8 Lessons Learned from Starting a Podcast

Once a fringe “new media” tactic, podcasts have come into their own by taking advantage of smart phone automotive audio link capabilities and catering to the expectation of “my content, my choice.”

Podcasting is an easy tactic to deploy, well worth the time and money – so long as those who create the content tailor the way they talk about policy to a podcasting audience. Given a tech-savvy audience, it will help you achieve your communications objectives. You should know ahead of time that podcasting is also a regular time commitment on the scale of maintaining a website or a regular radio spot. Don’t start one until you evaluate how it fits into your organizational plans and structure.

Are you interested in getting a podcast going at your organization?

Read more

February Spark Session: Ask The Experts – Incorporating Media Into Your Messaging

Barb Ford, Sean Malone, and Nicole Williams answer all your questions about incorporating media into your organization’s messaging.

Episode 2: Arts and Minds

This week, on Episode 2 of the Arts and Minds Videocast:

A quick recap: What is Arts and Minds?

This July, on a street in Portland, Oregon, artists, activists, and everyday folk will get together to paint a mural on an ugly wall. We have this wild idea that we can use creative talents to spotlight Oregon’s broken criminal justice system.

The main event: everyone will help paint that mural. The context of painting such a large work of art is exciting: an all-day block party with activities, stories, demonstrations, and entertainment.

There is a lot to do. We have a four-page to-do list, and it’s growing. We’re slowly checking things off, but we still have to find a wall, set a date, and solidify partners.

Essentially, Arts and Minds will combine the energy of art with the power of the community and the experience of dedicated organizations to tell a story of the need for criminal justice reform.

We are making headway in the partnership department! Countless state and national organizations are taking the system on, and we are trying to hook up with them. After hours of researching, emailing, and cold-calling, some organizations are right on the brink of joining the effort as official partners! There is certainly still room to include great organizations who are already fighting the good fight. Can you help connect us? Give a call or an email.

I mentioned that Arts and Minds is an art collective. That means a group of people willing to help get the art on the wall and the event on the street. We’ve had a very warm response to an invitation to find out about Arts and Minds at a Meetup gathering. We will reach out to the community, gauge interest, and learn about the virtues and talents kind, passionate people want to make available.

The first Arts and Minds Meetup gathersFebruary 16 at 7 pm at Zoiglhaus in Portland, Oregon. More info: http://meetu.ps/36lFpH.

To get involved yourself, please contact Ginger@SparkFreedom.org

Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you next week for Episode three!

Episode 1: Introducing Arts and Minds

Introducing Arts and Minds, a new, freedom-focused art collective advanced by Spark Freedom. We’re just getting started, finding our wings, and preparing for our big debut, an interactive art event in Portland, Oregon this summer. Join us on our journey, via this new (sometimes awkward) videocast, as we mold the dream and make it a reality.

This is episode one, and our host, Ginger, lays out the plan:

This summer 2017 in Portland, Oregon, Arts and Minds presents a special one-day arts event dedicated to showcasing our country’s need for Criminal Justice Reform. What does this event entail?

The main draw:

We’re painting a mural, and everyone (including you) is invited to come paint with us. The design will show the ills of our justice system. Participants needn’t be skilled painters: we’ll use a paint-by-numbers style. We’ll paint to the sounds of freedom-focused music, storytelling, poetry, and performance. It will be a day filled with camaraderie, hard work, education, introspection, and fun.

There’s a lot to do, think about, and get excited about before this summer. We have to set a date, find and secure a wall to paint on, create partnerships, design the art, deal with government stuff, and on and on.

We just said we’re an arts collective. More realistically, we want to become an arts collective. We are looking for artists and activists who believe in the beauty of personal liberty and want to celebrate and fight for it through art, not violence.

Do you want to be involved? Do you want to help plan this event? Can you contribute something awesome? We’re looking for all types of people – artistic experience not required.

To get involved, please contact Ginger@SparkFreedom.org

We look forward to sharing this journey with you!

November Spark Session: Improve Your Digital Marketing

Our November Spark Session “Improve Your Digital Marketing” explored meaningful metrics, focusing your message, and tying up loose ends.

