • After you have enough people in your area (over 100), we recommend that you use these directions to set up a Google Group, which is essentially a simplified email list, for your area dedicated to PTP-oriented activities. This is for when you have a few people actively involved, so that you don’t just keep emailing each other. Name it [area] Pro-Truth Pledge Advocates, which will help people standardize things well across the country. For the group description and welcome message, we advise something like “Thanks for helping fight lies and promote the truth through joining this email list, which is focused on the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP) and other Pro-Truth movement activities in [area]. You are welcome to send any emails relevant to PTP organizing in this list, but please avoid overwhelming folks with an overabundance of emails, so send no more than one every three days unless there’s an emergency or great opportunity. Thanks!” When adding people, use “direct add” rather than invitations, as sometimes invitations go to spam. For settings, allow everyone to send emails to the list at first, until you have too many people sending emails, and at that time, put in moderation so that people don’t become overwhelmed: a good benchmark is a maximum of 1 email every 2 days, but check with your email list members by having them fill out a poll occasionally on their experience with the list. Also, make it so users choose where to send replies, to the list as a whole or to the individual who sent the original email. Please also join the Ohio PTP Advocates Google Group – click on the link and request to join the group – to see how an established group works.
  • Also, we recommend that you create a Google Docs folder with various documents relevant to your group, such as lists of volunteers, various events where you want to gather signatures, various public figures in your local area you want to target, and so on – here is an example of one such Google Docs folder for the Central Ohio PTP group. This allows group members to collaborate together effectively.
  • One of the early tasks to do for your group is to get people to find local events to get PTP signatures. An easy way to do so is to create a Google Form like this one, provide it to your group members, and have them find events. Then, you can coordinate people in attending these events. Remember, try to do everything you can to lower barriers for them and make organizing as easy as possible
  • Once your group gets large enough to have a coordinating group of organizers, consider creating a FB message thread or separate Google Group specifically for the organizers in your locale.
  • Once your Facebook Group and Google Group is going, it’s time to create an Area Facebook Page (guidelines here) and Area Twitter Account (guidelines here). Doing so is important for providing you with credibility and public visibility. Do not feel obliged to take on doing this task yourself if you have more important priorities or lack time, instead find volunteers who are excited about doing these. Focus first on large areas, to encompass states or countries, and only later moving down to cities as support builds up.
  • For guidance on creating a Facebook Group, Google Group, Google Folder, Google Form, Facebook Page, Twitter Account, or anything like that, talk to your mentor or PTP CCC coordinator.

We strongly recommend that you offer to meet with people individually to help get them oriented, either in-person or online, and once you have more than a couple of people actively involved, set up a regular meeting once a month dedicated to advancing the PTP in your locale. While not all will become actively involved in meetings and signature-gathering, those who do will spread the PTP through their social networks, do research, lobby politicians, donate, and so on. It’s really important to try to do at least one face-to-face meeting – virtual or videoconference – to get them involved with this project. Also, don’t worry about being overwhelmed with meetings as a result of sending out emails. Our experience is that only about a third of the people you email will end up meeting with you, and it will take many weeks for some to do so, so you have plenty of time to space it out.

Conclusion

Being an area organizer of a local chapter is perhaps the most important thing you can do with your time to advance the fight against misinformation and post-truth politics. We will gladly support your efforts. Please let us know how we can help!

Getting Media Attention for the Pro-Truth Pledge

Caption: Image of newspaper icon (angiechaoticcrooks0/Pixabay)

So you’d like to get some media attention for the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP)? Excellent! Doing so is a great way of spreading the word to more potential pledge-takers.

After each instance of media coverage, more people visit the PTP website, and some of these visitors take the pledge. Whether they do so depends on the visitors, of course: it’s not under your control. What’s under your control is taking the steps that would lead to coverage of the PTP both by traditional and digital media.

Letter-to-the-Editor

A letter-to-the-editor about the Pro-Truth Pledge is a super-easy way anyone – and I do mean anyone – can make a meaningful difference in less than 15 minutes! Here’s a link to a guide on writing letters to the editor. In a nutshell, you’d want to respond either to an article or op-ed published in the newsletter, or write about some top-of-mind news event or calendar date. Follow the instructions of your local newspaper(s) when submitting letters to them.

Your goal is to insert a reference to the Pro-Truth Pledge, along with a link to it, in the letter. It is very unlikely that the link will be published, but it will give the editorial staff a chance to check out the website and realize it’s a credible and serious project.

An example of a very simple yet successful PTP-themed letter is this one by Carl Baker. As you will see, it’s a very generic letter. You yourself can take this exact same letter and send it to your own newspaper (Carl will be happy for you to do so). Doing so will take you less than 5 minutes, and there is no copyright or any other problem with you doing it.

Another example of a successful PTP-themed letter is this one by Stephanie Frizzell. This letter is slightly more complex, but has a stronger impact. It was topical because it was shortly before the election, and named the candidates in the local area who took the PTP, boosting their reputation as a result. This kind of letter is especially helpful to write shortly before an election. Again, please adapt it for your needs: in fact, Stephanie adapted it from a similar letter I wrote earlier. This one will take 10-15 minutes.

A third example of a successful PTP-themed letter is this one by Russ Frizzell (the husband of Stephanie Frizzell). This letter again had a tie-in to newsworthy events, namely the recent election. You can use this letter as well for your needs.

Op-Ed

Writing an opinion piece for a newspaper or online venue is another way of spreading word about the PTP. To get an op-ed published takes a combination of writing skill and strong opinion. It’s not for everyone. If you want to try it, here is a link with guidelines about writing op-eds.

We had a number of op-eds published about the PTP. For example, this one is devoted exclusively to the PTP, and so is this one. Note that both of these are in community newspapers, which do not have nearly as much competition for op-ed space. On the other hand, this one and this one sneak in the pledge into the content of the op-ed, giving it a couple of sentences. These op-eds are in very prominent newspapers, which would not have carried an op-ed simply about the PTP.

Feature Piece

Want to get a feature piece in your local newspaper, or on your radio or TV station about the Pro-Truth Pledge? It’s easier than you think. Just find the names of all the journalists at the newspaper, and hosts and producers at your radio and TV stations, and send them a pitch email inviting them to take the pledge and/or do a story about it.

Some will take the pledge, which will be a good outcome. Some will want to write a story about it. That’s how we got this feature story about the PTP in a major newspaper, as well as this feature story in a community newspaper. You’ll have more success with community newspapers than major ones, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

In case you’re worried about how to find the emails of reporters, it’s pretty easy. After all, reporters are looking for tips. Just search for the staff director or contact section of the newspaper in your area. As an example, here’s the contact list of the major newspaper – The Columbus Dispatch, 35th largest newspaper in the US – that did the feature story about the PTP. Don’t be worried about “spamming” reporters either. It’s their job to get the news, and the PTP is definitely a newsworthy story. I’d say getting a feature piece is easier than an op-ed.

If you’re doing some event related to the PTP, try calling reporters in advance and encouraging them to show up. For instance, that’s how we got the PTP on television at the March for Truth event in Central Ohio.

Social Media Venues

There are many social media groups which you can approach to encourage them to share about the Pro-Truth Pledge, such as Facebook groups, Pinterest boards, LinkedIn groups, Reddit subreddits, and so on dedicated to science, philosophy, politics, ethics, psychology, and similar topics of relevance to the Pro-Truth Pledge. In most of these venues, unless they have a specific policy forbidding sharing about external projects, you can simply make a post about the PTP, with a message about how it relates to the group’s purpose.

For example, for a political discussion group on Facebook or Reddit, you can propose that everyone abides by the tenets of the PTP. That will get some people to check it out and promote an engaging conversation. The likely outcome will be both improving the quality of discussion in the group, along with some people taking the PTP. For a LinkedIn group on ethics, you can post about the PTP as a way of promoting ethical behavior among professionals. In short, adapt the PTP to each group.

Note that in some cases, groups are heavily moderated. Heavy moderation applies especially to larger groups, which of course are ones where you tend to have a bigger impact when posting about the PTP. In those cases, check who the group’s admins are, and ask them if they would approve a post about the PTP. For checking on Facebook who the admins are, see the directions here. Do a Google search for finding admins on other social media if you can’t figure it out easily. Then, pitch them on the PTP via the templates available here. If they take the PTP, suggest posting in the group about it.

Association/Organization Media Venues

Various associations and organizations often have their own media venues. Some will have a bigger likelihood of being friendly to the PTP, such as ones associated with science, philosophy, politics, ethics, psychology, and similar topics. To spread the message via these venues, first pitch the people in leadership roles in the association on the PTP via the templates available here. Then, once they take the PTP, ask them to spread it to their audiences.

In some cases, they will ask you to write an article targeted to their audience. That’s great! For example, when we wrote this article for the Skeptic Society, it went to their email list of 100K, and resulted in about 700 people signing the PTP. Another example is this article for the United Coalition of Reason. Get the halo effect going for you by associating the PTP with that organization and the relevant audience. For example, in the Skeptic Society article, the title was “THE PRO-TRUTH PLEDGE: An Effective Strategy for Skeptics to Fight Fake News and Post-Truth Politics.” It would have been just as accurate to use the phrase “for people” as “for skeptics,” but using the latter phrase helped the audience identify with the PTP and made them more likely to take it.

Guest interview

You can also try to get on media venues as a guest to talk about the PTP. Doing so takes figuring out the contact information of the media venue and specifically the person booking guests; getting in touch with the person and showing them why the PTP would be relevant for their audience; and then showing why you would be a good person to be a guest on the show to talk about the PTP.

It helps if you have any of the following five characteristics: 1) have been active in the PTP movement for a while (over 6 months); 2) have previous interview experience; 3) are a public figure; 4) have expertise in a certain area of the PTP, for instance are a behavioral scientist with expertise in the research behind the PTP; 5) belong to a certain demographic served by a media venue, for instance if you’re a resident of a city and a radio show focuses on that city, or if you belong to a certain demographic and a podcast focuses on that demographic. We have many guest interviews you can check out as models for talking on shows about the PTP: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Conclusion

We’re excited to learn about your efforts to get media attention for the PTP! Post comments here with successes and failures, and make any suggestions on improvements in the strategies describes in this blog.

PSAs for Podcasts and Radio Shows

How Public Figures Can Get Maximum Benefit From Taking the Pro-Truth Pledge

Caption: Image of arrow in center of target with checkmark (mohamed1982eg/Pixabay)

You’re a public figure or organization representative who took the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP)? Wonderful! Let’s talk about how you can get the most benefit from taking it.

Your PTP Profile

First of all, make sure that your Pro-Truth Pledge profile on the Public Figures and Organizations PTP page looks the way you want it to look. We find that people who provide a paragraph about why they took the pledge, their photographs, and links to their online venues – websites, social media, articles about them, etc. – get quite a bit more traffic from the page. Note that the website automatically puts up all the information you entered into the form in the way you entered it, without a human evaluating how it looks or ensuring the grammar structure makes sense. So if there was a typo or if some aspect of the profile wasn’t filled in correctly, it will need to be fixed manually.

Just search for your name, keeping in mind that the public figure and organization signers are in reverse chronological order. If you find a problem, or just want to flesh out your form, email info [at] protruthpledge [dot] org to let us know, and we’ll fix it on the backend for you. We’ll try to catch obvious errors or oversights when we go through the data in occasional database cleanups, but it’s much more effective and certain if you email us yourself.

Remember, news media who are writing stories about the PTP use that page to learn about which public figures and organizations took the pledge and why they did so. Private citizens use that page to decide for which politicians to vote, from which media personalities to get their news, which authors to read, which organizations to support, and so on. Put your best foot forward by ensuring that you represent yourself well on that page.

Be Public About the Pledge

You took the pledge, so you’re already being evaluated for the truthfulness of your public statements. So be public about the fact that you took it! That both helps you get the maximum benefit from taking the pledge, and also helps create the most positive impact for promoting truth and fighting lies by making your existing followers aware of the PTP.

Please post on Facebook and on Twitter about taking the pledge. Next, add the Pro-Truth Pledge badge to your website as globally-known philosopher Peter Singer did on his website.

Caption: Screenshot of the homepage of Peter Singer’s website (Courtesy of Peter Singer)

Check out our blog with suggestions on implementing the PTP on social media. Here are some specific steps that have worked well for other public figures: please add the following statement to the “About” section of your Facebook page: “I have taken the Pro-Truth Pledge ProTruthPledge.org: please hold me accountable“ as in this example, and the same statement to the “About” section of your personal Facebook profile as in this example. For your LinkedIn profile, add that you are a “Signer” of the Pro-Truth Pledge LinkedIn organization. Click the “+” button on your “Experience” section, put in “Signer” as title, choose “Pro-Truth Pledge” as the organization, put in your date of signing, and in the description state “I have taken the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org: please hold me accountable.” You can add additional information about why you chose to take the pledge and/or what kind of activities you are doing to advance the pledge as well.

