Washington Life Magazine - September 2016

Page 18


ACTION MADE SOCIAL Jeb Ory and Ximena Hartsock founded Phone2Action to solve a problem. They may have started a movement as well. B Y E VA N J . B E R K O W I T Z


hone2Action “didn’t invent Jeb Ory: Even a handful can social media,” the startup’s raise the level of focus in an co-founder and CEO Jeb Ory office about an issue. It only likes to say — they just “created takes between one and thirty social media advocacy.” Phoposts on social media to get ne2Action allows clients (or the attention of an office, [and] “partners,” per co-founder our own internal metrics show and president Ximena Hartthat a tweet is worth 50 to sock) to use social media and 100 emails depending on the other tools to allow their audioffice. You don’t have to have ences to contact, research and a large group of people if they discuss issues with their own are leveraging social media elected officials. The nonpartichannels [to] get their voices san company had ample partner heard. representation at the convenBERNIE SANDERS BROUGHT HIS tions in Cleveland and PhilaAGENDA TO THE CONVENTION delphia as well. Speaking from AND TRUMP HAS TURNED THE their shiny new digs in Rosslyn GOP’S AGENDA ON ITS’ HEAD. IN (a move Virginia Gov. Terry A CYCLE WITH PARTY PLATFORMS McAuliffe officially inaugurated MORE VISIBLE THAN THEY’VE BEEN at a party July 6), the pair disJeb Ory and Ximena Hartsock of political software startup Phone2Action. IN GENERATIONS, WHERE DOES cussed how the company they (Photo by Tony Powell) P2A COME IN? took from the Bay Area to the District uses new advances to spark action on important issues, elec- JO: We’re seeing a number of campaigns popping up where people are targeting the candidates with platform requests and issues. And that tion year or not. creates an opportunity for people who feel passionately to reach out to Hillary and Trump about what they care about. WHAT IS PHONE2ACTION AND HOW IS IT AN INNOVATOR? Ximena Hartsock: We created Phone2Action out of a problem. I XH: Today more than ever, because of the availability of information, wasn’t trying to build a company, I was actually trying to solve a real politics and advocacy are getting a little bit more connected. Today, problem. One of the issues that we had at the time was that there advocacy is happening digitally and this is where it’s mingling with were no advocacy suites that could provide comprehensive tools for politics. There is a big interest, especially because of the type of elecadvocacy that were also mobile responsive. And also there were no tion that we have that is so controversial that people really are now social media advocacy tools. So what we did was revolutionary in the more interested than ever to make sure that the candidates understand sense that it solved a problem that was a real gap in the core market their issues. at the time. IS IT AN INNOVATION TO BE NONPARTISAN? JO: I think so. WHY IS THE SOCIAL MEDIA LAYER IMPORTANT? XH: What social media advocacy does is that [it] shares that story, the XH: That’s the new party, right? personal story, between the advocate and the elected official. It has the JO: From a technology perspective, providers that focus on one side profile, you know you see the picture. And that picture, that profile, … don’t have the same pressure to innovate. I think what we’re also that person is actually writing the message, and the lawmaker is seeing seeing at a very high level is that there is this new bipartisan — or that. It’s very different than just having a prepopulated form, and … nonpartisanship around issues. That’s exciting to us, because ultimately that is the kind of relationship that you can build through digital people need to be able to weigh in on issues they care about. And grassroots that in the past was impossible. With email, they’re getting people no longer view themselves just as members of one party or the thousands and thousands of emails, but when it comes to Twitter and other, they care about the issues that they care about, and that is cool Facebook, only a few hundred make a lawmaker change their mind. and sexy and exciting.



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