New Senior Vice President Joins Beekeeper Group

Tom Donnelly

Beekeeper Group is thrilled to welcome Tom Donnelly to the team. With his breadth of knowledge ranging from digital campaigns and social media strategy to issues management, advocacy, and grassroots, Tom has already become an asset to the Hive.

Tom has more than 30 years of experience in government relations and public affairs andhas served in senior leadership roles at MXM SocialCQ Roll Call and Ketchum Public Relations. Most recently, he served as President of the public affairs and marketing firm, Clout Digital. Before that, he was Vice President of Public Affairs at MXM Social, where he was instrumental in the management of digital advocacy campaigns during the 2012 presidential election.

Tom also brings with him a deep understanding of the technology behind the tools needed to manage large public policy campaigns. As a director for CQ Roll Call’s Advocacy & Engagement practice he led efforts on enhancements to its flagship state legislative tracking service and grassroots and advocacy tools. In 2001, Tom co-founded Illumen, a start-up digital public affairs company that combined targeted news and legislative content with advocacy tools and techniques. Illumen was later acquired by CQ Roll Call.

Joining Tom in the ‘newbee’ club are Katie Loperfido, Sam Bays and Rebecca Moore. Katie hails from JDA Frontline, where she served as Assistant Digital Director of Communication. She joins Beekeeper as an Account Manager. Sam Bays, Beekeeper’s new Marketing Specialist, worked previously on the launch of the digital communications practice for McBee Strategic Consulting. Rebecca previously worked as an Associate for MWW Group. She joins Beekeeper as a Research Assistant.

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All about bees | Career Growth | Press Coverage | Uncategorized

Lego Film & Beekeeper

Each February Beekeeper Group sends The Bee down to sunny Florida to take part in the National Grassroots and National PAC Conferences. Advocacy professionals from across the country gather to share their experiences and learn about what’s percolating in the world of advocacy.

Attendees have gotten into the tradition of creating short video spots introducing their agencies to one another, ideally to showcase their penchant for creativity. You might remember our submission from last year, Postcards From Key West.

It just so happens that this year’s conferences coincide with the release of the LEGO movie, and we got to thinking. How could we share our excitement for Miami (the conferences’ location) while channeling our passion for Lego brickfilm?

With a Lego Miami Vice recreation, obviously.

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Six Months Later – How Gmail Tabs are Affecting Your Email Marketing

In June, we told you about the potential effects of the new tab system Google put in place to help Gmail users manage their inboxes. At the time, many in the digital advocacy community were worried that the new email management system would relegate email messages sent from campaigns to forgotten tabs in users’ inboxes. This is the result of advocacy emails containing unsubscribe links within the content.

Six months later, it’s still too early to tell, but results seem to imply that the change has had little effect on open rates in the last few months. In the article ‘Gmail Tabs Not Slimming Email Just Yet,’ author Patrick Sullivan writes that the email service provider, MailChimp, “analyzed approximately 1.5 billion emails from three weeks before tabs rolled out and three weeks after. It found that open rates dropped from about 13 percent pre-tabs to just more than 12 percent post-tabs.”

Also of note, a research study from Litmus, an email testing firm, showed that 66 percent of Gmail users read their emails on a mobile device. According to the report, “though Gmail has an iOS app for iPhones and iPads, the most popular option, Apple’s default mobile mail, is used by 34 percent of Gmail users, and tabs are not supported by the default mail.”

While these results seems promising for the digital advocacy world, ultimately, more comprehensive data is still required to definitively say whether this has had a real effect on campaigns. Answer is- not much.

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Is Your Advocacy Campaign A Charlatan, Martyr, or a Hustler?

Who Are You?

Best known for his imaginative ceramic speakers, San Francisco based industrial designer Joey Roth has a something of a unique take on design philosophy. As a part of a series of posters espousing his rules to design, Roth takes a look at three different approaches to the execution and realization of ideas: the Charlatan, the Martyr, and the Hustler.

Roth’s visual metaphors lend themselves to conceptualizing how to strike the perfect balance between talking about an idea and working towards turning that idea into a tangible product.

The Charlatan, all talk and minimal work, can barely stand to support the weight of itself.