If you have other relevant social media venues, please add the same statement there. Please add this Facebook Frame to your Facebook profile, and this Twibbon to your Twitter profile (please mark the Facebook Frame as “permanent” as the main point of the frame is to show others that you took the pledge and are comfortable being held publicly accountable for your words). Here is an example of the Facebook frame from Randy Grein, who was at the time running for a City Council position in Bellevue, WA.

Caption: Screenshot of Randy Grein’s Facebook profile with PTP Facebook Frame (Courtesy of Randy Grein)

Naturally, he had it on his campaign website page as well.

Caption: Screenshot of the homepage of Randy Grein’s website with PTP website seal (Courtesy of Randy Grein)

Does it make a difference? You bet! Here’s my Facebook message exchange with Randy Grein about the impact of him sharing about taking the PTP.

  • Randy Grein: People have been noticing. And it’s helping with the campaign. Which is as it should be, but still surprising that people value honesty.
  • Gleb Tsipursky: Wonderful to hear that people are noticing and it’s helping the campaign, great! Glad to hear it. Spread word to other political candidates about it too, encourage them to take it.
  • Randy Grein: working on it, but it may not have much effect til the next cycle. Hope you’re in it for the long term!
  • Gleb Tsipursky: Of course I am 🙂

Grein permitted me to quote him, and the full exchange is at this link for anyone who wants to see a screenshot.

If you have a blog, consider writing a thorough description of why you took the pledge, as Ed Brayton did here. If you are a radio show host like Ethan Bearman, it helps to take the pledge during a live interview to spread the word to your audience, as he did here. Alternatively, you can take the pledge and have an interview afterward with one of the pledge organizers, as podcaster Jon Willis did here. If you are part of a larger group, such as Jami Miller who is an editor at the Progressive Army news website, try to get your colleagues to take the pledge.

What about organizations? Let’s take the example of Professor Edward Maibach, who is the head of the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. He took the pledge himself and tweeted about it, and took the pledge on behalf of the organization he runs, and had the organization indicate it did so by retweeting a tweet about it. He then encouraged people in his department to take the pledge.

Make it fit whatever format is best suitable to your online presence or media channels. As an example, Douglas Nix, a business leader, put it on his official contact page on his business website. Pat Lynch, the CEO of Women’s Radio Network, did a radio episode about it.

You may also be interested in getting more actively involved in the Pro-Truth Pledge virtual or in-person community. Please join this Facebook group for Intentional Insights, the 501(c)3 nonprofit running the pledge project. That group is dedicated to promotion of truth and rational thinking in politics and other life areas. After that, join this Facebook group for Global Pro-Truth Pledge-oriented activities. The Facebook group for Global Pro-Truth Pledge-oriented activities also has links out to local groups which you might be interested in joining in your area. On LinkedIn, join our Pro-Truth Pledge Advocates group.

Last but not least, tell other public figures you know about having taken the pledge, and invite them to join you in doing so. This offers you both more credibility as someone truth-oriented yourself, and helps promote the pledge at the same time. Here are a number of template pitches to different types of public figures, which you can adapt to your needs and relationship with each individual person you would like to invite to take the pledge.

The Pledge in Elections

The PTP has a special significance for elected officials during election campaigns. Citizens are in the process of making a choice about which candidates to trust and support with their votes, their time as volunteers, and their money as donors. Yet polling shows decreasing levels of trust in public officials.

Indeed, with the extensive amount of political deception uncovered regularly by credible fact-checking, citizens are right to feel skeptical. How can they tell apart candidates for office who spout bald-faced lies from those who actually tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? After all, the liars will lie about lying, right? You might be the most honest person in the world, but if other people can’t tell that, your honesty won’t make any difference.

Here is where taking the PTP sets you as a candidate apart from the competition. Here’s a nutshell description of the Pro-Truth Pledge to share with your potential supporters: it’s a public commitment to truthful behaviors. The PTP is for anyone, private citizens and public figures alike. However, public figures are held accountable for their statements. Tell them that anyone at any time can report on the pledge website any violation of the pledge, and it will be thoroughly investigated. Therefore, your potential constituents can trust you to stick to the facts, not only because you promise them you are truthful – any politician can do that – but also because you are held accountable.

We find it helps to use the metaphor of the pledge as the Better Business Bureau for public figures: just like the BBB holds businesses accountable to ethical business practices, the PTP holds public figures accountable for truthfulness in their public statements. Similarly, just like anyone can lodge a complaint to the BBB and a business will have to respond to a legitimate complaint, anyone can lodge a complaint to the PTP. If after initial investigation the PTP evaluators consider the complaint legitimate, the public figure will be asked to respond.

We find that it really helps candidates not simply to share that they took the pledge, but also call on their supporters to do so. For instance, see this post by Rob Sand, candidate for Iowa State Auditor.

 

This proved to be one of the most popular posts on his page around that time. His posts typically get under a 100 Facebook “reactions” and less than a dozen shares. This one got many more. Furthermore, the people who took the pledge at Rob’s request were more likely to volunteer for and donate to Rob, due to this sense of shared affiliation and commitment.

 

You get a particular advantage if some of the candidates you are competing with for elected office have not taken the pledge. This gives you a great opportunity to differentiate yourself by highlighting how you chose to be publicly accountable to the truth, and your opponents are refusing to do so. You can ask why your opponents do not want to be held accountable for the truth. This can be phrased with different levels of intensity, from “I have chosen to be held accountable for the truth, unlike my opponents” to “unlike my opponents, I have chosen to be held accountable for the truth, and do not have anything to hide or lie about.” We suggest you use the more intense wording in cases where you can demonstrate they have something to hide about or are indeed lying about something. Point out how anyone can say they’re trustworthy and not lying, but the pledge allows voters to tell apart the ones who are truthful from the ones who are not, because the pledge-takers are actually held accountable for their words. Talk about not being afraid to be held accountable, and being glad to change your mind based on new information, unlike your opponents. Talk about not being beholden to special interests and running a race where you truly represent the people: thus you don’t need to talk out of both sides of your mouth, one to special interests and one to regular voters, and manipulating voters with deceptive statements.

The more you talk about PTP, the more impactful it is for you. On the one hand, it gets your existing supporters more excited: they can be proud of the candidate they support making this strong public commitment. On the other, it can help sway those who are skeptical and on the fence, since they know that they can trust you more than other candidates in a race. It helps to encourage your supporters to go themselves sign the pledge and call on all of their elected representatives to do so: they will then have more buy-in into the pledge, and thus into your campaign. We find that supporters especially appreciate seeing candidates do retractions or clarifications while mentioning the pledge, and express pride over doing so: it helps them see your integrity in action. Finally, when you talk to the media, at opportune moments bring up how you took the PTP as a way of showing your public commitment to truthfulness. Journalists tend to be savvy, and they will take the time to check out the website and see the credible nature of the PTP initiative.

Candidates often ask us about what to do if they get accused of violating the pledge. It’s key to recognize that the behaviors in the PTP are about making an earnest effort, and people on different sides of the political divide – especially those who support your opponent in the race – will generally have different interpretations of “earnest effort.” This is why we have a clear statement of what constitutes a violation of the pledge: “anything that conveys information in an obviously deceptive way that leads audiences to have a fundamentally wrong impression of the truth in any given matter.” So if you have anyone accusing you of sharing misinformation in an unfair way, and you don’t think you violated the pledge, you can provide them with a link to this blog to inform them about what makes for a violation. If they continue to insist that you violated the pledge, you can let them know that they can report a violation of the pledge at this link. The pledge organizers will evaluate all complaints fairly and thoroughly.

Let’s talk about an example of how a candidate implements the pledge. Johny Martin is a candidate running for the Arizona House of Representatives. He wrote up a values statement about why he took the Pro-Truth Pledge, and created a graphic on his website describing himself as a “Pro-Truth Candidate” and asking potential constituents to hold him accountable.

Caption: Screenshot of Johny Martin’s website where he asks potential supporters to hold him accountable (Courtesy of Johny Martin)

He takes the pledge very seriously. For example, when he made a mis-statement during a public event, he posted on Facebook later retracting the mis-statement, and citing the pledge.

He got a lot of love for doing so: in general, supporters of candidates who took the pledge strongly support them when they do retractions.

 

Moreover, on the home page of his website, he also challenged his opponents in the race to take the Pro-Truth Pledge. He gave his supporters an easy automatic way to email his opponents challenging them to take the pledge right from his website.

Caption: Screenshot of Johny Martin’s website where he asks potential supporters to call on all candidates for the Arizona house race take the pledge (Courtesy of Johny Martin)

Likewise, Martin promotes on social media the fact that he took the pledge, and makes clear that his opponents failed to do so.

Caption: Screenshot of Johny Martin’s Tweet where he highlights that he is the only candidate in his Arizona house race who took the pledge (Courtesy of Johny Martin)

 

Think that such Tweets and other calling out won’t work? Well, you might be surprised that many candidates for office found calling out their opponents quite effective! For example, consider Justin Vold, a candidate for Minnesota State Legislature. He was running against a well-established incumbent member of the Minnesota State Legislature, Dean Urdahl. Vold tweeted at Urdahl challenging him to take the pledge, and Urdahl responded! Now, Vold can hold Urdahl accountable for Urdahl’s statements, and vice versa. What a great outcome, especially when a challenger takes on a well-established incumbent.

 

Caption: Screenshot of Justin Vold’s tweet that he took the pledge and calls on his opponent in the race to take the pledge, and his opponent responding by taking the pledge (Twitter link)

 

You can also make a video about yourself taking the Pro-Truth Pledge. For example, Member of US Congress Beto O’Rourke made a Facebook Live video about himself taking the pledge. Doing so is a great way to connect with your constituents, and you can then download the video from Facebook and post it on Youtube for easy access by media.

 

That kind of approach to the pledge – combining being public about taking it, retracting mis-statements publicly, and challenging opponents to take the pledge – helps candidates gain the appropriate recognition for their truthful behavior, differentiates them from opponents who have chosen to avoid this commitment, while also advancing the fight against fake news and political deception through spreading word about the pledge.

Pro-Truth Pledge activists around the country help spread the message about candidates who have taken the pledge and those who have not in a variety of ways, such as letters to the editor like this one, or op-eds like this one. We also have many media professionals around the country sympathetic to our endeavors, and we work with them to help them publish pieces like this one uplifting candidates who have taken the pledge. Shortly before an election, we send out a message to all private citizens who signed the pledge in your area informing them of which candidates signed the pledge, and which failed to do so. We have a host of other ways of boosting the message about which candidates have committed to truthful behavior. In many cases, there will be a local pledge chapter that can help with boosting your message and supporting your candidacy. Get in touch with the Pro-Truth Pledge central coordinators through info [at] protruthpledge [dot] org, and they will get you in touch with a local area organizer if one is in your area.

However, the more the candidates can do themselves, the better off their chances. Politicians across the country have effectively used this strategy to uplift the cause of truth, along with their own candidacy. The more they talk about this topic, the more credibility and trust they get among potential voters, and the more they can show that their competitors do not deserve trust among voters. For example, see in this article how Melissa Manrow, at the time a candidate for the Decatur City Commission, talked up the fact that she took the PTP.

Conclusion

Following the strategies outlined above will enable you to be get the maximum benefit both for your own reputation as a truth-teller and for promoting truth and fighting lies in our society. Let us know what your experience is like and what questions you have!

Pitching Public Figures and Organizations on the Pro-Truth Pledge

Caption: Image of megaphone (OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay)

Took the Pro-Truth Pledge and want to get public figures and organizations to take it? Good plan! Let’s get it going.

Preparing to Pitch

First, check out the list of public figures and organizations who already signed the pledge. No need to do double work pitching those who already took it. You can also use that list for some inspiration of who you would like to target.

Next, decide on your goals in targeting public figures and organizations. Say your goal is to make the biggest impact with your personal efforts. Then, you should start by targeting those with whom you have a pre-existing affiliation and on whom you can make the biggest impact.

For example, you may have a strong connection with leaders of your values-based groups: church, synagogue, Sunday Assembly, secular humanist group, and others. You can talk to them individually and encourage them to take the pledge on the basis of your shared values. For getting political candidates, members of your town council or city mayor may have relatively few constituents, making your individual voice important. Likewise, candidates in the early stage of their run for a seat are most in need of support from individuals. In both cases, a simple and direct request to them to take the pledge can make a big difference. For instance, Duff Dyer went to a political event with a number of candidates, and got two to sign up on the spot.

