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.
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.
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!