Winning the Internet

You’re invited: The marriage of policy and organizing

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rae roca-pickett

Rae Roca-Pickett

jessica adair

Jessica Adair

As we get ready for Netroots Nation 2014, we’re taking a closer look at some of the convention’s most exciting training sessions. We’re interviewing the trainers and taking you inside some of online activism’s most popular and elusive topics.

Today we’re interviewing Jessica Adair, who’ll be leading You’re invited: The marriage of policy and organizing with Rae Roca-Pickett.

NN14 Training Session

You’re invited: The marriage of policy and organizing
Often, the policy world is disconnected from the work organizers do on the ground. Learn how communications teams can build the bridge between the two worlds, providing the solid resources advocates need and elevating issues to mainstream and online media—and how you can do it too! We’ll use our Healthy Young America campaign as an example of how to break down complicated policy like the ACA into a clear, understandable outreach and communications campaign, on the ground and online.


Q: Tell us about yourself and your experience marrying policy and organizing work.

A: I got my start as a policy wonk, working on Capitol Hill after graduating law school. Not long after, though, the campaign bug bit. I worked as an organizer in Texas and Colorado, learning from the best in the organizing business. Now I get to use my past lives, taking Young Invincibles’ policy work to expand opportunity for our generation and organizing activists online!

My co-presenter, RaeAnn Roca-Pickett, is an Ohio native and seasoned Comms pro. She graduated with a degree in Communications from Ohio Northern University and has worked as a communications professional with several organizations. She’s passionate about millennial advocacy, affordable higher education and her beautiful, 9 month-old son.

Q: In your opinion, what is the most common mistake that organizations make when doing policy and organizing work?

A: People assume that making something easy to digest means dumbing it down, particularly in the world of youth engagement. Your audience is smarter than you give them credit! Instead, focus on making your point not just relevant, but supremely personal. And, it always helps to be concise, use language familiar to your audience and give plenty of context.

Q: What are the two most important things to keep in mind when doing policy and organizing work?

A: 1) Don’t live in the vacuum of your own work. At Young Invincibles, we’re shifting our mindset so our organizing work directs our policy shop and our policy products often come with a call to action. For example, our organizers collect information from other health care advocates on the ground and from young people trying to access affordable health insurance. Our policy team then creates resources to fill in the gaps. Our comms team also plays a role, sharing resources and answering questions on social media, as well as pitching our work to local reporters writing about the Affordable Care Act.

2) Leverage your knowledge as a communicator and a professional whether through social or traditional media to bring policy and organizing to the table. Your policy folks want to highlight a report? Have your organizers create an event so you can invite the press, share on social media and connect your report about the problem to solutions in your community. There are a million ways to connect policy and organizing and get the most bang for your buck!

Q: Why should folks attend your session at Netroots Nation, and how can they connect with you?

A: We’re giving away puppies and the secrets to the universe! Kidding, but if you want to bring your puppy with you, we won’t complain. As organizers and communications folks, we’ve had a number of successes–and made a great number of mistakes–when it comes to elevating our work. We’ve developed tips and tricks to integrate our organization and get media attention that we can’t wait to share with our colleagues in the progressive community!

Have questions, suggested topics or Coney Island recommendations? Hit us up! You can reach Young Invincibles at @YI_Care and RaeAnn Roca-Pickett at @RaeRoca.


To attend this training, or one of the 39 others at Netroots Nation 2014 in Detroit, register now.

About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.