The same applies to organizations of which you are a part, either in professional or civic life. For example, Enrique Lescure took the Pro-Truth Pledge himself. Then, as the Board of Directors of the Earth Organisation for Sustainability, he worked internally to move the organization to take the pledge. Colleen Dempsey, who serves in a leadership role in the civic activism organization Yes We Can Columbus, similarly worked over the course of several months to get the organization to commit to the pledge. She was successful, with the outcome that this organization promised to support only those political candidates who took the pledge. The five candidates endorsed by the organization in the 2017 election cycle all took it as a group. You can pursue the same course with your own efforts.

Alternatively, you may choose a goal of addressing the very low level of trust that Americans have in the mass media. In that case, you might specifically target journalists, talk show hosts, and other media representatives for your pitching.

You can also decide that your goal is both to pitch public figures and organizations, while also building community with other Pro-Truth movement members. In that case, email info [at] protruthpledge [dot] org to get connected to other people in your area focused on pitching. You can also request to be connected to the PTP Targeting Committee, the central committee within the Pro-Truth movement devoted to such pitching. It collaborates virtually with members across the globe, so you can participate from anywhere without leaving your home.

Research

If you decide to do pitching as part of a broader group, then you will discuss with them what tasks you want to focus on as part of a team effort. If so, you can pick out various strategies described in this blog as part of your work. However, note that the rest of this blog will presume you are doing pitching by yourself.

The first thing to do is conduct research on the public figures and organizations you want to target. Generally speaking, your target should be an individual, not an organization: even if you want to get an organization or group to commit to the pledge, you would want to target individuals within it first. You can consider either a non-public figure in the organization who is sympathetic to your goals, or a public figure such as an organizational leader. Find the contact information for the public figure you want to target, whether it’s a politician, journalist, or other public figure. Then, find out a bit of information about that figure that might be relevant to the pledge.

Do your research in an organized manner. For best results, use your computer, not phone, to conduct research if possible. Create a spreadsheet with a section for first and last name for the person you are targeting, their organizational affiliation, contact information, social media and online presence, notes on the person, and notes on your pitching. While some people prefer to use pen and paper for such research, there’s a good reason to use spreadsheets. You might end up sharing the spreadsheet later with others to target the same individual, and you don’t want to type these things up after you already wrote them out. Another good reason is that we provided this template spreadsheet for you to use: just click on “File” and then “Make a Copy” and you have a perfect spreadsheet for yourself to use for doing research.

What about the process of doing research? Google is always your friend, but make sure to check social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well.

While there’s no single way to find all public figures, there’s a standardized way to find politicians. To find your own elected representatives – if you’re a US citizen – go to this link, put in your address, and you will see most of your elected representatives. More broadly, for US federal elected officials (Senators and House of Representatives members), click on this link. Then, scroll down just a bit, and on the bottom left, you will see a drop-down menu in the bottom that says “Enter state or zip” enter your state (we strongly recommend writing to everyone in your state, not simply your own congressperson), or your zip if you only want to contact your elected representatives. If you enter your state, you will see your state’s page with a menu on the top. Click on the second button from the left on the menu, which states “Delegation.” Now, you can click on each individual person, and find that person’s email/contact page, Facebook, and Twitter. For contacting members of your state legislature and local officials, check out the directions at this link.

Here’s a nice way to rocket-boost your research if you’re looking for the contact information of candidates for office in a specific state in the US, which also applies to some other countries that have public records request laws. Two months after the filing deadline for candidates for office, look on the website of the relevant office in your state that manages elections. In most states, it’s the Secretary of State. The crucial thing for you to find will be their names and emails. In many cases, the names emails will be available publicly on the website in the section called “candidate filings.” Here are two distinct video guidelines to getting candidate information, and the second video also shows you how to use Outlook to send them an email encouraging them to take the pledge.

 

 

 

At this link is a template Google Docs spreadsheet you can use for this information. Just click “File” in the top left, and then “Make a Copy” and you will be all set.

 

Sometimes, the information will not be available online easily. In that case, you can make a public records request (also known as a freedom of information or FOIA request) from the state government office that regulates elections, usually the Secretary of State. Email and/or call the Secretary of State office or the appropriate other government office and ask for specific instructions for making the request: this process varies widely by state. You can also look online for directions for the process. For states where you can’t easily find email, do a public records request . Just Google the following (without quotation marks) for directions on how to do one:

  • [state name] public records request
  • [state name] freedom of information request

Give yourself a month to get this information, as the wheels of bureaucracy often move slowly. For example in Ohio, our volunteer Duff Dyer made several calls, weeding his way through the bureaucracy until he finally got the name and eventually phone number and email address for the person who actually fulfills the public records request. Then, call the person to ask for the names and emails of candidates for office. If the person says the information is not available yet, follow up later. As a result of doing so, Duff secured a list of 1200 candidates for office, including 550 emails. Then, you can use the email merge function to send them our template email pitch for officials, customized with their names. You can also send a customized email for the candidates in a certain region, such as this template for Ohio.

Finally, if you are part of a group of people in your locale researching public figures and organizations to pitch, make a Google Form such as this one made by the Ohio PTP Advocates group (directions on Google Forms here). Such Google Forms help coordinate the research of multiple people together, and because they can see what has already been found, they won’t research the same thing. Very handy! Then, you can have a point person in charge of communicating about prospects to pitch to people who engage in pitching. That way, you can divide the research and pitching activities into separate roles. Such division allows people who are more introverted and research-oriented to do research, and people who are more extroverted to do pitching.

Now, let me be clear: this is in no way an absolute divide. Most people who are part of the Pro-Truth movement tend to be more introverted than extroverted. Despite being quite introverted myself, I do a lot of pitching. It’s just about what is easier to do for people. For example, while I can do pitching, it’s easier for me to do writing: that’s the biggest impact I can personally make. For other people, writing is not their strength. So if you are in an organizing role and can make things easier for people by playing to their strengths, do so. Still, I know that there are people who specifically want to stretch themselves and expand their comfort zone: for example, I remember a PTP Advocate telling me he came out of his shell through PTP activism that included pitching public figures. So if people want to expand their comfort zone, support them in doing so!

Pro tip for organizers: set up reminder systems for people who are doing research and also those doing pitching. There are a number of people who commit to doing these activities, and then life gets in the way. It’s not that they don’t want to do them, it’s simply that when their attention is not on this topic, they forget to do it. People have different personalities, and those who are in organizer positions generally are well organized themselves. Help others be their best selves by sending them reminders to conduct the PTP activites they said they want to do! You can use organizing systems such as Trello to help organize your own activities, and scheduling reminders such as Gmelius to send recurring emails to others, or FollowUpThen, which offers a reminder service for yourself and others. Remember, you ARE NOT imposing on their time by reminding them to do these tasks, you are simply supporting them in achieving goals they said they want to achieve.

Pitching

Ok, you did your research, and are ready to pitch. How do you do it?

Easy! We have a wide variety of pitches prepared in this Google Drive folder for you to use. When you contact someone, use all the communication methods you have been able to find.

For example, say you are pitching a politician. First, check out these guidelines for doing so, which give directions for how to research and pitch politicians. If you find their email, which is ideal, send them a message adapted from this template, and for contact form only, this template. Then, for their Facebook page, send them a message using this template, and then for their Twitter, tweet them a message using this template. You can adapt each of these to indicate you are a constituent if relevant and other adaptation that you would like, for instance relating to specific issues you are concerned, or a speech or public statement made by a politician. Don’t feel like you have to be a constituent to contact a politician, of course, though it helps.

When pitching a generic public figure, here’s an email template, and a contact form template. Media figures often share their emails, so here’s an email template for media figures. So do academics, and here’s an email template to use for them. Use this template for the Facebook Page of generic public figures, and this template for Twitter.

Let’s talk more about pitching on social media. Twitter is a highly useful venue for this regard, as it’s the most public forum available. You can tweet to any politician or other public figure “.@[twitter handle] please take #ProTruthPledge at ProTruthPledge.org to fight #fakenews and #alternativefacts @ProTruthPledge” or an adapted version of this message. Keep those hashtags, they are valuable for drawing attention to your message. You can, for example, send a tweet a day to someone from this Twitter list of US congressmembers, or this list of NBC correspondents, and also find lists of your own. Consider finding a list of reporters for your local paper or TV channel, or your local politicians, and tweeting them.

Facebook is also useful, though less so, since it is not as publicly visible. There, what you would want to do is go to the pages of politicians such as from this list, or media such as from this list. Then, send them a message, saying something like “@ please take #ProTruthPledge at ProTruthPledge.org to fight #fakenews and protect #truth and #facts” and also post this in a comment on their pinned post or latest post.

The same strategies apply to organizations and public figures on LinkedIn, as well as all other social media.

If you are in the US, you have an additional tool for you to help you get your elected representatives to commit to truth via the Pro-Truth Pledge. Go to this link and put in your US address. You will get a menu with (almost) all of your elected representatives, from local to national, and the number of pledge-takers per elected representative.

Those that have easily-available Twitter accounts will have a blue “Twitter” button above and to the right of their picture. When you click on that button, you will send to each one this message: “I took the #ProTruthPledge at https://ProTruthPledge.org/ because I value #truth and #facts and I ask my representative @ [twitter handle] join me in taking @ProTruthPledge and showing that #TruthMatters and #FactsMatter to them.” Here’s an example of how it looks.

It takes 5 seconds (literally, not figuratively) to send a tweet to each. So take 5 minutes to tweet to all of them, and repeat the same 5 minute tweeting per week. You can easily set up a Twitter account if you don’t have one. Make your voice heard and make a difference – Tweet for Truth now!

We know these strategies work: a number of public figures have been convinced to take the pledge through reaching out to them on social media. For example, one of our volunteers has described how whenever anyone invites him to “like” a Facebook page from a politician, he asks whether that individual have taken the pledge. After a couple of exchanges back and forth, where he explains the pledge and follows up, about a quarter end up taking the pledge. Imagine what would happen if a quarter of all the politicians whose Facebook pages you were invited to like end up taking the pledge!

Now, you can also meet and pitch public figures in person. For non-politicians, use the script informed by the email templates. For elected officials or candidates, along with using the script, we also recommend bringing along the information of all the people who have signed the Pro-Truth Pledge in that politician’s region if it’s a regional politician, or country if it’s a national-level politician, since part of signing the pledge involves calling on one’s elected representatives to sign the pledge. We make that information available only for people who are area organizers or members of the PTP Targeting Committee, for the sake of data security, so if you are one of these people, get in touch with one of your contacts from the PTP Central Coordination Committee for that information. Ideally, you would also bring along a PTP sign-up binder with some sample signatures, or at least photos of signatures. The binder provides demonstrable proof that signatures were gathered, while the spreadsheet provides the total number of actual signatures.

Note that politicians – or their staff, who you will likely be talking to if it’s a high-level political figure – will likely want you to leave them with some physical presence of the number of people who signed the PTP. What you can do is print out a photograph of one page of a sign-up sheet, as physical proof of signature-gathering, along with printing out the spreadsheet with all the names of the people who signed the PTP in that region or country. You can then leave it with the politician or their staff, along with a flyer with the text of the PTP.

It’s especially good to approach politicians during a candidate’s forum or listening session, as these are specifically designated times for politicians to meet constituents. There, you can ask them publicly in the Q&A about whether they would be willing to take the pledge, and mention that you contacted them before. If you can get someone to videotape you, it’s especially helpful, as in this video that you can use as a guide.

Then for each public figure you contact, fill out this form, and in the “Any relevant notes,” note that you have contacted this person. That way, we can keep a clear track record of the politicians who are contacted, and circle back around to them later, referencing the first contact. It’s really important and helpful to do so in order to ensure successful pitches, so please do help us out on this one!

Caption: Meme saying “Help a brother out” (Created by blog author via Memecrunch.com)

Following Up, Filling Out

Set yourself a reminder to follow up in two weeks to check whether they received your communication. Public figures have a lot of people contacting them, and they may lose track of individual contact efforts. If you hear nothing within two weeks, send them an email or contact form saying something like “Dear [first name, last name], wanted to confirm you received my previous email/contact form message about the Pro-Truth Pledge. Thanks!” Now set yourself a reminder to follow up in a week. If they don’t respond, and you have their voicemail, give them a call and leave a voicemail asking if they received your message. If still no response, let it go.

Now, if you hear back from the public figure and they want more information, great! That means they’re interested. They are usually too busy to look through the Frequently Asked Questions, and will likely have misconceptions. So use the FAQs on the front page of the website to address their questions. If you’re not sure about something, email info [at] protruthpledge [dot] org to clarify any point of confusion.