The Martyr, firmly planted on a strong foundation of work, goes relatively unnoticed in not promoting its efforts effectively enough.

The Hustler, Roth’s idea of the perfect balance, spends a proportionate amount of working–hustling, if you will–promoting said hustling, and ultimately existing in a space of creative equilibrium sure to generate amazing results.

In an ideal world every advocacy campaign is a Hustler at heart, and the Charlatan and Martyr’s respective pitfalls are obvious things to avoid. Realistically speaking, however, elements of the less ideal models lurk somewhere within every campaign. As advocates and creators it’s up to us to find that happy medium–that stellar advocacy day coupled with a wildly successful hashtag–in order to maximize our impact.

How do you infuse the Hustler spirit into your advocacy efforts? Let us know in the comments below!


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Pew Study: ⅓ of Internet Users Are Creating Video Content

You may have heard this buzzing around the web but online video (spoiler alert) is kind of a big deal.

In 2009 only 14 percent of users reported that they posted video content online. That number has since spiked to just over 31 percent according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Pew attributes the more than doubling in online video creation to increased popularity of video sharing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo as well as the proliferation of microvideo sharing apps like Vine and Instagram.

While none of this news is exactly shocking, it does point to a fundamental way in which online video-based messaging for advocacy is going to need to change in the near future.

Traditional advocacy campaign videos have shared their message with the hopes that viewers, being receptive to the stories, will reach out and engage through action and support. While that’s well and good, these statistics suggest that now, more than ever, people are ready and willing to create their own content.

Why not harness the power of this burgeoning trend and use it to bolster advocacy messaging? Rather than making outreach, engagement, and participation the last steps of your campaign, perhaps it’s time to start making them the first.

We’re certainly creating video content here at the Hive. What about you? Link us to some of your best Vine and Instagram videos in the comments below.

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Henri Makembe, Recipient of Campaigns & Elections’ Rising Star Award

In recognition of “the best and the brightest in the political industry,” Campaigns & Elections awarded one of their 25 ‘Rising Star’ awards to Beekeeper Group’s own Henri Makembe. Along with his fellow recipients, Henri was recently honored at C&E’s annual conference here in Washington, D.C.

The full C&E article is available here, and more information about Henri may be located on our website.


Henri Makembe and his wife, Miriam Sznycer-Taub, pose with Henri’s Rising Star award at Campaigns & Elections’ annual conference in Washington, D.C.


Matthew Zablud, Travis Gianchetta, Henri Makembe, and Mike Panetta, Partners at Beekeeper Group, pose with Henri’s Rising Star award at Campaigns & Elections’ annual conference in Washington, D.C.

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Auteur Theory For Advocacy

The Bee Auteur

In many ways creating an effective advocacy campaign is a lot like producing a compelling film. From scripting to casting to branding to advertising, there are countless steps between a film’s conception and its final distribution. The same is true of advocacy campaigns.  Both endeavors are highly creatively undertakings that are the result large teams of people working to create one final product.

As is true with any project involving many creative people collaborating, an advocacy campaign’s message can go through countless transformations and interpretations. This isn’t a bad thing per se, but when advocating for a specific cause it’s important that your campaign in its entirety is working to realize your vision. But how can a single person or organization’s vision be executed by a team of dozens of people creating a diverse array of multimedia web content?

Enter auteur theory.

The brainchild of film critics and directors like Jon-Luc Goddard and Francois Truffaut writing for Cahiers du Cinema, auteur theory is an emblematic representation of French New Wave cinema. The theory argues that in spite of the multitude of external factors that influence a film’s creation it is the director—or auteur—whose vision most powerfully shapes a film from beginning to end.

By seeing the parallels between advocacy campaigns and films, it becomes possible to recognize some of the hallmarks of auteur theory as invaluable lessons for the creation of truly compelling advocacy.

Wield Your Pen

The “camera-stylo” (camera-pen) component of auteur theory urges directors to wield their cameras the way writers wield their pens. The same methods of action apply to the creators of advocacy campaigns. Rather than seeing a public affairs firm as a means of outsourcing creation and labor, they must view the firms they’re working with as extensions of themselves.


