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Activist and public relations thought leader David Fenton shares lessons on how to organize successful media campaigns, cultivated from more than half a century working within some of history’s most impactful social movements.
In an extraordinary career David Fenton has learned first-hand what to do—and not to do—to propel progressive causes into the public eye and create real, impactful, lasting change.
A visionary activist, Fenton has been the driving force behind some of the most important and history-making campaigns of the last 50 years, from the No-Nukes concerts with Bruce Springsteen in 1979, to the campaigns to free Nelson Mandela and end apartheid in the late 1980s, exposing the dangers of toxic chemicals in our food, the long battle to legalize marijuana and end racist drug laws, the misinformation in Washington during the Bush era in the 2000s, and recent campaigns that successfully banned fracking in New York and alerted the public to the climate crisis, including the environmental impact of Bitcoin.
Reflecting on his life, with tales of living in a commune, photographing riots and rock stars, working at Rolling Stone and High Times magazines rabble-rousing with Abbie Hoffman, and collaborating with presidents and celebrities, David tells the fascinating story of how he developed the strategies and tactics that have made him a successful media agitator. David then shows how these tools can be used by anyone to advance their cause.
Part rollercoaster memoir, part practical guide, The Activist's Media Handbook provides an essential toolkit for today’s activists for organizing to win: how to tell your story, captivate audiences, and inspire them to join the cause.
About the Author
David Fenton is the founder of Fenton Communications, created to promote issue-oriented public relations campaigns on the environment, public health, and human rights. He also helped create JStreet, Climate Nexus, the Death Penalty Information Center, and Families for a Future.
Fascinating and timely book for anyone seeking to change minds at scale, from David Fenton, who knows how it's done
— Michael Pollan
Offers pragmatic ideas for fixing the left’s oft-ineffective political messaging. — San Francisco Chronicle
David Fenton has helped progressive activists reach the media and public since the late 1960s. In the struggles against apartheid, the nuclear arms race, unjust wars, racist drug laws, to stop climate and toxic pollution, his work has helped movements advance justice.” — Jane Fonda
“I met David in 1970 when we were both teenagers in the movement. I had a clenched fist as a Black Panther. David had a camera that captured my fire and innocence. His memoir is a guide for activists who need to be good storytellers to win.” — Jamal Joseph, Writer, Director, author of Panther Baby and Professor of Film, Columbia University
“The service rendered to the African National Congress by Fenton Communications during the difficult years, has been of great value to us. The technical skill of your company, as well as your company’s commitment to worthy causes, is beyond doubt.” — Nelson Mandela, June 28, 1994, in a letter to the author
“David is the progressive world’s chief evangelist on the importance of communications and language in social movements. His help was essential in MoveOn’s campaigns on climate, economic justice, criminal justice reform, and against the nuclear arms race and the Iraq war.” — Wes Boyd and Joan Blades, co-founders, MoveOn.org
“David is the dean of progressive communications. As his memoir shows, there is no one who has done more to help the progressive community build public support for its causes through powerful and effective messaging.” — Ken Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
“David Fenton has spent decades helping advocates for human rights and social justice reach the public. His emphasis on communicating climate science is essential if we are to preserve an open society — and healthy environment.” — in the face of propaganda, denial and distortion. — George Soros
“Any student of American history in the last half-century will profit from this inside account--and anyone trying to make change now will profit from grappling with these hard-earned lessons.” — Bill McKibben, author and activist
“The first step to tackling climate change is to talk about it. David Fenton has been helping scientists and NGOs do this for more than three decades and over that time, he’s learned a lot. This book lays out basic principles of effective climate communication. It’s a must-read for anyone seeking to raise public awareness and encourage climate action.” — Katharine Hayhoe, Distinguished Professor, Texas Tech University, United Nations Champion of the Earth, author of Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World