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Virtuality Reality, 360 Video and What They Mean for Activism

By Rob Swanger

This Spring, the New York Times shipped 1.2 million Google Cardboard units to their subscribers along with instructions to download an app to view a short documentary presented with immersive virtual reality video. It was their goal to introduce the possibilities of VR as a new way to tell to a story. The app turned out to be the publication’s most popular to date.

“Virtual reality” and “3-D” have been around for decades, but have existed largely as a gimmick to sell toys and movie tickets. Now, VR is growing up. Products like Google Cardboard are leading the world into a new frontier of entertainment and engagement.

Facebook recently acquired virtual reality company Oculus for $2 billion and partnered with Samsung to release the GearVR, a headset designed to display VR images and audio. Google already introduced a 360 Video channel on YouTube, and this fall the tech giant will launch its new VR platform, Daydream, and is already retooling popular apps like Maps and Play for VR.

Device manufacturers are scrambling to accommodate Google’s VR apps on their upcoming models. Limited-permissions versions of the SDK VR API (which will power Daydream) are already available for developers eager to build the first blockbuster VR app.

Social media platforms, strategists and advertisers have taken notice, too. They are already looking for ways that VR can help sell products, services and messages. Facebook began introducing 3D video ads last November and Snapchat acquired an app that will allow VR and 360 video capabilities.

Our advantage as progressives is our ability use storytelling to our advantage. Narratives presenting real-life problems and human examples of injustice create a sense of empathy and compassion that drives people to action. As we work to tell these stories, existing technology allows us to create media that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. However, despite the sharpness, intricacy and clarity we’re able to produce, we’re still limited by a rigid divide between the user and the narrative we’re trying to convey.

VR may be a way to reach a broader audience on a far deeper level, allowing people to see the world through new eyes or identify with a story that is all too familiar. A VR experience could depict a day in the life of a single-mother, the user surrounded by the commotion of a high-stress, low-wage service job or rushing home to prepare dinner for her children.

Or maybe VR is a way for white, male allies to experience the fear of an African American trying to survive a traffic stop, or a woman walking down a city street through a gauntlet of stares, catcalls and lewd propositions. Perhaps we could even better understand the world through the eyes of a Trump supporter!

While all these things are possible through existing mediums, a heightened simulation offers a powerful experience that is more likely to stay with the user even after the video ends. The saliency of the VR experience may convert to more shares, sign-ups and donations, but the impact on memory also suggests more repeat views and improved retargeting.

The jury on VR is still out, but the fact that some of the biggest players in tech are investing so many resources seems fortuitous, and certainly has us thinking of new ways to share the message of progress.

MSEA Digital Endorsement Hub Returns for 2016

Downballot website helped to elect 71% of endorsed candidates in 2014


By Rob Swanger

In March, Revolution Messaging and the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) announced the re-launch of, a digital candidate endorsement hub, updated and rebranded for the 2016 election cycle.


Since its first iteration, has been a special project. It illustrates that while we take pride in innovation, we also believe in sticking with what works. Sometimes that means improving an outdated method rather than replacing it.

Traditionally, MSEA distributed paper ballots to promote education-friendly candidates. The apple ballots were popular with MSEA members, but for the 2014 election cycle, the group wanted a modernized and more strategic endorsement campaign. Our solution was to replace ink and paper with an interactive website. The result was the award-winning


The 2014 project demanded a unique blend of design, development and data management. The website featured a zip code lookup for individuals to discover educator-endorsed candidates in their area and a sign up to receive reminders closer to Election Day or to volunteer.

We developed a full campaign strategy to promote the website, including a media plan and creative for online display, video and mobile. The advertising message urged members to vote for local political candidates who would support the association’s goals.

The site also became the central landing page for videos, ads, direct mail and SMS communications. Thirty-three percent of visitors retrieved their apple ballot, and unique source codes were given to county education associations to track traffic. Digital ads targeted likely supporters of key candidates and saw an excellent clickthrough rate of 1.27 percent in more than 18 different races. contributed to the success of MSEA-endorsed candidates, driving votes despite a wave Democratic defeats all over the country. Eighty-six percent of MSEA-endorsed candidates won in the June primary, and 71 percent of endorsed candidates won in the November 2014 election.