Sometimes, the public figure will agree to take the pledge, but be too busy to put in their information themselves. Some others are not computer-savvy. They will tell you to just add their name to the pledge. No problem: use their publicly available information to fill out the pledge for them. Make sure they did indicate a definite desire to take the pledge, versus just saying “oh, this pledge thing sounds like a good idea, people should take it.” If you’re not sure, double-check with them whether they’re ok with you putting in their name. Better safe than sorry!

If they do agree, and take the pledge, remind them of the next steps to fill out their profile. Encourage them to get the full benefit of being recognized as publicly committing to truth-oriented behaviors. To do so, remind them to post on Facebook and on Twitter about taking the pledge. Next, encourage them to add the Pro-Truth Pledge website badge to their website as Peter Singer did on his website. Suggest they add this Facebook Frame to their Facebook personal profile and their Facebook oage, and this Twibbon to their Twitter profile (remind them to mark the Facebook Frame as “permanent” as the main point of the frame is to show others that they took the pledge and are comfortable being held publicly accountable for their words: if they want to use other frames, they can use them on top of or in addition to the Pro-Truth Pledge frame). Also, please encourage them to add the following statement to the “About” section of their Facebook page: “I have taken the Pro-Truth Pledge ProTruthPledge.org: please hold me accountable,“ and the same statement to the “About” section of your personal Facebook profile, and the same statement to their LinkedIn account.

Check to make sure they filled in their full profile on the Pro-Truth Pledge public figures and organizations page. Remind them that people who provide a paragraph about why they took the pledge, their photograph, and links to their online venues – websites, social media, articles about them, etc. – get quite a bit more traffic from the page. They can send their additional information to email info [at] protruthpledge [dot].

Let them know that to learn more about the Pro-Truth Pledge and the nonprofit that runs it, Intentional Insights, they are welcomed to read this link with information about it. To get involved with the Pro-Truth Pledge community, they can join this Facebook group for Intentional Insights as a whole, dedicated to promotion of truth and rational thinking in politics and other life areas. We also welcome them to join this Facebook group for Global Pro-Truth Pledge-oriented activities. Anything that has to do with the pledge specifcally and directly is best for the Pro-Truth Pledge advocates FB group. The Intentional Insights broad group is for content related to truth and rational thinking, in politics and other life areas. The Facebook group for Global Pro-Truth Pledge-oriented activities also has links out to local groups which they might be interested in joining in their area. We find that a number of public figures like to get involved in such online venues.

Be gentle but persistent about these steps unless they state they do not want to do something: back off at that point. Much of the time, we find that public figures do eventually take these steps, they just need a lot of reminders. They are busy people, so help them make a bigger impact for truth-oriented behavior through reminding them to take all of these steps. Each of these steps is optimized to both encourage the public figure to be more truth-oriented themselves through increasing their commitment to the pledge, and for the public figure to spread truth-oriented behavior through spreading information about the pledge.

At a later point in time, circle back with them about their experience with the pledge. If they had a good experience, encourage them to tell other public figures to take the pledge. For example, Randy Grein, a politician, took the PTP and put the website seal on his website, as well as adding the Facebook Frame to his profile. In a Facebook conversation with me, he told me “People have been noticing. And it’s helping with the campaign. Which is as it should be, but still surprising that people value honesty.” I responded “Wonderful to hear that people are noticing and it’s helping the campaign, great! Glad to hear it. Spread word to other political candidates about it too, encourage them to take it.”

Caption: Screenshot of author’s conversation with Randy Grein (Courtesy of blog author)

Now, if you pitched a public figure who is in an organization, you will want to follow up later and encourage the public figure to move the whole organization to take the pledge.

That’s our experience on effective methods of pitching public figures and following up. What’s your experience like, and what questions do you have?

Public Speaking About the Pro-Truth Pledge

Caption: Agnes Vishnevkin speaking at a rally about the Pro-Truth Pledge (Courtesy of Agnes Vishnevkin)

Are you interested in doing public speaking about the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP)? Doing so is a very effective means of spreading the word and getting people to sign up.So what’s actually involved in public speaking about the pledge?

Preparation for Public Speaking

Giving a speech about the pledge requires being prepared. Such preparation involves both developing skills and mental comfort in giving speeches, specific content knowledge about the pledge, and the actual materials for your speech.

To develop skills and mental comfort requires practice. The biggest stumbling block to getting such practice stems from anxiety about public speaking. Fortunately, there are many effective techniques to address speaking anxiety that I describe in this article.

After overcoming anxiety, and doing some practice, you can go on to give presentations. If you’ve never given a public speech in your life, you can start speaking to a room of 10 to 20 people, to build up your comfort zone. There are many low-stakes venues eager to host speakers on the Pro-Truth Pledge. Then, you can go on to larger and more high-profile venues.

What about specific content knowledge? Being familiar with the pledge and the Frequently Asked Questions, which are on the homepage of the website, is important. So is familiarity with the broader Pro-Truth movement, as described in this outline.

Finally, the speech itself. Different audiences require different speeches, and we have all kinds of materials you might need to prepare your speech in the public Google Drive folder. You might be asked to give a rally speech, and you can use these three examples of videotaped speeches (1, 2, 3), and this text of a speech. You might be asked to give a virtual presentation, as in this videotaped example and this PowerPoint Presentation. Perhaps you will be giving a presentation at a service club, such as Rotary International: here’s a PowerPoint used at one such presentation. Use the materials in that folder to adapt the speech to your audience.

Research Speaking Opportunities

Ok, you feel reasonably ready. Now what?

Now, find speaking opportunities! Look first for low-stakes opportunities in communities and organizations of which you are a part. Are you a member of a Toastmasters group? Do you belong to a values-based community? Do you have an active community in your apartment building co-op or neighborhood? What about a learning group at work? Offer to give them a speech about the pledge! The comfort of presenting to that audience will help you stretch and grow.

Next, easy opportunities to speak on the Pro-Truth Pledge are at local political clubs. For example, there are many political party clubs: Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Green, and others. Many areas have political actions groups not tied to a party, but just promoting various causes or simply civic activism or voter rights. Service clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, and others have a need for speakers every week or so. Senior centers regularly host speakers. So do science and philosophy clubs, and libraries do as well. Some values-based groups welcome outside speakers, especially if you belong to that value system. So if you happen to be Episcopalian and there are several Episcopal churches in town, or where you are travelling, try to arrange a presentation there. Some values-based groups such as secular humanist groups or Unitarian Universalist churches are quite open to speakers outside their values system, so investigate those in particular.

To find these places, Google is your friend. Here is the result for a search “senior centers near me” in Google without quotation marks; here is the result for “service clubs near me,” also without quotation marks; here is the result for “political clubs near me,” same deal about quotation marks. Another friend is Meetup.com: use it to look for meetups relevant to politics and social activism. The category “movement” meetups, as in this link, can prove useful. See if an established meetup wants you to give a talk.

Do your research in an organized manner. For best results, use your computer, not phone, to conduct research if possible. Create a spreadsheet with a section for the name of the organization offering the speaking opportunity; the name and contact information, ideally including both phone and email, of the person(s) in charge of selecting speakers for the speaking opportunity; brief description of the speaking opportunity itself; likely audience; why the opportunity would be a good fit for the PTP; links relevant to the speaking opportunity (the more, the better); description of interactions with person(s) selecting speakers; finally, general notes.

While some people prefer to use pen and paper for such research, there’s a good reason to use spreadsheets. You might end up sharing the spreadsheet later with others to help them do speaking in this area, and you don’t want to type these things up after you already wrote them out. Another good reason is that we provided this template spreadsheet for you to use: just click on “File” and then “Make a Copy” and you have a perfect spreadsheet for yourself to use for doing research.

A part of doing research is evaluating whether a particular venue is actually interested in a speech about the PTP. Here is a generic template pitch you can send, and here is a template targeting a local area event. Adapt it to your own needs and the specifics of the venue. For example, if you are targeting a science club, emphasize the behavioral science nature of the pledge. If you are targeting a service club, talk about the positive social impact of creating a more truth-oriented world, and for Rotary clubs in particular, describe how the Pro-Truth Pledge aligns with the Rotary Four-Way Test.

If you are part of a group of people in your locale researching public speaking events, make a Google Form such as this one made by the Ohio PTP Advocates group (directions on Google Forms here). Such Google Forms help coordinate the research of multiple people together, and because they can see what has already been found, they won’t research the same thing. Very handy! Then, you can have a point person in charge of communicating about events to people who engage in public speaking. That way, you can divide the research from other aspects of public speaking. Such division allows people who are more introverted and research-oriented to do research, and people who are more extroverted to do public speaking.

Now, let me be clear: this is in no way an absolute divide. Most people who are part of the Pro-Truth movement tend to be more introverted than extroverted. Despite being quite introverted myself, I do a lot of social activities. It’s just about what is easier to do for people. For example, while I can do public speaking, it’s easier for me to do writing: that’s the biggest impact I can personally make. For other people, writing is not their strength. So if you are in an organizing role and can make things easier for people by playing to their strengths, do so. Still, I know that there are people who specifically want to stretch themselves and expand their comfort zone: for example, I know one PTP Advocate who is doing public speaking in part because he wants to improve his skills in this arena. So if people want to expand their comfort zone, support them in doing so!

Likewise, consider a division of responsibilities in doing pitching. If you have several speakers in the area, let one pitch a few places, and someone else pitch a few others. Then, from the places they don’t hear back, let another person pitch it. Sometimes, it’s the presenter more than the content that matters. For example, a service club might be more interested in a presentation from a business professional than a political activist, while a political club might have the opposite preference. You can also have a specific person doing pitching of several speakers to a single venue: for example, I pitched a Rotary club in Columbus with the option of either a professor or a business professional doing a speech on the PTP, and they chose the latter.

Pro tip for organizers: set up reminder systems for people who are doing research, pitching, and speaking. There are a number of people who commit to doing these activities, and then life gets in the way. It’s not that they don’t want to do research, pitching, or speaking, it’s simply that when their attention is not on this topic, they forget to do it. People have different personalities, and those who are in organizer positions generally are well organized themselves. Help others be their best selves by sending them reminders to conduct what they said they want to do! You can use organizing systems such as Trello to help organize your own activities, and scheduling reminders such as Gmelius to send recurring emails to others, or FollowUpThen, which offers a reminder service for yourself and others. Remember, you ARE NOT imposing on their time by reminding them to do these tasks, you are simply supporting them in achieving goals they said they want to achieve.

Gearing up for the Speech

Your pitch worked: someone wants you to speak about the Pro-Truth Pledge! What do you do now?

At this point, figure out the logistics. Send them well in advance all the materials they will need for marketing, which will likely involve a brief description of the speech, your bio, and how you want to be introduced at the speech itself. Get clarity on when the event is, how long in advance you should arrive, whether they or you will provide the equipment and handouts. Ask for accurate directions to the event, both getting there and parking, and how to get from the parking lot to the event, and also get the event planner’s emergency contact number. Try to get them to videotape you if at all possible.

You might be working with an excellent event planner who will ask you for everything in advance and give you all the information you need, or an inexperienced one who is just starting their job and will require a lot of hand-holding from you. Make sure you are ready to provide that hand-holding: it’s your job to make sure the speech goes as well as possible as opposed to just leaving it all in the hands of the event planner. So jump in and guide the event planner if you don’t get the things you need in advance.

Then, use the strategies described above to adapt your speech to the venue. After that, practice the speech several times until you are very comfortable with it. Also, consider what kind of questions you might get if the event involves a Q&A session. Here’s a videotaped virtual Q&A about the pledge that you can use to get ideas for the kind of questions people raise, and you can also watch the Q&A at the end of this videotaped presentation. Practice answering such questions.

Here’s a pro tip: if you have a short speech scheduled, such as 10 to 20 minutes, followed by a Q&A, you can choose to avoid covering some topics in the speech and say you will leave them for the Q&A. For instance, you can say in your speech that “the Pro-Truth Pledge has a thorough system of holding public figures and organizations accountable, and if anyone is interested in knowing more about how it works, ask me in the Q&A.” That way, you can get the kind of questions you want in that time. Another pro tip: get other PTP Advocates to gather signatures, especially if it’s a sizable audience. It gives the PTP extra legitimacy to have more than one person representing it.

The Day Before the Speech

The day before the speech, make sure to get a lot of rest. Prepare all of your materials the day beforehand. Know what you will wear: aim to wear something that is slightly above the level you expect your audience to wear. For instance, if you expect they will wear dressy casual, wear business casual. If it’s appropriate to do so, wear a PTP shirt, such as I did at this rally: political clubs and groups, as well as any sort of rally event, is generally the right place to do so.

