Online advocacy guru – part 2: continuing conversation with RAD Campaign Partner & Women Who Tech Founder Allyson Kapin

by Jill Foster on December 4, 2008


allyson kapin avatar

Who she is: well for starters, she challenged the White House fax machine
Allyson Kapin, founding partner of the online communications firm RAD Campaign (and also founder of the annual Women Who Tech Telesummit) recently met up to discuss a lot: publicity (and is it all good?); social media tips for small business & ‘the hook’; technology leaders…and more.

Listen while you work: 7 minute audio
Check it out: the whos and whys of WomenWhoTech & how transparency can help control your story (with her take on recent Zappos’ leadership decisions and social media). Hear Allyson’s audio interview but remember – this audio cast only reflects some of her story, not all, so read on to not miss out.

So in 2004, I wrote up a business plan and we launched Rad Campaign in about two months.

Overloading email servers: White House impact to present day
From 2001-2004, I was working on innovative and ground breaking online campaigns for an anti-tobacco organization that recognized the huge potential of the Web as a grassroots organizing and marketing tool. We were recruiting hundreds of thousands of people and were one of the first online campaigns to shut down the White House fax machine and overload their email servers with constituent’s personal letters. While I enjoyed my job there were several other issues that were equally important to me such as climate change, ending homelessness, stem cell research and finding out what causes breast cancer. So in 2004 I wrote up a business plan and we launched Rad Campaign in about two months.

Tips & forecasts: social media for small business
My two big pushes for 2009 are engagement and transparency. If social media is the “new customer service” and a community building tool between advocates and organizations — then organizations need to:

  • -build relationships with target audiences;
  • -invest staff time in developing a presence on online social networks;
  • -listen to your constituents and community;
  • -engage people (and not constantly promote campaigns and products);
  • -recognize that Web 2.0 is a transparent world and embrace it.

For example, start a blog and use it to post your organizations accomplishments and misfortunes. It’s going to come out in the media anyway so you may as well be the first to go on record and talk to your audience.

The Daily Show, etc: earning media for your business
Allyson’s Web campaigns have received strong mainstream coverage from the likes of NPR, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, and CNN. She talks on how that opportunity transpired.

On being timely, going viral, & knowing what’s key
While there is no magic formula we always build in a viral component to our online marketing campaigns to generate earned media. We also try and launch campaigns so that they are timely – meaning the issue is being talked about in the news or it’s coinciding with a print or TV ad campaign. Remember the media is always looking for good stories so if your campaign is timely you have a better shot of the bigger media picking up your campaign – particularly if it has a good hook. Integrating your offline communications with online communications and advertising is key.

Forget the old phrase “Any publicity is good publicity.”

On self-organizing consumers in Web 2.0 (and Motrin)
Before you launch a social media driven campaign understand your target market and their likes, dislikes, and needs. There are too many ad agencies and firms that are old school and live in a box. They are not adapting to a highly engaged Web 2.0 world driven by opinionated consumers who are also influencers. Forget the old phrase “Any publicity is good publicity.” It’s simply not true in the Web 2.0 world where consumers have the power to ridicule bad campaigns and self-organize. The recent Motrin Mom’s campaign is a perfect example.

This year’s event was a smashing success with an all-star lineup including Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post, Lynne Johnson of Fast Company, and Joan Blades, Founder of Moveon.org.

Women Who Tech Telesummit

We are putting together the next Women Who Tech scheduled for March 2009. This year we saw several hundred women in technology from across the country and abroad participating in thought provoking topics like building social capital and working in Open Source. The first telesummit took place this year; and it was a smashing success (note from Jill: “Agreed!”).

Diversity, Web 2.0, and tech leadership
Allyson recently published a Top 10 list of tech leaders, specifically women making major contributions to the field.  What influenced her selections?

It’s always challenging coming up with Top 10 lists because there are just too many innovators doing amazing work.

So I focused on women who are doing inspiring work in technology and Web 2.0 – transforming how we communicate and connect to each other. For example Charlene Li, former VP and Principal Analyst of Forrester Research is not a programmer or software engineer by any means but she is one of the best thought leaders on social technologies. Rebecca Moore on the other hand is a Google Earth software engineer. She spearheads Google’s outreach program using a platform that supports nonprofits, communities and indigenous peoples around the world in applying mapping tools to the world’s pressing problems.

More from:

  • RAD Campaign’s Allyson Kapin & part 1 of our conversation.
Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more posts like this!

Brought to you by Network Solutions®, a Web.com® service.

Related Posts

    • http://www.radcampaign.com Allyson Kapin

      Thanks for the great interview Jill.

    • http://jillfoster.name jillfoster

      It was a pleasure Allyson; thanks for your time & congrats again on Citizen Toolbox.

    • http://bowelcancersymptoms.net Bowel cancer symptoms

      Women Who Tech site is really good by the way. Nice to see community of women in technology professions.

    • http://bowelcancersymptoms.net Bowel cancer symptoms

      Women Who Tech site is really good by the way. Nice to see community of women in technology professions.

    • http://squamouscellcancer.org squamous

      Thank u for the useful article.