With threats to public education stronger than ever, we’re looking forward to seeing in action for 2016.

Ask us about how digital endorsement technology can help drive votes for your downballot races.

Not Using Snapchat? You Should Be.

By Loren Merchan

I first attempted to use Snapchat in December of 2014 as a way to bond with my 20-year-old brother. I was 25 at the time and by no means considered myself too old or technologically challenged to use this new app. I was wrong. Snapchat was confusing, unintuitive, and just not something I needed with SO MANY other social media platforms out there. I quickly deleted it, but a year later, it was the main form of communication for many of my friends and co-workers. I had no choice but to adapt.

By December of 2015 I was using it daily, and now Snapchat is my go-to way to communicate with friends. It’s the platform I WANT to check and update–no prompting needed–and it’s the first (often only) place I share photos and videos. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have become afterthoughts.

And I’m not alone. Snapchat recently surpassed Twitter in active daily users. Over just five months, its daily users grew from 110 million to 150 million (an increase of about 35%). Snapchat users also spend more time in the app than Instagram and Facebook’s other premiere apps (WhatsApp and Messenger)–on average 25-30 minutes–which means more time for them to engage with advertising.


Meanwhile, Facebook has tried everything to keep up. After trying to buy the company for $3 billion they began retooling their own video apps and recently purchased MSQRD to incorporate Snapchat-esque filters. Despite these changes, the platform has surpassed Facebook in daily video views. While Facebook boasts a respectable eight billion daily video views, Snapchat reports over ten billion video views per day, up 400% since 2015.


Snapchat’s growth in the video space presents a huge opportunity for advertisers to take advantage of the platform’s more traditional video ads in addition to sponsored filters and lenses.

500,000 to 1,000,000 impressions per day speak for themselves, but what makes Snapchat unique is an empowered user experience.

A viewer chooses to engage either by pressing to view someone else’s photo/video or by interacting with a sponsored filter. This adds an incredible value to every view and use. Your brand is much more likely to stick with someone who voluntarily engages with it for several seconds rather than simply seeing an ad on the side of their screen. Additionally, Snapchat photos and videos that use sponsored filters are often shared on other social media platforms adding cross-platform appeal.

Snapchat has graduated to a wider user base where new users quickly become regular and uniquely engaged users, providing a valuable opportunity to reach a large and captive audience.

Whether we like it or not, Snapchat is here to stay, so join the party.

Now Hiring: Executive Administrative Assistant

We are an exciting start-up political technology company that is seeking an Executive Administrative Assistant. The position will interface with all senior members of leadership, office manager, team leaders, as well as directly client facing. As the Executive Administrative Assistant, you will learn about our clients and the technology Revolution Messaging offers, assisting with sales, presentations, proposals, scheduling and travel. As part of the position, you will be responsible for problem solving, organizing and preparing talking points.

As the role evolves you will be given more and more client work, as well as more access to confidential information pertaining to different clients and staff issues. Revolution Messaging specializes in rapid response and crisis communications, and you will be responsible for checking emails and being on-call or having someone on-call when you are not available. Pay is competitive, hours are long and work is rewarding.

About Us
Revolution Messaging, founded in 2009 in Washington D.C. by key members of the 2008 Obama campaign, is a leader in cutting-edge progressive strategies for a mobile world. Our clients include government agencies, nonprofit groups, unions and political campaigns and candidates. Revolution Messaging specializes in a bevy of in-house digital strategies, including mobile, advertising, social media, video, creative, fundraising and web development.

Revolution Messaging is an Equal Opportunity Employer. It is Revolution Messaging’s policy to recruit, hire, train and promote individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, length of time spent unemployed, as well as other classifications protected by applicable laws.

In addition to a competitive salary (commensurate with experience), employees of Revolution Messaging enjoy health insurance, two weeks of vacation, paid sick leave, and the opportunity to join relevant conferences and trainings.

How to Apply / Contact
Interested candidates should submit their resume and cover letter to

Building Progressive.Work

Browsing the API parts bin to quickly build a modern, featureful Franken-app


By Gabe Hammersmith

Two weeks ago we launched Progressive.Work – a new tool for connecting job seekers with employers fighting for progressive causes. While we’re thrilled to provide an important resource to the progressive community, we’re also excited about the technology we used to build out the platform.