Prepare and take any equipment that you might need. If you are going to be using a PowerPoint Presentation, take extra equipment just in case, such as your laptop, a charging cable and extension for your laptop, a VGA cable to connect the laptop to their projector and a dongle if your laptop needs it, a remote control for changing slides and batteries for the remote control, and small speakers if you will use sound. The organization hosting you might say they will provide any or all of these, but it’s really better safe than sorry: rely on yourself first and foremost.

Put in an audiorecorder app on your smartphone and know how to use it. Generally the quality of audio on video recordings is poor, unless you have a separate mike devoted solely to recording you for the video. This is why a separate audio recording is needed to make a quality video.

Get ready any personal items that you might need. Take a full bottle of water, both to have before the speech, and top it off to drink during the speech. Grab some high-energy food such as nuts or protein bars: even if they offer to feed you, their food might not be to your liking. If you wear glasses, bring an extra pair, just in case. Bring some meds for headache, stomach pain, and anything else that might be salient. Lip balm, throat lozenges and mints, hairbrush, skin moisturizer, tissues, lint brush, deodorant, and other personal hygiene items particular to your needs are also helpful. I generally don’t bring a hairbrush, for example, as I wear a very short haircut, but I do bring along anti-anxiety medications as I suffer from social anxiety: adapt these suggestions to your needs.

For materials to take to the speech, make sure to take your notes, if you have any. If you are speaking to a professional audience, bring along some PTP business cards to give away to audience members interested in materials to hand out to others who they think might be interested. If you are speaking in a non-professional context, bring along some PTP fliers for the same purpose.

When you are giving a speech in a context where there is no long Q&A (15 minutes or more) at the end and/or the audience is large, make sure to bring along one-page PTP descriptions and sign-up sheets, enough for each audience member. Collect them afterwards, and scan or take photos of each, and send them to info [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org. If you have a guarantee of a Q&A that is longer than 15 minutes, and the audience is less than 30, you can use a PTP binder or clipboard and pass it around to gather signatures during the Q&A. This link provides all the instructions you will need to create a PTP binder, and all the materials for the binder are at this link. If you are just using a clipboard, here is a PTP sign-up sheet. Print all of these materials out ahead of time. Don’t rely on the venue to have them ready if you can do it yourself.

DO NOT assume that people will go to the website after you gave your speech. Our experience is that even after a great speech, people get distracted and forget their good intention to sign up. It’s like asking them to sign up to a newsletter without giving them a sign-up sheet on the spot: they are very unlikely to sign up later. If circumstances conspire against you and there is no way you can bring a sign-up sheet, have a 1-minute pause after the end of your speech and before the Q&A to give people time to sign up on their smart phones. If you have no Q&A, build a pause into your speech for them to sign up.

The Main Event: Giving the Speech

On the day of the speech, arrive to your venue early. If you don’t have electronics, arrive 30-45 minutes early. If you do have electronics, arrive 45-60 minutes early. The bigger the audience, the earlier you should arrive.

First thing to do is meet the local organizer(s) of the talk, and the technician(s). Be polite and friendly, and check whether they carried through on their commitments. If they forgot anything, do the magic trick of taking it out of your briefcase, or going back to your car for whatever is needed. Talk through the schedule of events if the program includes anything besides your speech. Double-check on the length of the talk and Q&A and the style of how the Q&A is usually moderated: I strongly recommend avoiding taking questions during the speech itself unless absolutely necessary. Make sure the person who will be introducing you has the correct text for the introduction. Work our a system to signal any problems during the presentation.

Prepare and set everything up to your needs and satisfaction. Test the audio, slides, Internet, and anything else you need. Make sure the podium is set up well for your needs. Walk the stage and get comfortable with it.

Then, take care of the audience. Adjust the room, such as lighting, curtains, seating, temperature, and other needs, to optimize audience impact and comfort during your talk. To help you do so, take a seat in different parts of the audience space, and see how it feels. Is there sunlight shining directly into the eyes of audience members that would distract them? Is the loudspeaker located too close to a section of the audience? Address these problems.

Put a copy of the one-page PTP descriptions and sign-up sheet on each chair, or deputize someone to do it for you. If you plan to pass a binder or clipboard, ask someone to do it at an appropriate signal from you. Check with the organizer on whether it’s common for people to leave between the talk and Q&A: if so, you’ll want to make sure to pass around the binder or clipboard, or ask people to sign the one-page PTP sign-up sheet, well in advance of when people usually start leaving.

If you are extroverted or simply have sufficient energy, greet people who come into the room. Chat to them about the topic of the presentation. You get extra brownie points if you work what they say into the speech, as in “Bob said he’s really concerned about the misinformation surrounding climate change” or “Susy’s really worried about all conservatives being painted with a broad brush as racist” and then leading into how that connects with the PTP. As someone who is introverted, I usually do mindfulness meditation before giving speeches, but do make sure to take some time to chat a bit with audience members. A few minutes before the speech, use the restroom (pro tip: if you’re already wearing a wireless microphone, turn off the sound). Do calming activities to get yourself ready. Turn on the audiorecorder on your phone.

Now, the speech. You’ve practiced it plenty of times already: this is game time. If you haven’t given many speeches before, you’re likely to be anxious. That will cause you to speak quickly. Don’t do that. The audience’s first impression is really important, so focus extra hard on getting those first couple of minutes right. Make yourself relatable to the audience by thanking them for coming, and by drawing a connection between who they are and the PTP. Then, deliver the speech. Keep an eye on the clock: I use my smartphone as a timer, or you might bring a separate timer device if you prefer. Also record your speech on your own smartphone, and hopefully the hosts will videotape you: you can also get another PTP advocate to videotape your speech.

The highlight of the speech should be the call to action, namely the request that they sign the PTP. Make it passionate and relatable. Share your own commitment to the PTP: why you did it, why you believe it matters, and why we need as many people to sign it as possible. Appeal to the identity of your audience, and show them how their own values should impel them to sign the pledge. Whip up enthusiasm around the promise of the Pro-Truth movement as a whole as you make the call to action, showing the audience the dangers of the current situation and the promise of a better future if the Pro-Truth Pledge becomes widespread.

During the Q&A, avoid back-and-forth discussions with audience members. Some may be skeptical, and your goal is not to convince the skeptics. You simply give them the information, and they can choose what to do with it. Avoid arguing: fortunately, you have the power of the stage. If they are insistent, you can tell them to take out their smartphone and look up the FAQs on the website, which have links to a number of articles about the pledge. You can also tell them that they can contact the PTP organizers through the website, who can answer their questions in more depth. If someone starts getting ornery, say “thanks for sharing your thoughts: does anyone else have questions” or something in that style. You would be missing out on important and valuable questions that people might have that might be preventing them from signing the pledge. By helping address their concerns, you are getting more people excited and eager to sign up.

After the speech and the Q&A, stay around. A number of people may be excited to talk to you, whether to get involved or talk further about the effectiveness of the pledge. Again, avoid talking to ornery people if there are others around who might be interested in the pledge. If you personally like a good argument, you can then talk to the ornery person, but remember you are under no obligation to do so. You just gave a speech: you deserve to relax! For those who are excited about getting involved, ask them if they’d like to help gather signatures or make a donation. If so, take their contact information, and give it to the local area organizer, or to someone from the PTP Central Coordination Committee. If they want to donate cash on the spot, you should write them a receipt.

At political clubs especially, you will have a substantial chance of running into public figures, such as politicians or reporters. Remember to ask them to provide you with a business card for the PTP central organizers to input their public information into the website. We will also follow up with them about a pledge statement they may want sent around to pledge-takers and hosted on the PTP Public Figures and Organizations page.

After you finish chatting – which you should do to the extend your energy level permits – gather up the one-page sign-up forms or binder/clipboard. Also, get the videotape of your session. Then, if the hosts asked you to attend a social event afterward, consider doing so, again based on your energy level.

Now Bring It Home

So you come home after the excitement of the speech. What next?

You might be thrilled to input the signatures you gathered into the PTP website. If so, great: here are the directions on doing so.

However, your skills and interests might be less in data entry than in other PTP areas. Worry not! We have volunteers who are excited about inputting people into the website. Just scan or take nice-quality photos of the signatures, and email them to info [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org.

Next, get your videotaped speech and the audio recording from your phone. Send the video and audio to info [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org and we will put it together for you and put it on the Youtube channel for Intentional Insights, and promote it via the PTP social media, unless you prefer us not to do so. If you only have an audio recording for some reason, send it in as well, and we will put it on the Intentional Insights podcast.

After you do all that, refill the supply of materials, such as one-page sign-up sheets and others, which you used up. Then, check your calendar for the next speaking opportunity and prepare everything you might need for that.

After the video is ready, watch your video and consider if you can make any improvements in your delivery next time. If you only have an audio recording for some reason, listen to yourself to try to improve. Get feedback from other speakers for the PTP on delivery improvement suggestions.

Let us know your experience and any questions you might have!

Financial Support for Pro-Truth Pledge Activities

Caption: Image of money in the shape of a heart (Petr Kratochvil/PublicDomainPictures.net)

You’re excited about doing Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP) activism but financial challenges are blocking your way? What if you’re a “broke-ass college student” as one PTP volunteer told me? No worries, we got you covered.

Generous donors for the PTP have offered to cover some basic costs of anyone interested in doing activism, but having financial difficulties hindering their volunteering efforts (no donations from the Koch brothers or George Soros as of yet). You can get up to $20 per month reimbursed for such costs as printing materials and purchasing and putting together a binder to help gather signatures, or getting PTP-themed business cards, and similar material costs.

Separately, you can get up to $20 for costs associated with participating in an event, such as gas, paying for parking, price of entry, and other costs when you are doing PTP activism: gathering signatures, giving a speech, . You can also get up to $20 for event-themed costs, such as making a PTP sign for visibility at an event such as a march or political rally.

If you can get a table at a promising community or political event, we can reimburse up to $100 for the table if you can commit to arranging for yourself or someone else to be present for at least three-fourths of the event (we trust you to pick relevant events). We will also reimburse up to $15 off the costs of PTP-themed merchandise, to ensure your visibility at events. We will consider other reimbursement requests on a case-by-case basis.

Caption: Ken Whitaker at the Hispanic Heritage Parade & Street Festival in Utah. A regular booth there costs $175, but a nonprofit one costs $100. Since the PTP is run by the nonprofit Intentional Insights, it cost $100 to get a booth there. The $100 was sponsored by PTP donors through the mechanism described in this blog (Courtesy of Ken Whitaker)

To get reimbursements, or consideration of case-by-case requests for funding, first email finance@intentionalinsights.org and describe your financial need: no need to provide documentation, just describe your situation in a paragraph, and get confirmation of approval. After that, just email finance@intentionalinsights.org with the receipt for the purchase of the materials/binder, parking or travel by Lyft/Uber/Taxi/public transport or approximate gas money, or the approximate cost of paper and ink if you are printing at home, and any other expenses in similarity to these. Also explain what you used this money to pay for, so we can keep a clear track of reasons for expenditures, and a scan or clear photographs of all the signatures you gathered.

Finally, please provide a PayPal account to which we can transfer the money (this is currently our only means of reimbursement – for setting up a PayPal account, which you can do with any credit or debit card, see this link). Ideally, you would let us know ahead of time, but after an event or expense is also fine as long as it falls within the categories described above: we will not be able to reimburse case-by-case requests after you made the purchase if you did not get prior approval. We trust all PTP advocates to avoid abusing this system (after all, you signed the Pro-Truth Pledge yourself), and only use this as needed per your financial difficulties arranging for these needs otherwise.

What can we help you clarify about the reimbursement process?

Signature-Gathering for the Pro-Truth Pledge

Caption: Ken Whitaker at the Hispanic Heritage Parade & Street Festival in Utah. A regular booth there costs $175, but a nonprofit one costs $100. The $100 was sponsored by PTP donors (Courtesy of Ken Whitaker)

Great to hear that you want to gather signatures for the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP)! In-person signature-gathering is one of the most effective methods of getting more people to sign up.

We regularly have people gather 20-40 signatures when they are doing canvassing, meaning gathering signatures while walking around an event or standing in a well-travelled venue. We have people gather 50-70 names when tabling, meaning when the PTP secures a table at an appropriate event. You can make a big difference by canvassing and tabling to fight lies and protect truth through promoting the PTP.

Preparing for Gathering Signatures

We have all the basic materials you need for gathering signatures.

Start by ordering some PTP merchandise, such as a shirt, hat, or tote bag, to make yourself visible and convey your message. Many people will see it and be impacted by it, checking out the PTP even if they don’t talk to you.