It is an auteur’s vision that defines their unique style of filmmaking. More than acting just as a calling card, however, an auteur’s vision sets the tone for their audience’s relationship to their art. The ways in which an organization decides to frame its issue sets the tone for how its activists engage with the cause. Guide your followers by focusing your vision on a specific tone.

Body of Work

The auteur’s mark can be seen throughout their oeuvre, or body of work. In each piece their vision is reflected in the film’s narrative style and aesthetic. Though advocacy campaigns tend to aim towards one specific goal or rallying action, it isn’t enough to launch a campaign and call it a job well done. More than just maintaining a message, advocates should find new avenues to spread their initial vision in other mediums, keeping their causes message alive and demonstrating their continued commitment to it.

Are you an advocacy-loving film theory wonk too? Let us know in the comments and share with us how you’ve unleashed your inner auteur.

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4 Lessons about Video Mojo We Can Learn from Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches

Here at the Hive, we are often confronted with the question: How do you make a video ‘go’ viral? We may cringe at the phrase, but the fact is the goal in developing any creative content – whether a video, infographic, or animation – is always to make it spread to the largest possible audience. The truth is there is no formula for making a video spread like wildfire. As my colleague, Shana, says, “There’s no ‘viral’ button” that we can push.

There may not be a viral button, but there are a few lessons we can learn from the most watched video ad ever: Dove Real Beauty Sketches. Published on YouTube in April, Dove Real Beauty Sketches received more than 114 million total views in its first month.

Dove’s three-minute video ad used a forensic sketch artist to draw two images of each woman, the first based on the woman’s self-perception and the second based on the perception of a stranger. The two drawings are revealed to the women; the drawing based on the stranger’s perception being more “attractive and similar” to the woman’s actual appearance.  In three minutes, Dove’s message for women was poignant. So, what was the secret to their success?

In order to insure a video’s popularity on social channels, it must not only entertain and inform viewers, but it must also inspire them enough to pass it on. Business Insider calls this “sharability.” Viewers were inspired to pass on Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches because:

·         Creativity. What could an FBI-trained artist have to do with Dove? By using an innovative, unanticipated means of spreading their message, Dove managed to keep viewers engaged, intrigued, and surprised throughout their video ad.

·         Emotion. Dove’s video allows viewers to recognize, sympathize, and relate to the women and their reactions during the sketching process. The emotional connection between the women and viewers made Dove’s message just as relevant to viewers as it was to the women who were sketched.

·         Thought-provoking.  After the drawings are revealed to the women, viewers are left considering their own self-perception and questioning why the self-perception of the sketched women was overly critical. When a video such as Dove’s inspires viewers to ask questions and to consider themselves in the context of a group’s mission, a conversation is born.

·         Call to action. Hoping their video had inspired viewers to tackle the issue their real beauty sketches addressed, Dove asks viewers to spread the message with the #WeAreBeautiful hashtag.

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches teaches us that to make a video resonate we need to get creative, speak to viewers’ emotions, inspire them to reflect on our message, and ask them to share our mission.

What suggestions do you have for making a video successful? Feel free to share them below!

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Looking to Simplify Your Lobby Day?

Planning a lobby day, fly-in or summit for your organization can be a daunting prospect. Preparing materials for your members shouldn’t be, though. This is where the idea for Lobby Day, our award-winning app available for iOS and Android, was borne.

Have you seen our Lobby Day app? We’ve created a smartphone app that provides instant access to all of your lobby day essentials. Built-in maps, Congressional directories, talking points, event schedules and social sharing tools are at your advocate’s fingertips when they’re using Lobby Day.

This tool has proven to be an indispensable part of multiple organizations’ lobby day toolkit.

Beekeeper Group's Lobby Day App Splash Page

Beekeeper Group’s Lobby Day App Splash Page

But to keep this post informative and not just about our nifty product, below are some tips and tricks for a successful Day on the Hill with your advocates. If you’re coming to the next Advocacy Leaders Network event, you’ll learn even more on this topic!

What is a lobby day?

  • An annual legislative event designed to motivate and educate Congress members, their staff and organization representatives on important issues facing that group’s issue areas.
  • Also known as a, ‘fly-in,’ ‘advocacy day,’ ‘annual summit,’ or ‘Hill day.’
  • Includes opportunities for participants to discuss advocacy activities and grassroots efforts, in addition to learning from keynote speakers and legislative experts.


