My trainings, worksheets, and writing are designed with community organizers, electoral campaigners, member based grassroots organizations, independent media, and the occasional mutual aid project in mind. My ideal reader, trainee, or client is someone who wants to be self sufficient in their narrative work, to not have to rely on a PR or social media consultant in order to use these tools effectively.
I write for Leftists doing a lot (of organizing) with very little (time, energy, and resources).
What is ‘narrative’ anyway?
To me the word narrative just means stories with a goal.
My philosophy of ‘communications’ or ‘narrative strategy’ (ie -- strategic storytelling) is based on 6 years of working with small organizing groups on complicated high stakes campaigns.
My victories and failures over those 6 years make me prioritize three things over everything else: authenticity, consistency, and capacity.
Authenticity: Only say what you believe.
Consistency: Pick one thing and do it regularly for as long as you can. Do fewer things in order to make sure this happens.
Capacity: Use your communications work as a way to grow as an organizer, strategist, and teacher. Don’t do things that don’t move your campaign forward.
I’m not a Communications Director or PR strategist, should I read these?
I hope so: I think the people doing the most work on a campaign are the ones who are best at telling its story. To me, a strong communications strategy is just a strong system for bridging the ‘information gap’ that often builds up in any small low resource project: it’s a way to make sure as many people as possible know what they need to know in order to make decisions.
Who are you?
Most of what I know about digital tactics is from working as a trainer and campaigner at Social Movement Technologies, a formidable resource for digital and narrative organizing strategy.
Most of what I know about group decision making is from doing communications for ONE Northside, particularly around their affordable housing campaigns.
Most of what I know about how embarrassing my press releases used to be is from City Bureau’s reporting fellowship.
Examples, conversations, and case studies in these trainings come from previous and current groups I’ve worked with, including The Center for Story Based Strategy, Means TV, Lift the Ban on Rent Control, ONE People’s Campaign, The Marsha P Johnson Institute, and GetEQUAL.
Do you work with clients?
Yes! I only take on a few clients so I can be as helpful as possible. Usually we start with a facilitated conversation with staff, volunteers, members. Together, we create narrative goals and a plan to achieve those goals based on the group’s unique strengths, capacity, and values. We also set up consistent times when we can check in on progress. Depending on their goals, the group sometimes gets additional coaching or ‘how to’ materials. After the first 2 months, we re-evaluate -- are we on track to meet our narrative goals? Either way, how can we better use our strengths in order to do so?