For example, Agnes Vishnevkin (the Vice President of Intentional Insights, the nonprofit organization leading the PTP project, and my wife) told me how when she went to a store carrying a PTP tote bag, she was approached by someone who wanted to know what the pledge was all about. If one person is bold enough to approach and ask, you better believe that dozens if not hundreds more took out their phone and went to the website!

Caption: PTP tote bag of the kind Agnes took to the store (Courtesy of Pro-Truth Pledge website)

It takes the merchandise a couple of weeks to arrive, but you certainly don’t have to wait for it to get there in order to start gathering signatures! So let’s talk about getting your paperwork in order. At this link is a Google Document folder with fliers, a sign-up form, the text of the PTP itself and the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and plenty of other materials, along with instructions to make a binder for people to sign the PTP.

The binder is really important, as it makes it very convenient for you to carry around everything you will need to get signatures. This link provides all the instructions you will need to create a PTP binder. The supplies include a white 3-ring binder (1” or 1.5”) with a clear cover and an inside pocket, dividers to separate the contents of the binder, and a 3-hole punch. You can get the supplies at any drug or office store near you. Then, the printed materials include flyers, the text of the PTP, the FAQs, sign-up sheets, and optionally business cards (which you can order using this link). If you don’t have a printer at home, use a local public library or copy/print store to print the supplies, and you can access a 3-hole punch in the same venue. In that case, print out several hundred flyers and fifty sign-up sheets at once to avoid having the extra hassle of going to the store again when you run out.

The binder provides you with the basics you will need to gather signatures when either canvassing or tabling. When canvassing, you’ll just walk around or stand in place, hand out flyers to people from your binder, and ask them to sign the pledge. When tabling, you will take out the flyers, the PTP text, the FAQs, the sign-up sheets, and if you have them business cards, and spread them out on a table. For tabling, you can also get two clipboards, as you will likely get more than one person interested at once, and you don’t want to make them wait. To come back to the tote bag, it’s pretty convenient for carrying your binder and clipboards.

Caption: Picture of PTP binder with clipboards for tabling (Courtesy of Agnes Vishnevkin)

Financial Challenges? No Problem!

Now what if you’re excited about gathering signatures, but have financial challenges purchasing merchandise, printing materials, and buying binders? What if you’re a “broke-ass college student” as one PTP volunteer told me? No worries, we got that covered.

Generous donors for the PTP have offered to cover the signature-gathering costs of anyone interested in gathering signatures, but having financial difficulties hindering their volunteering efforts (no donations from the Koch brothers or George Soros as of yet). You can get up to $20 per month reimbursed for such costs as printing materials and purchasing a binder. Separately, you can get up to $20 for costs associated with participating in an event, such as gas, paying for parking, price of entry. You can also get up to $20 for event-themed costs, such as making a PTP sign for visibility at an event such as a march or political rally.

If you can get a table at a promising community or political event, we can reimburse up to $100 for the table if you can commit to arranging for yourself or someone else to be present for at least three-fourths of the event (we trust you to pick relevant events). We will also reimburse up to $15 off the costs of PTP-themed merchandise, to ensure your visibility at events. We will consider other reimbursement requests on a case-by-case basis.

To get reimbursements, or consideration of case-by-case requests for funding, first email finance [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org and describe your financial need: no need to provide documentation, just describe your situation in a paragraph, and get confirmation of approval. After that, just email finance [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org with the receipt for the purchase of the materials/binder, parking or travel by Lyft/Uber/Taxi/public transport or approximate gas money, or the approximate cost of paper and ink if you are printing at home, and any other expenses in similarity to these. Also explain what you used this money to pay for, so we can keep a clear track of reasons for expenditures, and a scan or clear photographs of all the signatures you gathered.

Finally, please provide a PayPal account to which we can transfer the money (this is currently our only means of reimbursement – for setting up a PayPal account, which you can do with any credit or debit card, see this link). Ideally, you would let us know ahead of time, but after an event or expense is also fine as long as it falls within the categories described above: we will not be able to reimburse case-by-case requests after you made the purchase if you did not get prior approval. We trust all PTP advocates to avoid abusing this system (after all, you signed the Pro-Truth Pledge yourself), and only use this as needed per your financial difficulties arranging for these needs otherwise.

Researching Signature-Gathering Venues

So you’ve got your binder, and your PTP merchandise is on the way. Now what?

Now, it’s research time! Find promising political or community events, or a spot with heavy foot traffic. Do your research in an organized manner. For best results, use your computer, not phone, to conduct research if possible. Create a spreadsheet with a section for event date, name, links (Facebook event link, website link, and any other relevant links, the more the better), reasons for why this might be a good event for PTP signature gathering, likely audience, registration info (if relevant/available), notes on event organizer interaction, and any other general notes about the event. Use the same spreadsheet for spots with heavy foot traffic, just put good times to go to the spot for “event time,” such as “10-5 on weekdays, 1-5 on weekends” to indicate library hours. While some people prefer to use pen and paper for such research, there’s a good reason to use spreadsheets. You might end up sharing the spreadsheet later with others to help them do signature-gathering, and you don’t want to type these things up after you already wrote them out. Another good reason is that we provided this template spreadsheet for you to use: just click on “File” and then “Make a Copy” and you have a perfect spreadsheet for yourself to use for doing research.

For heavy foot traffic locations, many places will do. If you’re near a university or college, or a high school, there’s usually a number of central spots where people congregate. Library entrances, for public or college libraries, are another good spot. These tend to be the best venues, since people are usually in a mental state oriented toward ideas and education there. Another good spot might be a square or park where people are hanging out, and any other area where people congregate in a relaxed mood. Watch where other people gather signatures, as those are likely to be good places.

The nice thing about such spots is that you can go on your own time. You can do a half-hour of signature-gathering before work, take an extended lunch break to get some signatures, or go after work to canvass the adult learners who go to college after finishing their day job. The challenge with such spots is that you can’t be confident about the extent of foot traffic on any given day. If you plan ahead and go to a political or community event, you will be more certain of finding a willing audience.

For either political or community events, Google is your friend. I live in Columbus, OH, so for the former, I would simply put into Google “political events Columbus Ohio” (without the quotation marks) and here are the results. As you can see, there is an extensive list of local political events from which I can choose. The same goes for a Google search for “community events Columbus Ohio,” which brings up a similarly extensive list. If you are in a less well-populated area, search for political or community events in your county or region. Another friend is Meetup.com: use it to look for meetups relevant to politics and social activism. The category “movement” meetups, as in this link, can prove useful.

The next step is filtering. Not all political events will be equally appropriate for signature-gathering. For example, a candlelight vigil is not a good place to gather signatures, while a rally is a great place. A March may be really good if it includes a rally, but not if it’s just a March without a rally. A town hall meeting would be a so-so place to gather signatures from private citizens, but would be great to put politicians on the spot and ask them to sign or publicly refuse to do so.

Caption: Chad Eckerd wearing a PTP shirt he got in preparation for doing canvassing (Courtesy of Chad Eckerd)

For the vast majority of rallies, conferences, and other large public events you don’t need to get permission to gather signatures. In some cases, rallies and conferences allow you to purchase a tabling spot or simply bring and set up a foldable table. You should take advantage of that opportunity, as it increases the perception of legitimacy among event attendees and also makes you more visible: gathering signatures in that situation is quite a bit more effective.

For smaller events that are semi-public in nature, you should email or call the organizers in advance, let them know that you want to come and gather signatures for the pledge, and ask them if that would be a concern for them. Smaller events include meetings of local Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Green, and other party clubs; meetings and trainings of supporters of various causes, such as environmentalism, tax reform, free speech, and so on; conferences devoted to specific politically-relevant topics. It is very rare that we heard any concerns. In fact, often the organizers would give you a few minutes to speak about the Pro-Truth Pledge and why the attendees of the event should take it. In that case, tailor your remarks to the specific audience with whom you are engaging.

What about community events? The larger ones that work best tend to be events that are not paid and have a theme beyond simple entertainment. For example, state fairs have not worked out well in terms of getting signatures. More successful were community events centered around the Pride March, Earth Day, Labor Day, July 4, and similar thematic events. That way, when you present the PTP binder, you can tie in the theme of the day to truth in public discourse, making people more likely and eager to sign.

Note that some large community events are large enough that they offer tables or booths to nonprofits. Since you represent a nonprofit – Intentional Insights is a 501(c)3 educational and nonpartisan nonprofit and the Pro-Truth Pledge is its civic engagement project – you can use that nonprofit status to secure a booth or table, often for free or at a reduced fee.

There are also a host of smaller community events that can be great venues to gather signatures for communities in which you participate. If you are a member of a church, secular group, or other values-based community, bring the PTP binder to various social events in the community. For example, a coffee hour after worship service in a church or a presentation by a speaker in a secular group is a great time to gather signatures. Do the same if you are a member of a walking club, a choir group, a reading club, or a service club such as Rotary or Kiwanis. Depending on the norms within such communities, you might consider letting the organizers know about your plans and asking them to let you know if they might have concerns (which is quite unlikely). In fact, a well-organized and large community might have specific areas for signature-gathering and similar activities by members. A block party or neighborhood party can be a great chance to introduce the PTP to your friends and neighbors, and a work social event to your professional colleagues. If you play sports, or if your kids do, a social event for the team can be a nice opportunity to share about the PTP.

It’s very helpful to research a couple of months into the future, and put into your calendar a number of events where you plan to gather signatures or times you plan to go to spots with heavy foot traffic. Likewise, set yourself a set of personal goals for the signatures you plan to get. Making a plan like this and writing it down has been shown by research to be highly effective in helping you achieve your goals, and fighting lies and protecting truth needs every advantage it can get!

Besides these more planned activities, take opportunity of things you already do to gather signatures spontaneously. Everyone is different in their activities, so be creative! One of our signature-gatherers travels frequently, and carries the binder around with him whenever he travels. He goes to various local events of values-based groups when he travels, and carries the binder with him visibly. He also hangs out in hotel bars in the evenings when he travels with his binder right beside him. When people ask him about the binder, he tells them about the pledge, and offers them an opportunity to sign. Be equally creative in adapting spontaneous signature-gathering into your life!

Note that some state have laws around gathering signatures for petitions to put on the ballot. Fortunately, the PTP is not a petition, and does not fall under these kinds of laws. Likewise, the PTP is not a form of electioneering, and does not fall under these kinds of laws. Still, some people who do not know what the PTP is about might be confused about it, and you would need to educate them about the fact that the PTP does not fall under either either petition laws or electioneering laws, since it is not about about a ballot measure or support for a candidate.

If you are part of a group of people in your locale researching signature-gathering events, make a Google Form such as this one made by the Ohio PTP Advocates group (directions on Google Forms here). Such Google Forms help coordinate the research of multiple people together, and because they can see what has already been found, they won’t research the same thing. Very handy! Then, you can have a point person in charge of communicating about events to people who engage in signature-gathering. That way, you can divide the research and signature-gathering activities into separate roles. Such division allows people who are more introverted and research-oriented to do research, and people who are more extroverted to do signature-gathering.

Now, let me be clear: this is in no way an absolute divide. Most people who are part of the Pro-Truth movement tend to be more introverted than extroverted. Despite being quite introverted myself, I do a lot of social activities. It’s just about what is easier to do for people. For example, while I can do signature-gathering, it’s easier for me to do writing: that’s the biggest impact I can personally make. For other people, writing is not their strength. So if you are in an organizing role and can make things easier for people by playing to their strengths, do so. Still, I know that there are people who specifically want to stretch themselves and expand their comfort zone: for example, I remember a PTP Advocate telling me he came out of his shell through PTP activism that included signature-gathering. So if people want to expand their comfort zone, support them in doing so!

Pro tip for organizers: set up reminder systems for people who are doing research and also those doing signature gathering. There are a number of people who commit to doing research or gathering signatures, and then life gets in the way. It’s not that they don’t want to do research or gather signatures, it’s simply that when their attention is not on this topic, they forget to do it. People have different personalities, and those who are in organizer positions generally are well organized themselves. Help others be their best selves by sending them reminders to conduct the research or signature-gathering they said they want to do! You can use organizing systems such as Trello to help organize your own activities, and scheduling reminders such as Gmelius to send recurring emails to others, or FollowUpThen, which offers a reminder service for yourself and others. Remember, you ARE NOT imposing on their time by reminding them to do these tasks, you are simply supporting them in achieving goals they said they want to achieve.

The Main Event: Gathering Signatures

Now, to the main event: actually getting signatures.

The binder provides you with the basics you will need to gather signatures when either canvassing or tabling. When canvassing, you’ll just walk around or stand in place and ask them to sign the pledge. When tabling, you will take out the flyers, the PTP text, the FAQs, the sign-up sheets, and if you have them business cards, and spread them out on a table.

