- Collective Agency launched one week after the 2016 elections as a team of professional media creatives dedicated to amplifying the voice of the resistance. Trump had clearly mastered the digital medium all the way to the White House and we were determined not to let that happen again
- We are activist creatives with a values first mission. It is vital that our services be affordable. As such our team has taken huge personal and financial risks to continue the work. The work MATTERS to us.
Because the Collective Agency team exists to create change, when we are forced to deliver campaigns to our clients that we know won’t work, it sucks.
And why won’t they work?
BECAUSE FUCKING FACTS DON’T MATTER!!!!!
To create political change we must convince Americans to TAKE COLLECTIVE ACTIONS (call your senator, canvas, register, march, vote…) Our media campaigns MUST be obsessively focused on inspiring our viewers to take action!
But we struggle with our clients and facts.
Our clients’ policy teams are filled with experts and their donors are exceedingly smart, so they fill their video scripts with Facts, fervently believing that “this one fact is crucial to make our case, this second fact is crucial to make our point….”
But here is the TRUTH.
FACTS DON’T INSPIRE ACTION
NARRATIVE INSPIRES ACTION
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this video, forwarded to me two years ago by our friends at Hands Off Our Revolution. Watch the 1:30 below of David Goldstein (lead pollster for Obama and longtime political consultant)
The most important quote:
…I cannot believe I’m still talking to activists all the time who say we just need to build a truthful news cycle and that will take care of it. The way you counter misinformation is with narrative, emotionally compelling stories, and the fundamental part about emotional, powerful storytelling is that it connects.
What does that mean? And why is it so important?
Great STORYTELLING connects because great storytelling literally changes our brain chemistry .
When we watch an emotional narrative story two things happen in our brains:
- emotional stories activate the parts of our brain that process our understanding of what others are doing (theory of mind)
- emotional stories activate the parts of our brain that t make us feel empathy
Watching a great narrative works this way because it stimulates the release of two chemicals in our brain
- cortisol — which refocuses our attention on something
- oxytocin — which creates feelings of empathy
The more cortisol and oxytocin a person’s brain releases, the more likely they are to take an ACTION. Logical right? When chemicals in our brain are produced that help us to understand and empathize with the story’s subject we are, naturally, moved to take an action.
A fact-based video on the other hand has no effect on our brain chemistry. Therefore, a fact-based video does not produce a desire to take an action. No action and our video campaign has failed.
How does this apply to short social-first videos where we have one minute or less to build a narrative? We have to use creative and narrative discipline to build a storytelling experience in which every frame creates a visual or textual question in our viewers mind. I often call this “authentic clickbait”. We have to tell our visual story in such a way as to keep our audience leaning forward instead of clicking away the moment we allow their attention to wander.
This does not mean there is no place for all of our legitimately crucial facts. When it comes to aligning with a cause, our users make the emotional decision to take action first— and THEN they look for the facts to support their alignment. So they go looking for them where they belong: on our websites, our Medium posts, our graphics, our memes, our newsletters, our social copy.
Perhaps this is something we should share with Robert Mueller?
Many of us have been disappointed with the public reception of the Mueller report, especially those of us who have read the report whohave found that multiple crimes are clearly enumerated.
Could the problem be narrative? According to NY Times reporter Michael Schmidt that is precisely the issue (from his interview on The Daily)
It’s clear from what Mueller has done over the past two years that he thought that if he’d laid things out in writing, the facts would stand for themselves. And here we are two years in, and I’m not sure that has been proven true. We may not live in that era anymore. We may live in a time where you may actually need a bit of a James Comey approach — really drive the narrative behind what you believe the facts are. Because the facts have not always held on their own. And the political winds here are so strong that they may knock down some of the facts and make it harder for what Mueller wanted the message to be to come through.
As we move closer to 2020 it is incumbent upon us, all of us, that we use every communication platform at our disposal in the most effective way. Every dollar, every action, every vote is dependent upon it.
Go out there and TELL YOUR STORY! Or better yet, let us help you do it!