To achieve our objective of becoming progressive vocational matchmakers, we laid four basic requirements to guide our technology decisions.



1. Serve content from a headless CMS

Content is king. This was true on stone tablets, silk scrolls and printed paper; it remains true of today’s digital media. Unlike stone tablets, we no longer need to marry our content to the medium, but even in 2016, that’s exactly what many CMSs still do. Enter Contentful, a headless CMS that divorces content from the medium. The main benefits of a headless CMS are future proofing and flexibility in content display, as Chris Coyier explains wonderfully in this blog post. Content can be entered once and subsequently displayed on a website powered by Javascript, an iOS app written in Swift, or on any other internet-connected device capable of consuming a RESTful JSON API… even this refrigerator.

2. Notifications

For the initial release of Progressive.Work, we identified two events and two groups of people to be notified of certain events.

First, we wanted to notify job seekers whenever a new job was posted. For this, we used our custom SMS platform, Revere Mobile, to send SMS notifications. We used metadata collected in the sign-up process to ensure job seekers were only notified when jobs were posted in their specific field of work.

Second, we wanted to notify our hiring managers (AKA Team Progressive.Work) when new resumes were submitted to our bank. Once again, we looked to the APIs offered by our existing tools for a solution. Our favorite team collaboration platform, Slack, came to the rescue. Slack’s API allowed us to create the Progressive Work Bot, who dutifully alerts us to new Progressive.Work resume uploads in our #resumes channel.

3. Amass a searchable resume bank.

To deliver this feature, we looked to Dropbox, which is already a trusted tool in the Revolution Messaging toolbelt. While Dropbox will gladly handle simple static file storage, its real advantage over the AWS S3 de facto standard is Dropbox’s robust “Full Text Search” feature. This allows us to not only search for text within a filename, but also search the contents of text in the resumes collected. In other words, we can search for a string like “Florida field Spanish” to (hopefully) return the resumes of candidates who have field experience, speak Spanish, and have ties to Florida. Dropbox’s API allowed us to seamlessly blend these features into our application and existing workflow.

4. Remove human interaction; automate wherever possible.

Revolution Messaging offers many services, but head hunting isn’t one of them. Progressive.Work could best be described as a “20% time” labor of love. Given this time constraint, the project’s success hinged upon the bulk of the work being automated in the cloud. To quickly deliver the features described above, we needed some glue to hold the third-party integrations together. Our solution was a Node.js middleware application to power the Progressive.Work signup form. When a new user clicks the “submit” button, the app stores the data, then makes an API call to Revere Mobile to send the user a welcome text message and collect metadata about the types of jobs the user is looking for. It makes a second API call to notify Slack of the new resume submission, and finally a 3rd call to Dropbox to store the resume. The second half of the automation came from Contentful’s webhooks. Every time a new job is posted, Contentful triggers a deploy on our Jenkins server which compiles the code, deploys it to the origin server, and clears the edge cache at Cloudflare. Lastly, the deploy process queues up an SMS message in Revere Mobile to notify job seekers of the new opening in their field.

Publicly exposed APIs and modern web-building technologies enabled us to offer an essential resource on short notice. We are proud to be able to lend a hand to our progressive partners and friends, and we are incredibly excited about the opportunities for future expansion made possible by this versatile foundation.

Sharing Thoughts On The Tragedy in Orlando

Nearly a year ago, Revolution Messaging joined most of the country in celebrating the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. After this weekend’s tragic events in Orlando, we join our LGBTQ staff, our friends, our families, and the broader LGBTQ community in mourning.

In the aftermath of the attack, much has been said about the difference between terror and hate, but what is terror if not hate fully realized and enacted against a group of people simply for what they believe, how they self-identify, or who they love?

Just as hatred drives people to lash out on social media, put forward racist platforms, propose legislation banning people from bathrooms matching their gender identity, or block employment protections for LGBTQ workers, it can also manifest itself in mass violence when combined with easy access to assault weapons.

