Innovation is the most challenging type of work to be involved in. By nature, it pushes you out of you comfort zones and into an exploration of the unknown. There's great risk, but also great reward.
Web of Change deserves a lot of credit for pushing both myself and my organization to be far more innovative, creative and bold in our online advocacy. The environment created by their retreat sparked many important new ideas, and the few days there helped me to develop some of the most effective campaigns my organization has ever seen. In short, it allowed us to be more accessible to our supporters, offer them meaningful online actions, and gain greater exposure for the important work we’re doing on the ground.
To get concrete, here are just a few of the WOC inspired ideas that we’ve been able to execute:
We took the traditional activist "banner drop" into the digital age by sending activists to stand in view of a webcam featured on the website of Weyerhaeuser—a major international logging company—and unfurl a giant banner demanding respect for indigenous people’s rights. The webcam was being streamed directly onto Weyerhaeuser’s website and we emailed pictures of that broadcast directly to the company’s executives.
- We flooded GM's 100th anniversary "web 2.0" site, gmnext.com, with images of young activists protesting at the Detroit auto show, and overwhelming the site's blogs, chatrooms and content rating systems with our online audience. We forced the company to use the site primarily to respond to our concerns and generated earned media around that fact.
- We co-opted Citibank's customer service "give us your number and we'll call you in 5 minutes" feature. When our supporters received a call back from Citibank, they used the opportunity to voice their concerns surrounding the company's funding of the coal industry.
All this, and a lot more, came from the great conversations at Web of Change. I can't think of a better environment for fostering innovation and taking social activist campaigns to new levels.
Robin Beck is the Online Organizing Program Manager for Rainforest Action Network