Remember that your goal is to get as many signatures as possible, so everything you do should be oriented to doing so. There are many tips and tricks to the skill of gathering signatures: here is a videotaped training on gathering signatures provided by a professional sales trainer that outlines these tips and tricks.

 

Here are some guidelines in text form:

  • Once people come close enough (5 yards) meet people’s eyes and smile
    • When tabling, it’s best to avoid sitting behind a table and having it between you and people: stand to the side or in front of the table instead
    • While in most cases, PTP merchandise is optimal, in some thematic events, you can also make a good impact with wearing an event-themed t-shirt, such as Carl Baker wearing a pro-science shirt at a March for Science event
  • For those who smile back and do not look away or seem busy and intent on ignoring you, give a “stopper” line (one that would get people to stop) because they agree about the problems that the Pro-Truth Pledge is meant to address
    • A good stopper line is “Hey, do you think there’s too much lying in politics?”
    • If you are at an event devoted to a specific political topic, consider tying that into your stopper line: for example, if you’re at an environment-themed event, say that “Don’t you hate it when politicians spread falsehoods about the environment?”
    • You can also casually start a conversation about something to break the ice, and then turn to signature-gathering
  • If they answer positively to the stopper line, or once you break the ice, give a brief pitch:
    • “I think so too, and I’m working to do something about it! I’m part of a non-partisan movement to bring truth back into politics. Join me to push politicians to stop lying and hold them accountable by signing the Pro-Truth Pledge.”
  • Immediately after the pitch, hand the person a flyer
    • Then, hold out the binder or clipboard and pen for them to sign
  • Do not give them the binder before giving them a flyer
    • Some people will want to read the test thoroughly and consider the pledge, which is fair
    • You want to be able to pitch to other people while someone is reading the text and considering whether to sign
    • So do not give away the binder unless the person is also taking a pen to sign
  • Once they take the pen, say something positive, such as “great” or “thanks”
    • While they are signing, explain to them that by signing the pledge, they are at the same time asking their elected representatives to sign the pledge
    • This is why we need their addresses and phone numbers
  • When the person is done signing, they’ll typically want to give you the binder and pen and be on their way
    • Take only the binder, and leave them with the pen for the moment
    • Then check to make sure they signed correctly: you’ll be quite surprised to see how many people made a mistake or forgot to fill something out
    • For example, they forget to put their address, or forget to print their name, or forget to put their phone or email
    • When this happens, explain why it is important to provide all of these, and ask “What is your address/phone/email, please?” and write it in for them if they agree to tell you
  • Thank them politely after they sign
    • Suggest they pass along the flyer and words about the pledge to their friends and neighbors
  • If you have Pro-Truth Pledge business cards:
    • Hand them several, suggest they keep one in their wallet as a reminder of the pledge and pass out the rest
    • Do not ask them if they would like them, simply hand them to the person as a default part of getting them signed up
    • Then, if they want to hand them back to you instead of taking them, tell them to simply leave it at a coffee shop, library, or other venue
    • Only take them back if they are strongly reluctant to keep them
  • If you meet pushback such as “it will never work” or some other version of that, respond by saying “Well, doing something is better than nothing. What do you have to lose by signing and showing politicians what they should do?”
    • You can also give a response that comes from your personal experience and commitment, explaining why you signed
  • Other responses to clarifying questions can be given based on the FAQs
  • Do not spend more than a couple of minutes talking to people, especially those who want to argue
    • Remember, you are missing out a lot of potential people who will sign the pledge if you do
    • If they are insistent, you can tell them to take out their smartphone and look up the FAQs on the website, which have links to a number of articles about the pledge
    • You can also tell them that they can contact the PTP organizers through the website, who can answer their questions in more depth
  • For enthusiastic people, ask them if they’d like to help gather signatures or make a donation.
    • If so, take their contact information, and give it to the local area organizer, or to someone from the PTP Central Coordination Committee
    • If they want to donate cash on the spot, you should write them a receipt

At political events especially, you will have a substantial chance of running into public figures, such as politicians or reporters. When presenting the pledge to them, explain that each public figure will get a positive reputation boost from both signing the pledge and having their information sent around to all pledge signees. They will also get external validation from being evaluated by others for the accuracy of what they say. Further wording on convincing public figures is available here.

For elected officials or candidates in particular, they get a bonus from being able to attack their opponents in races when their opponents have not signed the pledge – what do these opponents have to hide if they refuse to take the pledge? Further wording is here for convincing politicians. Ask them to sign the binder and also provide you with a business card for the PTP central organizers to input their public information into the website. We will also follow up with them about a pledge statement they may want sent around to pledge-takers and hosted on the PTP Public Figures and Organizations page.

The binder also provides you with an additional tool to pitch elected officials or candidates, as it demonstrates the physical reality of many people signing the PTP. What you would want to do is combine the physical evidence of the binder along with the total number of all the people who have signed the Pro-Truth Pledge in that politician’s region if it’s a regional politician, or country if it’s a national-level politician, since part of signing the pledge involves calling on one’s elected representatives to sign the pledge. We make that information available only for people who are area organizers or members of the PTP Targeting Committee, for the sake of data security, so if you are one of these people, get in touch with one of your contacts from the PTP Central Coordination Committee for that information.

Note that politicians – or their staff, who you will likely be talking to if it’s a high-level political figure – will likely want you to leave them with some physical presence of the number of people who signed the PTP. What you can do is print out a photograph of one page of a sign-up sheet, as physical proof of signature-gathering, along with printing out the spreadsheet with all the names of the people who signed the PTP in that region or country. You can then leave it with the politician or their staff, along with a flyer with the text of the PTP.

Now Bring It Home

So you come home after the excitement of signature gathering. What next?

You might be thrilled to input the signatures you gathered into the PTP website. If so, great: here are the directions on doing so.

However, your skills and interests might be less in data entry than in other PTP areas. Worry not! We have volunteers who are excited about inputting people into the website. Just scan or take nice-quality photos of the signatures, and email them to info [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org.

After you send out the signatures, refill the supply of flyers and sign-up sheets in your binder. Then, check your calendar for the next signature-gathering opportunity and prepare everything you might need for that.

Let us know your experience and any questions you might have!

Bonus

Below are some thoughts from some of our more prolific signature-gatherers.

Here is how Carl Baker described his tabling experience at the March for Science in Washington State:

  • Lots of people seemed to be drawn in by the charts that are printed and taped onto the board on the front of the table. I think that it helped a lot that I was in a community where I’m already known. I wasn’t an outsider and this was an event I would have been at even without the PTP. My experience was that this is easier than it seems. Just nerve yourself up to talk to people (that’s the hard part). I didn’t encounter anyone who was hostile.

Here is how Ken Whitaker described his experience gathering signatures in Utah:

  • I agree with Carl Baker that getting up the nerve to do it is the hard part, once you’ve done that it’s easy sailing.
  • So far I’ve only done some canvassing at local rallies, but they’ve been pretty successful. I do, hopefully, have a tabling event coming up this weekend if I can come up with required fee. I’m excited to see how that goes, I’ll be there with my t-shirt on and for the first time a new 4′ banner I’ve purchased.
  • Getting online and checking upcoming events has been an incredible help, also I’m involved with a couple of local activist groups that I’ve gotten the leadership to sign as well as one of the organization’s themselves. I’ll be giving a presentation to the other organization at their next monthly meeting and will hopefully get the rest of the members as well as the organization to sign as well.

Here are thoughts from Duff Dyer, who is a professional salesperson

  • I find a direct approach most productive, in this and other sales (this is a sales situation). I start by asking, “Have you heard about the Pro-Truth Pledge yet?”
  • I’m assuming the answer will be, “No,” but if the answer is, “Yes,” I say, “Fantastic! Did you take The Pledge, or do you have questions?” The point of that is to uncover someone who didn’t sign, but can still be talked into it (especially if I’m at an event where there are others collecting signatures).
  • I think the best approach for exposition is to define the goals and my personal reasons for involvement. “The Pro-Truth Pledge in short, is a movement to be truthful. If you take The Pledge like I did, you essentially promise to be honest and truthful, in what you say, post, and expect from those around you. (Hand the potential signer The Pledge sheet). The bigger picture goal is to achieve honesty and truthfulness in our media and politicians. When we get a critical mass of signers in, for instance, (local politician’s) district, The Pledge includes that goal that we want our media and politicians to be honest and truthful too. So we go to a sitting politician, or media personality, or candidate, and say, we have 5000 people in your constituency that have signed the Pro-Truth Pledge and they want you to take The Pledge as well.
  • “I don’t know if this will work, but I can’t see how being honest and truthful, which I’m already doing, and trying encourage politicians and media to be honest and truthful as well can hurt.
  • “What do you think? You can take the Pro-Truth Pledge by signing right here.”

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Pro-Truth Pledge on Social Media

Caption: Road sign image of Facebook and Twitter (geralt/pixabay)

So you’ve taken the plunge with the Pro-Truth Pledge: congratulations! Now how do you live your social media life after the pledge?

Going Public

The first thing to do is post on social media about taking the pledge. You can use this Facebook sharer link, this Twitter sharer link, this LinkedIn sharer link, and this Reddit sharer link to do so. If you are active on other social media, you can share it there as well using the link to the Pro-Truth Pledge website.

Next, please add this Facebook Frame to your Facebook profile image or video, and this Twibbon to your Twitter profile image. If the standard Pro-Truth Pledge frame is not aesthetically pleasing to you fro some reason, you are welcome to use this alternative PTP Facebook Frame. Please mark the Facebook Frame as “permanent,” since the main point of the frame is to show others that you took the pledge and are comfortable being held publicly accountable for your words. It’s also a way that fellow PTP-takers can recognize each other on FB, and build community. Finally, we find it’s very beneficial for encouraging one’s Facebook friends to take the pledge as well. For example, one PTP volunteer told me that after he put up his Frame, a friend of his quickly took the pledge, and he suspects the Frame is what caused it. I know that you may have other commitments as well, and want to show it with other frames: if you want to use other frames, you can use them on top of or in addition to the Pro-Truth Pledge FB Frame, but please keep that one there.

Caption: John Kirbow’s Facebook profile with Pro-Truth Pledge Facebook Frame (Courtesy of John Kirbow)

To make the frame permanent, if you are on your computer, once you click “Try It,” you should see on the bottom of the screen an option for how long you want to keep the frame. It should state “Switch back to previous profile picture in” and give you a number of options. Simply select “Never” and that’s that! If you are on your phone, you will see options on the bottom left that give you various timing options, and you can click “Permanent” there. Any time you switch your profile picture, simply go back to this link and add the Pro-Truth Pledge Facebook Frame to your new profile picture.

For your personal Facebook account, add the statement “I have taken the Pro-Truth Pledge ProTruthPledge.org: please hold me accountable” to the “About” section of your personal Facebook profile as in this example. If you have a Facebook page, please add the same statement to the “About” section of your Facebook page as in this example. For your Twitter account, please add “Took #ProTruthPledge at ProTruthPledge.org” to your Twitter bio. For your LinkedIn profile, add that you are a “Signer” of the Pro-Truth Pledge LinkedIn organization. Click the “+” button on your experience section, put in “Signer” as title, choose “Pro-Truth Pledge” as the organization, put in your date of signing, and in the description state “Because I am committed to integrity, I have taken the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org: please hold me accountable.” You can add additional information about why you chose to take the pledge and/or what kind of activities you are doing to advance the pledge as well. Where it gives you the option to add a video, you can share this video about the PTP. The big benefit for you of doing so is that your LinkedIn connections are notified of your new “experience” of being a signer of the pledge, spreading the word to your professional colleagues of your orientation toward truthfulness.

Add similar information for other social media where you have profiles. You can also add it to the sign-off message of your email. On some social media, you can have links, and that’s great, and on some you can add the hashtag, so see what works for each.

Then, please click “like” and “follow” on the official Facebook page of the Pro-Truth Pledge, and also the official page of Intentional Insights (InIn), the nonpartisan educational 501(c)3 nonprofit running the Pro-Truth Pledge project. Please “follow” the Twitter account of the Pro-Truth Pledge and the Twitter account of Intentional Insights. Also, “follow” the LinkedIn page of the Pro-Truth Pledge, and the LinkedIn page of Intentional Insights. If you are active on other social media, please take a look at the home page of Intentional Insights to see other social media you can follow.

Fighting Lies and Protecting Truth on Your Profile

So now you’ve gone public: what next?

