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.
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.
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://
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?