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As many have noted, EA is receiving a ton of media attention ahead of Will's book release. What should EA groups do to capitalize on this attention?

More specific questions:

  1. Should we build new group initiatives for this newfound audience? If so, what seems highest value?
  2. How should we market these initiatives to this group?
  3. How big is the risk of stepping on toes - i.e., the goal of the PR is to get folks to read WWOTF, so maybe funneling eyeball traffic into our groups would syphon off attention or divert it towards less pressing things?

Guidance from the new CEA PR team would be incredible, but I'm also generally curious what others are thinking about. Thanks.




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The elephant in the room on this is the possibility of extreme negative media attention. There is massive and routine precedent of this. 

People in positions of authority seem to have concluded that the prospects of big media attention outweigh the risks, and they know things we don't so maybe it isn't an atrociously terrible idea. For example, large numbers of people might actually read the book, which might overcompensate for all the damage from all the shallow criticism that pops up. Or maybe they concluded that the constant shallow criticism might be due to bad luck rather than concerted efforts, and noone ever explicitly said that they'll do bad things in retaliation if EA suddenly expands, so it doesn't make sense to assume the worst and hide under a rock. Probably something significantly more complicated than any of those things, though.

People have tried to counteract shallow criticism clickbait articles and have written some pretty good stuff making it pretty clear that those clickbait articles are total garbage, but the nature of clickbait and social media and journalism-in-general means that basically everyone who sees the clickbait article will never ever see the other side of the story. This post covers the problem really well:


The communications team lives and breathes this stuff, and opening up their sensitive work to outsiders might not be the best approach.

Something that would probably help is stuff that could rapidly boost the reputation of ea in an uncontroversial way, such as short-sleeper genes. Stuff that random people could take one look at and reflexively think "that's weird, but clearly worth some research". Sending charity money overseas instead of locally is not one of those things.

To flesh this out more, my thinking is something like, WWOTF PR team probably has a theory of impact, which might dwarf the impact of the other ones, and it seems suboptimal if groups are focusing on the wrong one. Maybe their primary theory of impact is shifting the longtermism/AI overton window (attracting as many hits/eyeballs as possible, mass outreach), or maybe it’s attracting allies in positions of power, or maybe it’s inspiring more readers to pursue longtermist careers. Or maybe it’s something else. Getting more of our members to read the book seems aligned with all of those goals, but I wonder if there would be more impactful specific things, tailored towards their theory of impact.

I’m trying to articulate examples of activities that we might pursue, given different end goals. The clearest case for differing approaches would be if WWOTF’s goal is primarily mass outreach - in which case groups might be able to make connections to local media groups that aren’t big enough to warrant WWOTF attention. Or maybe focus more on partnership events that aren’t trying to funnel attendees into our EA group, but rather expose them to some longtermist framework. If the goals are more targeted outreach / career stuff (as I suspect they are, at least with regards to what groups should optimally be helping with), then this dovetails more with our current initiatives/funnel strategy.

Another concern is that this new audience could be categorically different from the standard proto-EA – possibly less altruistic (in the conventional sense of the word), less into impartial welfare, possibly working in different careers, etc. In that sense, there’s the question of how much we should focus on educating them on EA vs referring them to groups/opportunities within longtermism. There’s also the question of anticipating changing group dynamics, if, say, we suddenly start getting like 5x the number of leads/members. These concerns might be mostly unactionable - we’ll see what our new audience is like once they start showing up. It’s likely our main group initiatives won’t change, but I think there’s a chance they could quite substantially. Moving forward, it would be great to see more coordination among groups, sharing if/how things are changing and how we’re responding.

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