It is Revolution Messaging’s mission to use digital platforms to support organizations and candidates in their work toward equality, inclusivity, and cultural and legislative change. Together, we can prevent atrocities like the shooting in Orlando.

In addition, we fight against complacency. Too often, activism stops at social media posts and memory ends as the next news cycle begins. As activists, we cannot change unjust policy and attitudes without the emotional investment of the people we reach. Together with our clients, we will redouble our efforts to spark conversation that will further a culture of acceptance.

June 12th will be a landmark date, but let’s not let it become the sort of memorial we think about only one day a year. As we stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ team members, friends, and loved ones, let’s honor them and the Orlando victims by renewing our efforts to end the culture of homophobia that begets hate crimes, and pass comprehensive, common-sense gun reform.

Please help the families of the victims by donating through Equality Florida here

Meet Progressive.Work

Today we are proud to announce the launch of Progressive.Work, a site for connecting job seekers with employers fighting for progressive causes.

As the primary season nears its end, the Sanders campaign has required fewer staff members. However, these dedicated campaigners have invaluable experience and have much to offer other progressive campaigns that are just ramping up for 2016, as well as progressive organizations and non-profits. In the past, volunteers from the progressive community have shared Google spreadsheets or other temporary makeshift lists to help connect those recently unemployed with jobs. Revolution Messaging wanted to find a better way.

Progressive.Work gives us a way to more efficiently and effectively play matchmaker between progressive professionals and progressive campaigns and organizations that would benefit from their experience. While inspired by our desire to help our friends coming off the Sanders campaign, Progressive.Work is built to be a permanent solution that we hope will help progressives well beyond 2016.

At Progressive.Work, job-seekers can upload their resumes and provide their cell phone number to access the jobs board. After signing up, job seekers are notified by text message as new jobs in their field are posted.

Do you have a progressive job post to share? We’re inviting companies to submit your job listings and save the time you’d usually spend sorting stacks of resumes and navigating makeshift spreadsheets in search of a qualified prospect. Click here to get started.

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Three Lessons from the 2-Year-Old Myspace Hack

By Gabe Hammersmith

Last week, more than 300 million Myspace usernames and passwords were made available on the open internet. On the surface, this Myspace hack sounds about as concerning as learning that someone broke into your former college apartment to steal the black light poster that you left hanging on the wall. Yet for some, this hack will be devastating, with ill-effects extending far beyond the walls of the Myspace time capsule. Here are three best practices to keep ALL of your digital accounts secure, regardless of whether you’ve ever owned or operated a Myspace account.

1. Use ultra-long, super-complex passwords.

If a password is simple enough to commit to memory, it is likely crackable within hours (if not minutes) on consumer-grade hardware. Most websites should have protections to prevent a hacker from using this type of brute force attack at the login screen, but this only works if the website doesn’t fall victim to a more sophisticated attack, as Myspace did. Sadly, these high-level attacks are becoming increasingly common and are almost always accompanied by a public leak of account information, which brings up my second best practice:

2. Never use the same password twice.

Stale logins and passwords from Myspace command thousands of dollars on the black market, because hackers know that many of the credentials have been reused someplace more lucrative such as Facebook, Amazon or Bank of America. Memorizing dozens of nonsensical passwords is nearly impossible, which is why Revolution Messaging recommends using a password manager. (Such as 1Password by AgileBits). Most folks on our team have dozens (even hundreds) of digital accounts, but using a password manager only requires them to commit one password to memory.

3. Delete your unused accounts.

In the world of information security, this is known as decreasing the attack surface. To put it simply: data can’t be stolen if it doesn’t exist. Hacks are rarely as dramatic as they are portrayed on tv. More often than not, they start by collecting small pieces of information from the dark and forgotten corners of our digital lives and using that seemingly benign data to slowly and methodically gain escalated access. An attacker may use data collected from the Myspace breach to guess answers to security questions for an e-mail account. He or she could in turn use this access to reset passwords across the web, making use of those nifty “I forgot my password” links found near most login forms.

Data breaches are an unavoidable side effect of our increased reliance on the advanced tools of the digital world. Following these three simple steps could be the difference between a minor annoyance and a life-halting heartache when the next hack makes headlines.