The first thing to do is get involved with the Pro-Truth Pledge social media community. Our main collaborative venue is Facebook. Facebook groups allow Pro-Truth Pledge advocates to work together in a coordinated manner to fight lies and protect the truth. The first thing to do is join this Facebook group for InIn as a whole, called Intentional Insights Insiders. It’s the group for anyone in any way interested in InIn’s activities and mission. The group has a significant bar for entry: we make sure to check that anyone who joins is an actual human being who expressed a clear interest in the mission of the group or was invited by someone who can vouch for that person. Of course, someone can pretend an interest in the topic, and actually be trying to infiltrate and subvert the group, or less maliciously have a personality and values that make them disruptive to and undermine the community, such as expressing an excessively partisan tone. That is why we have a clear set of standards as described in the group sidebar, and the group is kept well-moderated, with substantial filtering of posts and moderation of comments. To learn more about what’s on-topic and what is not, see the general guidelines here for InIn Insiders moderators.

You will see a number of other Facebook groups linked in the top of the Intentional Insights Insiders group, and one of them is the Global Pro-Truth Pledge Advocates Facebook group. This is a smaller offshoot of the broader Intentional Insights Insiders group, and is specifically dedicated to work on the Pro-Truth Pledge itself. Only those who took the pledge may join the group. The Global Pro-Truth Pledge advocates FB group is only for discussions related explicitly to strategizing and implementing the Pro-Truth Pledge project. By contrast, Intentional Insights Insiders is for broader content related to truth and rational thinking, in politics and other life areas. So posts about lies and truth in politics in general are for the Intentional Insights Insiders group, while posts asking for advice about how to target the pledge well to a certain audience are better for the Global Pro-Truth Pledge advocates group. There are also a host of groups for local-level activism, for many states in the US and some countries: check out if you live in an area with a group by looking at the linked groups here. These groups are for discussing more regional-oriented topics related to the Pro-Truth Pledge in your geographical area.

There are other groups linked at the top of Intentional Insights Insiders, which anyone who is a member of Intentional Insights Insiders can join. One is the Intentional Insights Informal Coaching Forum Facebook group. This is a group for coaches and clients (active and prospective) of the Intentional Insights Informal Coaching program to ask general questions and discuss situations and solutions. Another is the Intentional Insights Collaborative Truth-Seeking Club Facebook group, devoted to challenging conversations, meaning ones that have the reasonable potential to arouse strong emotions, by using collaborative truth-seeking strategies. Some of the more challenging conversations and posts that are originally proposed for the Intentional Insights Insiders Facebook group are redirected here. There’s also the Intentional Insights Reading Club Facebook group, devoted to reading and discussing texts directly relevant to the InIn mission of truth-seeking, rational thinking, and wise decision-making in all life areas. If you enjoy reading and discussing long texts, that’s a good group to join.

Besides Facebook, we have a social media space for professionals, in the form of our LinkedIn group: please join that if you have a LinkedIn account. The LinkedIn group brings together a community of professionals who’ve taken the pledge and are committed to behaving in accordance with the pledge in their professional life. The group offers the opportunity to cultivate connections with others who have committed to truthful behaviors. Integrity is immensely valuable in an employee or business colleague, and it’s a shared value for everyone in the group. We encourage group members to help each other develop their careers in every way that’s consistent with the pledge. Another purpose of the group is collaborating to explain and promote the pledge to other professionals. Use the group to share your experiences, ask questions, and strategize around this effort to help others demonstrate their commitment to truth.

The Facebook and LinkedIn groups provide safe spaces to discuss lies and truth in our public discourse, and especially in politics. However, it’s also important to make an impact on your friends and family, and you taking the pledge involves a commitment to do so. Research shows that we can significantly influence those in our social networks to engage in either beneficial or non-beneficial behavior. So use your posts on social media to influence your network toward greater honesty.

It is definitely beneficial to share on all of your social media platforms the postings that you see on the official Pro-Truth Pledge and Intentional Insights pages. That gives you a double impact: not only do you spread highly accurate, fact-checked information, but you also get your network to learn about and consider investigating the Pro-Truth Pledge itself. Especially impactful for social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are truth-oriented images, and we have a whole bunch of Pro-Truth memes for you to choose from here: share away!

Caption: Meme from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Wayne Straight for Intentional Insights)

Also, look at what people share in the Intentional Insights and Pro-Truth Pledge Facebook groups. Members there range across the political spectrum and orient toward truth above all, and after seeing the feedback there, you can decide what to share and what responses to make if people challenged you on the accuracy of the piece you share.

If you want to share something that has not yet been vetted in the official Pro-Truth Pledge groups, please follow our fact-checking guidelines. Also, avoid unreliable sources: a good way to do so is to use this extension for your social media and online browsing (the organization that made the app, Media Bias/Fact Check, took the Pro-Truth Pledge). You can also manually check the cites you use against this list, and this list, and this list of fake news sites, as well as more generally check out the extent of bias for any given source on the Media Bias/Fact Check website.

For each piece you share on Facebook, please add a version of the following wording in a P.S. to your post: “I took the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org, consider this article credible and the headline representative of the article: correct me if you think I might be mistaken, please!” An example is here. Doing so helps you come off as substantially more credible than someone else making a similar post, and thus impacting your connections to a greater extent. It also helps spread word about the pledge. Do the same sort of P.S. statement for other social media that allow you to do so, such as LinkedIn. While you can’t do the same thing for Twitter due to character limitations, what you can do on Twitter is add the hashtag #ProTruthPledge liberally, so please do so.

None of us are perfect, and sometimes our fact-checking efforts will fail. Never fear: that gives you a chance to practice the sixth behavior of the pledge (“reevaluate if my information is challenged, retract it if I cannot verify it”) and the twelfth behavior (“celebrate those who retract incorrect statements and update their beliefs toward the truth”). Publicly and gladly retract your statements. Do so both in the original statement itself, such as by editing the original Facebook post with an UPDATE at the very top and by commenting on your own Facebook post or tweet, and in a separate Facebook post and tweet announcing your retraction. State that you are following the pledge in your retractions, to model for your social network what they should do when they learn that they shared misinformation and again spread the word about the pledge.

If you reshared the piece of misinformation from someone else on social media, let that person or organization know, and ask them to retract their post, following the eighth behavior (“ask people to retract information that reliable sources have disproved even if they are my allies”). If you got the information from an online source, contact them to ask them to address the misinformation. Let them know that you are doing so in alignment with the Pro-Truth Pledge that you have taken, and if your efforts to get them to correct their statements succeeds, encourage them to take the pledge as well.

 

 

Fighting Misinformation Shared by Others

So far, we’ve talked about your own social media profile. What about when your friends and family post what you suspect to be misinformation?

Do not confront them with evidence about them sharing misinformation. Research suggests that, for the large majority of the population, being confronted with the evidence results in negative emotions, shutting down thinking and inspiring defensive or aggressive responses. At that point, you lost: they will not change their minds.

Instead, use curiosity to find out where they learned about that information. Ask them if they consider the source and the evidence credible. Engage them in a conversation about what it means to use credible sources and quality evidence. Establish a sense of trust and shared goals, and get them to agree that the most important thing is the facts, regardless of ideology.

Caption: Meme indicating that facts are the most important thing, not ideology, from the Pro-Truth meme set (Made by Lexie Holliday for Intentional Insights)

In the course of the conversation, once they feel safe, you may or may not share some of the evidence you may have about their post being misinformation. It’s best if they find the evidence on their own through the questions you ask, rather than being presented with the evidence by you. Their own search for evidence will help teach them the skills of fact-checking and online research, rather than just you providing them with the facts.

Note in the course of the conversation that you are following the ninth behavior of the pledge, “ask people to retract information that reliable sources have disproved even if they are my allies,” and the tenth behavior, “compassionately inform those around me to stop using unreliable sources even if these sources support my opinion.” Again, you are modeling what you preach, and also sharing about the pledge in the process. For the behavioral science research underlying this approach, and an example of this approach in play in a high-stakes public situation, see this article.

The interaction described above takes some patience and effort. It requires you to have a decent pre-existing relationship with that person, and for the other person to care at least somewhat about the truth.

What if it’s your uncle who always posts deceptive articles from Breitbart or your cousin who posts misleading memes from OccupyDemocrats, and you know based on past discussions that they won’t change their behavior? What about if it’s someone you barely know from high school, and you doubt that the effort to change their mind is going to be successful, or you simply don’t want to put in the time and effort into influencing them?

Well, there’s a meme for that. Posting a meme takes a few seconds, and makes quite a big impact. Research shows that information shared in a visual format is significantly more effective at combatting misinformation than textual information. Another study demonstrated that a major motivator for lying stems from people trying to gain the benefits of deceptive behavior while still thinking of themselves as honest. Posting a meme questioning people’s honesty thus represents an excellent, science-based way of fighting misinformation.

There are a number of Pro-Truth memes at various levels of escalation. Here is one soft one, for people with whom you have a higher concern for maintaining relationships. Say it’s your cousin who you see occasionally at family events, and with whom you want to be cordial.

Caption: Meme questioning whether something was fact-checked featuring Sherlock Holmes from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Wayne Straight for Intentional Insights)

Let’s say your cousin posted something more ridiculous than usual, and you want to up the ante. Here’s the meme to use.

Caption: Meme questioning whether something was fact-checked featuring gnomes from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Wayne Straight for Intentional Insights)

Here is a set of memes for someone whose good opinion you don’t really care about, where your primary concern is to convince onlookers to avoid believing in the post made by the person.

Caption: Meme criticizing alternative facts from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Jane A. Gordon for Intentional Insights)

Caption: Meme criticizing lies in politics from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Ed Coolidge for Intentional Insights)

 

Caption: Meme criticizing lies in politics from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Jane A. Gordon and Steven Carr for Intentional Insights)

Caption: Meme criticizing the sharing of fake news from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Lau Guerreiro for Intentional Insights)

The latter one is the most powerful, and most intense. For more guidelines in how to address people with irrational beliefs, see this article.

Lobbying Public Figures on Social Media

A key aspect of the Pro-Truth Pledge involves encouraging public figures and organizations to take it. You can do that through social media.

Twitter is a highly useful venue for this regard, as it’s the most public forum available. You can tweet to any politician or other public figure “.@[twitter handle] please take #ProTruthPledge at ProTruthPledge.org to fight #fakenews and #alternativefacts @ProTruthPledge” or an adapted version of this message. Keep those hashtags, they are valuable for drawing attention to your message. You can, for example, send a tweet a day to someone from this Twitter list of US congressmembers, or this list of NBC correspondents, and also find lists of your own. Consider finding a list of reporters for your local paper or TV channel, or your local politicians, and tweeting them.

Facebook is also useful, though less so, since it is not as publicly visible. There, what you would want to do is go to the pages of politicians such as from this list, or media such as from this list. Then, send them a message, saying something like “@ please take #ProTruthPledge at ProTruthPledge.org to fight #fakenews and protect #truth and #facts” and also post this in a comment on their pinned post or latest post.

The same strategies apply to organizations and public figures on LinkedIn, as well as all other social media.

If you are in the US, you have an additional tool for you to help you get your elected representatives to commit to truth via the Pro-Truth Pledge. Go to this link and put in your US address. You will get a menu with (almost) all of your elected representatives, from local to national, and the number of pledge-takers per elected representative.

Those that have easily-available Twitter accounts will have a blue “Twitter” button above and to the right of their picture. When you click on that button, you will send to each one this message: “I took the #ProTruthPledge at https://ProTruthPledge.org/ because I value #truth and #facts and I ask my representative @ [twitter handle] join me in taking @ProTruthPledge and showing that #TruthMatters and #FactsMatter to them.” Here’s an example of how it looks.

It takes 5 seconds (literally, not figuratively) to send a tweet to each. So take 5 minutes to tweet to all of them, and repeat the same 5 minute tweeting per week. You can easily set up a Twitter account if you don’t have one. Make your voice heard and make a difference – Tweet for Truth now! 

For extra activism points, you will see that many elected representatives will have their other social media and websites available when you put in your address. It won’t be a one-click matter to request they take the pledge on those venues, but you can take a minute for each and use these guidelines and templates to write them emails and Facebook messages.

We know these strategies work: a number of public figures have been convinced to take the pledge through reaching out to them on social media. For example, one of our volunteers has described how whenever anyone invites him to “like” a Facebook page from a politician, he asks whether that individual have taken the pledge. After a couple of exchanges back and forth, where he explains the pledge and follows up, about a quarter end up taking the pledge. Imagine what would happen if a quarter of all the politicians whose Facebook pages you were invited to like end up taking the pledge!

Conclusion

Following strategies will enable you to be highly effective in fighting lies and promoting truth on social media. Let us know what your experience is like and what questions you have!