I was really impressed at [ReThink’s] ability to come together across the stovepipes that had kept us from working together in the past. For the first time, I felt like we were speaking with one voice… All of these groups are working on different remedies… but this is the first time that I felt like we were all in this together, instead of getting stuck in different realities.
In 2013, before launching a new collaborative, ReThink Media conducted a benchmark audit of media coverage about money in politics. This audit found that, among other things, the money-in-politics community talked extensively about the problem of big money, but not nearly enough about solutions to the problem. And when it was talking about solutions, it was talking about a whole slew of solutions, with competing ideas and different messaging.
The benchmark audit also found that the online conversation was cacophonous, spread across 35 hashtags on Twitter, with a peak of about 1,500 tweets per day.
Unified Twitter activity helped bring news of the McCutcheon decision to a much wider audience.
So when the US Supreme Court heard McCutcheon v. FEC, which challenged the aggregate limit individuals could donate to candidates for federal office, political parties, and political action committees, the community needed to align around messages that also pointed to solutions. ReThink helped the community rally around one hashtag, #McCutcheon, to unify their posts into a single stream that was easy for others to tune into. From there, groups could pivot to their policy solutions.
On the day of the McCutcheon oral arguments, there were approximately 1,500 tweets per hour talking about the case and about 12,000 tweets overall. The results of a more cohesive, community-wide effort were proof enough to bring advocacy organizations together to form a joint strategy around the Supreme Court’s decision, which paid even greater dividends.
The day of the decision, we saw a peak of 60,000 tweets with a potential 151.7 million impressions. While groups drove a drumbeat of criticism about the decision, they also worked together, informed by our messaging research, to propose policy solutions.