Khadija Released: A Victory for Journalistic Freedom

By Rob Swanger

Revolution Messaging is thrilled to celebrate the May 25 release of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova from an Azerbaijani prison.

Khadija was imprisoned by the Azerbaijani government in December 2014 in retaliation for her investigation of high-level corruption in the Azerbaijani government and the family of President Ilham Aliev. Her imprisonment is part of a vicious pattern of reactionary intimidation against journalists that also includes blackmail, harassment and physical violence.

Nearly half the world’s population is blinded from truth because oppressive governments actively stifle the press. It is the role of journalists to present objective truth to a country’s citizens, but as we see in cases like Khadija’s, their work is too often challenged by monumental danger.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is an advocacy group dedicated to the idea that democracy cannot exist without freedom of thought, and the freedom to challenge authority. It’s their mission to expose corrupt governments and clear the path for journalists like Khadija.

Revolution Messaging worked with RSF to tell Khadija’s story and to raise awareness around the issue of institutional restriction of the press. We produced a video featuring activist and human rights attorney Amal Clooney in which she described Khadija’s work in Azerbaijan, and the price Khadija paid for doing it.

When Khadija was finally freed, it was important that her story not be forgotten. To optimize video viewership, Revolution Messaging built to further explain Khadija’s imprisonment, her narrow path to justice, and the threats her colleagues face throughout the world.

The site was equipped with an email signup form inviting supporters to celebrate Khadija’s freedom. The signups served the dual purpose of building a powerful email list that can now be used to gather donations that will help RSF free other journalists.

Revolution Messaging attracted potential supporters by running a digital advertising campaign that delivered targeted ads via social media and retargeted previous visitors to maximize participation.

Khadija’s long-awaited freedom represents more than just a digital success story. It proves that through the power of storytelling, outreach and engagement, people can join together and bend even the most oppressive government toward justice.

Now Hiring: Digital Production Associate

Revolution Messaging is hiring a full-time Digital Production Associate to join our campaigns team in Washington, D.C. That means you’ll be coding content and helping to analyze statistics for several of our amazing clients. You will be part of an experienced team that has a focus on raising money and engaging supporters your candidates need to win. And the best part is that you will be working for some of the most progressive candidates and organizations in the country and on some of the most important and competitive races during this election.

This position will entail:

  • Executing aspects of digital production

  • Building and sending blast emails

  • Posting approved content on social media sites

  • Uploading content to websites, CRM pages, and more

  • Segmenting emails list as needed

  • Developing and executing testing plans, analysis, and creating reports

  • Quality assurance testing all aspects of the digital program

  • Producing reports for clients

  • And more…

Digital Production Associate at Revolution Messaging should:

  • have experience with HTML, Microsoft Excel, CRMs like Blue State Digital, and more
  • be familiar with Microsoft Office Suite and Google Docs/Sheets
  • be highly creative and imaginative
  • have a meticulous attention to detail
  • have good written and interpersonal skills
  • work well in a team and has good communication skills
  • be able to work under pressure and code HTML quickly
  • can handle constructive feedback
  • have an eye for detail
  • be a quick learner
  • have an interest in progressive politics
  • have an ability to manage projects independently
  • have an ability to be on-call for urgent client needs, sometimes on nights or weekends, as well as later hours during campaign season.
  • have previous digital production experience.

Political experience is encouraged, but not a requirement for this position.

About us

Revolution Messaging, founded in 2009 in Washington D.C. by key members of the 2008 Obama campaign, is a leader in cutting-edge progressive strategies for a mobile world. Our clients include government agencies, nonprofit groups, unions and political campaigns and candidates. Revolution Messaging specializes in a bevy of in-house digital strategies, including mobile, advertising, social media, video, creative, fundraising and web development.

Revolution Messaging is an Equal Opportunity Employer. It is Revolution Messaging’s policy to recruit, hire, train and promote individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, length of time spent unemployed, as well as other classifications protected by applicable laws.

In addition to a competitive salary (commensurate with experience), employees of Revolution Messaging enjoy health insurance, two weeks of vacation, paid sick leave, and the opportunity to join relevant conferences and trainings.

How to Apply / Contact

Interested candidates should submit their resume, cover letter, reference, and a salary requirement to