Other Group

Real Voices Media

Location:

Washington, D.C

Managing Director:

Heather Holdridge

Real Voices Media is a left-of-center news aggregator that operates a network of social media, community, and news websites that support Democratic candidates and policy positions. The group is directed by Heather Holdridge, a former digital content manager for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. [1] [2]

Background

Real Voices Media was founded in 2019 with the goal of promoting Democratic candidates during the 2020 election cycle. The group’s existence and operational structure came to light in a March 2022 article in Axios. The group was reported to have quietly built a network of social media communities that the group can activate ahead of elections and national or regional public policy debates to promote Democratic candidates and left-of-center policies. [3]

The group uses what Axios characterized as “apolitical, nonideological content” to curate large followings on its social media pages and communities and then leverages those followings on behalf of Democratic candidates. During the 2022 midterm election cycle, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) was an early beneficiary of the group’s efforts to boost her reelection campaign. Real Voices Media has also promoted aggregated content from media sources and the Biden administration to blame rising gas prices and inflation on corporate greed and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, following the administration’s talking points on such issues. The group has also promoted the Biden administration’s infrastructure legislation and manufacturing policies. [4]

Organization

Real Voices Media was founded in 2019 with an early investment from Will Robinson, a Democratic political operates and partner at The New Media Firm. According to the group’s managing director Heather Holdridge, Real Media Voices is not formally connected to The New Media Firm. Corporate filings from the District of Columbia indicate that Real Voices Media was a registered trade name of New Media Partnerships LLC, but the LLC was dissolved in September 2020. [5]

Spending and Activity

According to Open Secrets, Real Voices Media spent more than $7.9 million on Facebook ads. The top Facebook groups that the organization operates include groups called “Color of Money,” “Blacktivists,” and “Getting it Right,” on which Real Voices Media has spent over $30,000 in political ads. [6]

Many of the pages operated by Real Media Voices focus on politically competitive states including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Others target specific demographic groups such as LGBT people, seniors, parents, students, veterans, teachers, homeschoolers, small business owners, medical professionals, and sports fans. [7]

During the 2020 elections, the group focused on ads promoting voter registration and turnout. In 2021, the group’s ads attacked Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin (R) on many pages, including ones devoted to women’s health, veterans’ issues, and personal finance. Other ads have targeted mothers in West Virginia to support the renewal of the child tax credit as well as using a household finance page to promote expansion of the 5G cellphone spectrum. [8]

Leadership

Heather Holdridge is the managing director of Real Voices Media and has led the group since 2021. She previously worked for Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 2011 to 2021 as the director of digital strategy and the national director of digital content and campaigns. She also has worked for a variety of public relations firms and left-leaning advocacy groups. [9]

Suzanne Turner is a cofounder of the organization. She previously worked with Heather Holdridge at public relations firm Fenton Communications. She also cofounded the Internet Advocacy Center and Fem2pt0 and runs a consulting firm called Turner4D. [10]

References

  1. Markay, Lachlan. “Scoop: Progressives build massive, cloaked online powerhouse.” Axios. March 27, 2022. Accessed March 30, 2022. https://www.axios.com/progressives-online-powerhouse-elections-cb4eb429-4444-4a94-8959-d05043289146.html ^
  2. “Heather Holdridge.” LinkedIn. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-holdridge-803497/ ^
  3. Markay, Lachlan. “Scoop: Progressives build massive, cloaked online powerhouse.” Axios. March 27, 2022. Accessed March 30, 2022. https://www.axios.com/progressives-online-powerhouse-elections-cb4eb429-4444-4a94-8959-d05043289146.html ^
  4. Markay, Lachlan. “Scoop: Progressives build massive, cloaked online powerhouse.” Axios. March 27, 2022. Accessed March 30, 2022. https://www.axios.com/progressives-online-powerhouse-elections-cb4eb429-4444-4a94-8959-d05043289146.html ^
  5. “The New Media Firm.” Open Corporates. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://opencorporates.com/companies/us_dc/EXTUID_4245639 ^
  6. “Real Voices Media.” Open Secrets. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://www.opensecrets.org/online-ads/advertiser/real-voices-media/1093 ^
  7. Markay, Lachlan. “Scoop: Progressives build massive, cloaked online powerhouse.” Axios. March 27, 2022. Accessed March 30, 2022. https://www.axios.com/progressives-online-powerhouse-elections-cb4eb429-4444-4a94-8959-d05043289146.html ^
  8. Markay, Lachlan. “Scoop: Progressives build massive, cloaked online powerhouse.” Axios. March 27, 2022. Accessed March 30, 2022. https://www.axios.com/progressives-online-powerhouse-elections-cb4eb429-4444-4a94-8959-d05043289146.html ^
  9. Heather Holdridge.” LinkedIn. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-holdridge-803497/ ^
  10. [1] “Suzanne Turner.” Turner4d. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://turner4d.com/biographies/suzanne-turner/ ^
  See an error? Let us know!