Show Notes

Intro 1:20

Most Important Aspects of a Digital Strategy 3:13

Customer Journey 4:58

Web Design Concepts 6:11

What to Communicate for Success 11:25

Organic Synergy 12:50

Meaningful Measurements 15:30

Digital Strategy 17:21

Cohesive Messaging 20:15

What’s Coming Next 22:05

Summary 22:40


Digital Marketing Tools 27:02

Becoming the Best 29:43

Marketing Targets 32:11

General vs. Specific 34:35



September Spark Session: Telling vs Selling

The September Spark Session, “Telling vs Selling,” explored how to listen intently so you “sell” the right aspect of your product. Be sure to watch the whole recording!

Show notes

Figure out which story to tell (4:50)

Who does your story target? (6:15)

How to sell a cellphone (7:30)

The 3 principles of ALL selling: Ask, Listen, Link (9:30)

Telling or Selling #1: GOP.com vs Democrats.org vs LP.org (11:00)

Telling or Selling #2: Organ donation (14:15)

Sell a complex policy in bite-size chunks (18:05)

Making Fiscal Federalism (somewhat) sexy (18:40)

Why people buy (24:45)

When should you tell? (27:45)

Make numbers memorable – even emotional (30:20)

Selling to policy wonks (32:00)

Q & A:

How can a policy paper sell, not tell? (34:15)

Should my selling points always be positive? (36:35)

What policy area has been the most difficult to sell? (38:55)

What if I just can’t figure out my listener’s desire? (41:10)

When you don’t yet know your audience – say, as you develop a policy – how can you sell? What if you can’t afford market research? (45:00)


Roger Dooley, Brainfluence


Save the date! Our next Spark Session is November 17.

To catch up on past Spark Sessions, visit our Archives.

August Spark Session: Ask the Experts

In our August Spark Session, Scott Graves (LibertyLab), Kevan Kjar (ArrowHead3 Consulting), and Spark Freedom’s own Nicole Williams tackled a whole sombrero full of your questions about marketing and communications. This session is so chock full of information, be sure to watch the whole recording or download the audio for your listening pleasure!

Here’s this session’s roadmap:

What do I do if I can’t find stories to support our marketing or policy message? (2:45)

How do I even get started with our 2017 marketing plan? (5:45)

Recently, our Facebook page views have dropped dramatically. What strategies work now? Should we move to a different platform? (7:35)

How can we persuade people we know are opposed to our policy proposal? (14:20)

How do I tackle objections? (19:15)

What social media platforms should we be on, and how often should we post? (24:50)

What is the appropriate length for a YouTube video for a policy idea/message? (29:50)

We’re thinking of doing a podcast. Do you think podcasts are still a good marketing tool? What tips do you have to make them successful (e.g. length, frequency, content)? (34:00)

Do you think social media is more important than your website? (39:05)

How can you effectively market on a very small/no dollar budget? Do you have good examples of that you can share? (41:05)

Any advice for making videos on a dime? (46:15)


Download the audio (right-click > save): Spark Session August 2016 – Audio


Our next Spark Session is September 22. Save the date!

To catch up on past Spark Sessions, visit the Archives.



July Spark Session: The DNA of Story

This month’s Spark Session centered on the DNA of storytelling. Spark Freedom’s Nicole Williams and Kevan Kjar of Arrowhead3 Consulting discussed what it takes to create winning stories that further your policy or organizational message.

Great stories, stories that people are moved by and become invested in, consists of three parts:

  1. Mission: What problem are you trying to solve? What issue is your policy addressing?
  2. Hero: Who are you solving it for? This should be someone with a real story to whom people can relate.
  3. Conflict: What stands in your Hero’s way? What obstacle(s) need to be overcome?

Once you’ve established these three components and crafted your story, how do you get people to listen to it? To capture your audience’s attention, you’ll need a great log line. A log line is a one-sentence summary of what your story is about using the three key elements in your story, i.e. the central conflict, the hero, and the mission. A log line should have an emotional “hook” that stimulates the audience’s interest. Be sure to watch the recording for examples.

Of course, you can’t create compelling stories and log lines that appeal to everybody, so you’ll want to focus on your strongest audience. And, while not all people in your audience are going through what your hero is going through, your log line should elicit a strong sense of empathy from them for your hero. This will get them invested in your message.

Finally, don’t stop with one good story. If one person is facing a certain issue that your policy is trying address, there is a good chance that other people are, too. The more stories you can tell of people dealing with the problem you’re trying to solve, the more compelling your narrative becomes.

Watch the entire Spark Session to learn more, such as:

  • How to appeal to different audiences
  • How to humanize your story
  • How to get people to care about your policy
  • How to write a successful log line (and what a log line is)
  • Examples are also provided for reference!

You can also download the slide deck from the session: The DNA of Story.