Animal Impact: An Interview with Author Caryn Ginsberg

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Animal ImpactCaryn Ginsberg has spent more than a decade helping animal protection advocates utilize proven strategy and marketing approaches to get better results. She has worked with leading organizations and hosted presentations and workshops at the Animal Rights National Conference, Taking Action for Animals, and other events.

Her new book, Animal Impact: Secrets Proven to Achieve Results and Move the World combines her own experience with stories, tips, and ideas from over 80 successful advocates, including COK’s Erica Meier. Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation, hailed her book as, “the practical handbook every activist should read.”

That’s why COK is thrilled to host a free workshop on effective advocacy with Caryn on Feb. 4, 2012.

And, we’re even more thrilled that Caryn was able to take some time out of her busy touring and speaking schedule to chat with us.

COK: What inspired you to write Animal Impact?

Caryn: Like many advocates, I started volunteering for outreach tables, leafleting, and demonstrations. I found some of these activities were more productive than others.

Hard-working, committed animal activists deserve to get results that match their efforts. To do so, we all need to be “passionately productive.” This includes:

  • Learning what works. Savvy advocates know how to influence others. Adopting these approaches increases your odds of success.
  • Evaluating results. Monitoring how many people act lets you build on success and address what isn’t working.

Animal Impact shares proven approaches and practical examples, organized in a fun, memorable framework.

COK: Is that part of the ACHIEVEchange system you introduce in your book? 

Caryn: Yes, each letter in “ACHIEVE” stands for a method that successful animal advocates use to score impressive victories.

Animal ImpactFor example, “H” stands for “How to say something to someone instead of nothing to everyone.” One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to effective advocacy. For instance, COK’s “Side of Truth” campaign on HULU appeals to young people. Research shows they’re receptive to compassion appeals and interested in hidden information, such as about industrial farming.

Whereas, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine uses health-based advocacy that resonates with older people. Many people who respond to compassion wouldn’t be swayed by health and vice versa.

Individual activists can tailor messages in conversation. Ask what people know about veg*ism and what they find appealing. Amplify positives and address concerns. Conversing rather than lecturing makes you more likeable and credible.

COK: Can you share a favorite successful strategy from the book?

Caryn: People change when they believe it is in their interest to do so. So, the “C” in ACHIEVE stands for, “Create benefits and cut barriers.”

For food, people decide primarily based on taste, convenience, and cost. Mark Rifkin, a grassroots activist turned registered dietitian, shared tips to help people enjoy delicious veg food.

  • Animal ImpactHave recipes that appeal to non-vegetarians to make for potlucks.
  • Share food at a dinner or event (ask the hostess or host first).
  • Invite people to eat in your home.
  • Give a gift of vegan food (homemade or store-bought).
  • Give a gift certificate for a veg restaurant or veg food.

“There are still people who think vegetarians only eat sticks and twigs. Dazzle them with flavor.”

COK: Based on your research, what are some simple ways to improve upon our advocacy and become more effective for animals?

Caryn: Because of our passion for animals, we sometimes judge and guilt people. Research shows guilt doesn’t work. When people feel
overwhelmed, they’re more likely to try to forget the guilt-inducing information than to change.

We ask what seems impossible. Rather than “All vegan now,” Meatless Monday and other steps toward veg*ism, can move more people. The Humane Research Council found that the meat-reducing segment is a large, growing group. Even if these people aren’t 100% veg, they’re saving more animals.

We tell people why but don’t do enough on how. We need to provide tools and ongoing support to make it delicious, easy, and healthy for the new-to-veg.

COK: What keeps you motivated as an animal protection activist?

Caryn: It’s that “aha” moment when activists gets how the approach I’ve shared will lead to better results. The more activists learn these methods, the faster we will bring about dramatic change for animals.

Want to have you’re own “aha” moment? Or continue adding to your set of advocacy tools?

Join us this Saturday, February 4th for a free workshop with Caryn Ginsberg on Effective Advocacy: Increasing Your Impact for Animals.

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