The Grassroots Campaigns… Where it all started

On December 4, 2014, the City of Raleigh served a resident a zoning violation with the threat of a $500 per day fine. What was the offense? Listing a spare room on Airbnb’s website. It was clear; a grassroots campaign was needed to protect Raleigh’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Jeff Tippet of Targeted Persuasion was brought in to lead the campaign. He started off by forming a team of local activists to create awareness around the issue. “I looked for people with large networks to help get the word out,” said Jeff. “We wanted to find people with shared reasons to be involved.” This led to early momentum in their effort to change the city’s laws around short-term renting.

The biggest generator of earned media for the campaign was the first town hall meeting which was picked up by local TV and print news outlets. Jeff credits the success of the town hall to the network of activists that came together, and the quality of the panel that was assembled for the event. “We had city councilmen as well as a representative from Airbnb which created more excitement for the town hall,” said Jeff.

Due to the success of the initial campaign to protect the entrepreneurial culture in Raleigh, Airbnb signed an 18-month contract with Targeted Persuasion to do public relations work for Airbnb across North Carolina. Read the complete case study here.

In reflecting on the Airbnb success, Jeff Tippet believes there are three key questions that should drive any grassroots campaign:

  • Are you talking to the right people?
    Quality over quantity is the name of the game. It’s best to work backwards from the roots and think about who wants to hear your message. Throughout the campaign, it’s important to always reflect on your success in reaching the right people in the most effective way.
  • Do you have the right message?
    Make sure you are talking about something your audience cares about in language they can understand. Remember, people are loss-averse, so instead of telling them everything they can gain from your campaign, tell them what they stand to lose.
  • What are you asking the audience to do with your message?
    Make sure you have a specific ask for your audience. If you want them to donate, make it fast and easy. If you need them to volunteer, be ready to sign them up for a shift while they’re still on the phone.

Jeff has always been passionate about his work with politicians and political organizations, but the work with Airbnb helped launch the public affairs chapter of Targeted Persuasion’s history. If you need help with a grassroots campaign, contact Targeted Persuasion today.