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.



June Spark Session – Ask the Experts!

For our June Spark Session, we tackled another round of your marketing questions. We covered the basic rules of successful coalition building, the do’s and don’ts of email marketing, and how to manage your organization’s reputation on Wikipedia.

Spark Freedom’s Jonathan Haines started off the session by discussing how to build strong coalitions. Your most fundamental task is to get a diverse group of people to set their individual goals aside in favor of working toward a common goal. You need to create a strong message that transcends differences in viewpoints among your coalition partners and generates full buy-in from them. Once you have that message you can then devise a joint strategy to achieve your coalition’s goal.

Next up, Sarah Johnson from Spotlight Liberty had some great tips for making your email marketing efforts more successful. There are several factors you need to consider when trying to get the most out of your email list. One key piece of advice Sarah mentioned was to scrub your list every 6 months so that you’re only keeping your most relevant and interested users. She also provided a few great email marketing resources. Check them out:

What’s a good email open rate & click rate? [Benchmark data]

How to get your sales emails opened

Email opens trends on mobile devices in 2015

Lastly, Spark Freedom’s Nicole Williams gave some great tips for tackling “vandalism” to your Wikipedia page committed by your opponents. When you discover inaccuracies, you may be tempted to correct them all at once. However, Nicole recommended to address them in small chunks and over time to avoid a “wiki war.” Make sure you learn and abide by the Wikipedia’s community standards and editing guidelines. And when you make your edits, use credible third-party sources instead of your own website.

Watch the entire webinar to find out:

  • The process for creating a coalition from the ground up
  • How often you should send out mass emails
  • What email marketing metrics you really need to measure
  • Essential tips for staying out of “wiki wars”

[Webinar] May Spark Session: How to use humor to (re)connect with your audience

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As many of us have experienced first-hand, it is difficult to make policy interesting and fun. So how do we lighten the mood and engage our audience better?

That’s what we talked about with our guest Wayne Hoffman in last week’s webinar. Wayne has spent 25 years in a journalism field before he took the helm at the Idaho Freedom Foundation. He’s well known for his coverage of the West Memphis Three murder stories, and he even appeared in a documentary about that. He has been running the Idaho Freedom Foundation for 7 years, taking it from a kernel of an idea to a thriving organization doing great work in Idaho.

Here are some of Wayne’s insights from the webinar:

Q: What is the first piece of advice you would give someone who wants to integrate humor into their policy work?

Wayne Hoffman: You don’t have to come up with the greatest punch line of all time. Just start out by looking at your policies and finding ways you can lighten the mood a little bit.

Q: What do you do if you’re just not funny by nature?

WH: First, remember this: You’re not trying to have people go home and say, “Oh, that guy from the free market think tank was so funny.” You’re trying to get them to connect with you as a human being. So be yourself; don’t walk into a room and try to be a stand-up comedian. Even poke fun at yourself sometimes.

Q: What things do you need to keep in mind as you’re trying to integrate humor into your policy communications?

WH: 1) Know your audience and know your issue. Know your opposition. Know the constraints of what you can say and not say. You don’t want to come off as callous or flippant when trying to lighten the mood a little bit. 2) Practice, practice, practice. 3) Run your presentation by someone who can give you very constructive, honest feedback about what works and what doesn’t work.

Q: People seem to think we need to take freedom seriously to defend it. Will adding humor to the freedom debate work for us or against us?

WH: It’s absolutely going to work for us, and it’s the one thing that’s been missing from our side’s tool kit. No one wants to join a club of old, stodgy people who are constantly talking about how bad things are.

Q: Who is funnier, liberals or conservatives?

WH: I think liberals do a better job with humor right now, and I mean that sincerely. You only need anecdotes to prove your point. The Daily Show. Give me a conservative alternative to The Daily Show and I guess you’ll demonstrate that I’m wrong, but the liberals have done a very, very good job. Most of the narrative, the dialogues, and a lot of the late night talk shows promulgate liberal ideology, so we’ve done a very, very lousy job of either communicating in terms of wit and light hearted moments.

Listen to the entire webinar to find out:

  • How using a good prop can break through the discussion of cold facts and big numbers
  • How tax policy can be funny
  • How we can help people get a real grasp of a debate by presenting an issue in a humorous way that also resonates them
  • On-the-fly ways to get a chuckle from your audience
  • Why Wayne once took a liquor bottle to testify at the state legislature


May Spark Session_ How to use humor to (re)connect with your audience


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Also, check out our Spark Session archive.

