2014 was a year of giant steps forward for Voice Of the People in advancing our mission and establishing the Citizen Cabinet. Executive Director Richard Parsons helped guide outreach efforts on Capitol Hill, as he and VOP President Steven Kull met with more than 65 members of Congress and their staffs.
Every member of the state delegations in the initial Citizen Cabinet pilot states (Maryland, Oklahoma and Virginia) has been contacted and provided information on our program.
Responses from members of Congress and their staff continue to be highly favorable to the project. We will be reaching out to the new members from Oklahoma and Virginia as a result of the 2014 elections as they get settled in their new offices in the coming weeks.
This fall, we executed our preliminary media outreach plan through a series of on-site media tours to the three pilot states, beginning with Oklahoma and Virginia. In each case, these trips and the follow up work by our media team, led by Communications Director Rich Robinson, were highly effective. The resulting coverage surpassed our expectations regarding the level of local media interest in our project.
From mid-June through the end of the year, VOP leadership has had meetings with the editorial boards of 10 key newspapers and has thus far generated three editorials in support of the Citizen Cabinet project; 53 news articles (including coverage from the Associated Press), 4 op-eds placed in advance of the 2014 midterm election; 5 television packages and 9 radio appearances.
Our reach on social media platforms made solid gains in 2014 as well. On Facebook, we had a 39% increase in page likes; a 35% rise in Twitter followers; and on YouTube, 40% growth in views and a substantial increase in minutes watched (from 498 in 2013 to 2,483 this year).
The process of building out our first Citizen Cabinet infrastructure in each of our three pilot states also made great strides this year, led by Operations Manager Allison Stettler. The Citizen Cabinet website has been revised and is now in use to register Citizen Cabinet members and field online simulations; tablets and internet hot-spot devices were set up and are being distributed as needed to participants without internet access.
Partnership agreements this fall with the Universities of Oklahoma and Virginia for panel recruitment were finalized and announced to the media. The recruitment process is in full swing now and the initial simulation is now in the field with the first results expected early in 2015.
In all, an exciting year of progress. We remain extremely grateful for your continued interest and support.
From all of us at Voice Of the People, we wish everyone a joyous and peaceful New Year, with a stronger, more effective democracy for us all.