  • Participants on the ground who use the app as a real-time lobbying guide, using the Capitol Hill map to steer them to their congressperson’s office, the talking points to stay on message, and the social media sharing options to check-in and update their status.
  • The app can be downloaded by anyone, not just those making the trek to the nation’s capital. With the optional integrated “Take Action” feature, users can send a letter to their representative right from their phone. 


  • Spring is an optimal time of year to hold a lobby day, as new representatives have been sworn in and are ripe for relationship building.
  • Be warned, though– too many organizations jockeying for time with their representatives during the same day or week could leave your organization with too few windows of time in which to schedule meetings.
  • Keep in mind the Capitol Hill session schedule. Congress is rarely in session in August, for example, so scheduling hundreds of people to fly to Washington in mid-August may not be ideal.


  • Prepare your members and ensure that they’ll speak passionately about your issues to their Members of Congress.
  • Scheduling Capitol Hill meetings, preparing talking points, creating Hill guides, shooting videos and generating flyers and leave-behinds can fill binders with reams of paper, cost a fortune to produce, and can be cumbersome to drag around Capitol Hill. For years, this has been the traditional method of preparing for a lobby day.
  • Shameless plug: use the Lobby Day app to simplify your fly-in.

Lobby Day allows organizations to streamline their messaging with direct access to talking points, advocacy videos and schedules all in their advocates’ hands, encouraging them to rally behind your cause and to stay on message. This tool also helps save organizations on printing costs, eliminating the need to re-print materials whenever there is a minor change.

Smartphones aren’t just for surfing the web, checking email and texting. Lobby Day brings your activism into the 21st century, and puts advocacy tools into the pocket of every activist.

Get your iPhone or Android out, it’s time to lobby!

Want to know more? Get in touch with us to learn more about how Lobby Day can help your fly-in succeed!

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How Do Your Non-profit Digital Metrics Stack Up?

Every year, we eagerly await the updated M+R Benchmark Report, an in-depth look at digital performance metrics for non-profits, advocacy organizations and fundraisers of all types. The 2013 report reflects analysis for the year 2012.

What does it say about Beekeeper Group that this kind of thing excites us? For many of our clients, we focus tremendous energy on developing and analyzing the online landscape in their industry or issue area. The M+R data is invaluable when comparing our clients against industry benchmarks.

We view the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study from M+R as a comprehensive way to provide context to an organization’s outgoing email message performance, social media analytics and overall digital communications. After some light reading, we’re sharing our top three takeaways, challenges and recommended solutions to follow:

1) Click-through rates for 2012 dropped. 

The 2013 report shows a drop in email click-through rates for advocacy messaging by 14% over the previous year to just 3.7% in 2012.

Challenge: Just like us, message recipients are inundated by email every day.

Solution:  Organizations should view digital communications as part of a comprehensive strategy and work to create inspiring messaging and calls to action.

2) Open rates fell slightly for advocacy messaging.

Overall, advocacy messaging saw a 14% open rate in 2012, also dropping from a 17% open rate in 2011.

Challenge:  Recipients are not opening as much email as they used to. They’re savvier at using the Web and want bite-size messages.

Solution:  Rather than sending a message to an entire distribution list, organizations should focus their messaging on small, well-targeted and -segmented groups of highly interested parties to increase their open rates. (This should encourage a higher click-rate, too.)

3) Social media audiences are growing faster than email lists.

In 2012, the average organization saw a 46% median increase in Facebook fans, while Twitter followers increased on average by 264%. The average email list size grew by just 15%.

Challenge:  If organizations do not leverage messaging through their social web presence, then they are at risk of not reaching their audiences.

Solution:  As users migrate toward the multitude of social platforms on the web, organizations should be careful not to be over-reliant on e-mail to drive their advocacy. They should instead focus on integrating and coordinating calls-to-action across platforms.

For full analysis and 44 pages of data, download the full M+R report here.

Additionally, you can add your own comments about the report on Twitter by using the #2013Bench hashtag, or see what others are saying here.

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