Join Us for Twitter Analytics: October’s Spark Session

Have you heard about tomorrow’s webinar?

If  you use Twitter, you should definitely plan on joining us.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

1) Twitter Analytics Dashboard Walkthrough
2) Demographics Overview
3) Twitter Card Creation and What It Means
4) Twitter Ads – Ad Creation and Measurement

Determining your impact can be confusing. Let us help you learn how to use Twitter Analytics, how to interpret the data, and how you can make content decisions based on your analysis.

When: Wednesday, October 15
Time: 1 PM EST
Where: On our Spark Session page


Register to attend here.

3 Things We Learned From Dave Kerpen

Last Thursday, I was joined online by Dave Kerpen, founder of Likeable Media, to discuss how non-profits can harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing and be effective on social media platforms. Dave gave our attendees some fantastic advice and shared some incredible examples of how he has found success online.

I wanted to share with you three lessons that I took away from the conversation, although, if you take the time to watch the video, I guarantee you’ll come away with far more than three.


Take time to listen

All too often on social media, people are more interested in getting their message out than listening to what others have to say. That goes double for brands. However if you take the time to learn how to listen and do it correctly, you can often get some surprising and unexpected results, and even some new fans. Dave shared an awesome story about this and then gave our attendees an exercise to try:

Imagine you are a non-profit and you did a search for “What non-profit should I give to?” And you find a few dozen people. Those are literally people who are thinking about giving you money. Don’t ask for their money, just ask for their friendship and make a connection. Answer their questions and have a conversation with them.

Dave immediately found a person that asked, “On this giving Tuesday, what non-profit org should I give to and why should I give to them?”

That is just someone interested in a possible donor opportunity. There are hundreds of possibilities to engage people in conversation on any of the topics your non-profit talks about. Those conversations are already happening, all you have to do is look and listen.


Surprise and Delight

In his book, Likeable Social Media, Dave talks about how to surprise and delight your audience by doing something unexpected that brightens their day. During our Spark Session, he shared a story about a non-profit that he loves that found a way to do the same thing to him.

This non-profit,, supports teachers and helps them fund their classroom projects. Dave asked a friend who worked for the company what he could do to help support them and instead of asking for a donation, his friend handed him a stack of $50 gift cards. Dave’s mission was to hand out the gift cards to his influential friends, introduce them to, and then ask them to go online and use the card to support their favorite teacher. Dave was given the “gift of giving” and in turn was able to surprise and delight even more people and then ask them to partner with his favorite charity.


Growing Your Audience

Everyone want to reach a bigger audience online and so I asked Dave, “What is the best way to grow your audience and can your audience ever get too big?” He immediately whipped out one of his favorite lines, “You know what’s cooler than reaching a billion people on Facebook? Reaching the right thousand.” If you are targeting the right people who are going to resonate with, and then share, your message, you don’t need the ability to reach everyone. They’ll do it for you.


I hope you’ll take the time to learn even more insights from Dave by watching the rest of the video, found below. And be sure to stay connected to us on Facebook, Twitter, and via email so you’ll be able to catch the next Spark Session!



Spark Sessions are our regular live stream training videos designed to give you creative new methods and tools to jump start your communications.  Each session highlights a different topic and expert in the fields of social media, video, marketing and web.

Click here to see what’s coming up on the next Spark Session

Being More Likeable on Social Media – SparkSession with David Kerpen

Spark Freedom is excited to welcome Dave Kerpen as our guest on our upcoming Spark Session on May 23rd. Dave is the co-founder, along with his wife, of Likeable Social Media, one of the best and most widely-known social media consulting firms in the United States. He is also the New York Time’s Best Selling author of Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business. While Dave often works with large for-profit businesses like Verizon-FIOS, 1-800-Flowers, and Adobe, the principles he advocates often apply to non-profits as well.

During our Spark Session, several Spark Freedom staff members are going to sit down with Dave and discuss how he has seen organizations succeed, ask what non-profits can be doing better on social media, and learn how we can all be more “Likeable.”

Got a question for Dave? Tweet it to him at @DaveKerpen and use #SparkSession! Or just click here:

We will select one Twitter participant who uses #SparkSession to receive a copy of Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business, so ask away!