How to organize an event
By now, your campaign has reached, or is close to reaching, its quantitative goal and the end date is just around the corner. Now it’s time to turn your campaign’s online success into real impact.
In this post, you’ll learn how to organize an event that will drive your campaign closer to victory. Follow the steps below to get started.
1. Choose an event format
Events can give your campaign the extra boost it needs to achieve victory. They’re an effective way to put a lot of pressure on decision makers, sway public opinion, and/or recruit additional support for your campaign. Here are a few of the most popular events that can help your campaign make an impact.
If you are using a petition to help your campaign achieve its goal, one of the best ways to show your target that you mean business is to print out and deliver the signatures you’ve gathered. Alternatively, you can email them (the more eco-friendly method), but there’s a greater chance that the email will go unread and fall into the abyss of the inbox.
To ensure that your petition signatures are actually delivered to your target, we recommend setting up a private meeting.
Setting up a private meeting
Setting up a private meeting with a decision maker allows you to engage in a comprehensive dialogue and possibly reach an agreement on the spot. However, your target may be difficult to get a hold of. CEOs and politicians are busy people, but don’t let that discourage you. Be persistent and let the secretary or assistant who screens their calls know that you’re not going to be easily brushed aside.
If necessary, try multiple methods (email, phone, Twitter) to get in touch with them and don’t despair if they refuse to meet with you on the first (or second) try.
Before attending the meeting, make sure you are prepared to respond to any questions your target may have regarding your campaign and that everyone from your group has a clear understanding of how to respond to each scenario. Some possible scenarios to plan for are:
- Your target refuses to accept the signatures
- Your target responds in a negative manner
- Your target accepts the signatures and responds in a positive manner
- Your target accepts the signatures, but offers an alternate solution
Pro TipIf your target refuses to set a meeting, you and your supporters should consider going to a public event where they’ll be in attendance. Showing up unannounced and demanding a response in a public setting can be an effective way to elicit a response.
Rallies can be an effective way to grab the attention of a decision maker who has refused to meet with you one-on-one, raise awareness for an issue, and/or sway public opinion. Rallies hosted in front of a company’s corporate headquarters or outside of public offices are pretty difficult to ignore. If there are a lot of people in attendance, it will also show the amount of support for your campaign and, hopefully, gather media attention.
To increase the impact of your rally, try tying it to a specific conflict or event like a press conference.
Pro TipIt’s a good idea to let local law enforcement know that you’re organizing a rally. Not only can they help ensure the safety of the participants and general public, but they can also help the event run smoothly.
Organizing a call-in day can be a great way to put pressure on a decision maker. Unlike a petition signature, they allow your campaign’s supporters to express why they are supporting your campaign with a concise, personal story.
To make your call-in day successful, you’ll want to send an update to your campaign’s supporters that includes the following information:
- Find phone numbers that put you in direct contact with the decision maker. Smaller organizations and companies will usually have this number listed on their website, while larger organizations may direct you to a main switchboard line. For government officials, you can usually find the phone number for their office listed on their website. A Google search can help you find this information.
- If you have a good relationship with the decision maker, you probably want to let them know that you’re organizing a call-in day. This increases the likelihood that the calls will be answered, since the decision maker will know to set aside time to take the calls. If you don’t have a good relationship, surprising the decision maker is perfectly okay as well.
- Include a call script for your supporters to help guide them through the conversation. Some people aren’t comfortable with off-the-cuff phone conversations where they’re demanding something from someone they don’t personally know. Also, make sure you give them an alternate script to leave a message if they get put through to voicemail.
A Twitterstorm is the focused effort of many people who are tweeting at a decision maker to influence current events in their favor.
In the digital age, decision makers and companies maintain an active presence on Twitter in order to share information and connect with their community of customers and constituents. For this reason, Twitter can be a powerful organizing tool.
In up to 140 characters, you can easily grab a decision maker’s attention by mentioning them in a tweet. While a single tweet might not make much of an impact, if the hundreds or thousands of your campaign’s supporters do the same, it’ll be hard to ignore.
To organize a Twitterstorm, send a campaign update (remember to tick the email option) to your supporters with the time, Twitter handle (username) of the target, and the hashtag you’ll be using to track the conversation. It’s also a good idea to provide a suggested tweet or two that your supporters can use. And don’t forget to include a link to your campaign.
Pro TipConsider using more than one event type to help drive your campaign closer to victory. For example, you could combine a Twitterstorm with a rally to involve the people who weren’t able to attend the physical event. Or maybe you want to organize a call-in day the day before the petition delivery. Mix and match events to complement your campaign’s strategy.
2. Plan and prepare
After choosing an event that will help your campaign achieve victory, it’s time to start planning and preparing for the day. Here’s a few tips to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
Create an agenda
With the event’s goal in mind, create an agenda that provides structure to the event. Not only will this help you stay organized, but it will give your supporters and other interested parties (press, law enforcement, etc) a point of reference.
Involve your campaign’s supporters
When it comes to events, campaign supporters are your greatest asset. These are the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are ready, willing, and able to help out.
Choose a group size that is appropriate for your event. For example, if you scheduled a petition delivery at an office meeting, a smaller group is probably better. For a large press conference or public event, having more supporters in attendance will help your campaign gain exposure.
It’s important to recognize that events can require a lot of work and that you can’t do everything yourself. Distributing responsibility amongst your supporters who will be attending the event not only encourages them to actually show up, but also allows you to focus on the big picture. Plus, you’ll feel more relaxed knowing everything is taken care of.
Think about what positions will be vital to making your event a success, no matter how big or small. For example, if you’ve asked a few people to speak at the event, you might also assign a timekeeper to keep them on schedule and the whole event on track. Even a menial task like holding a sign can help your event run smoothly. Other common roles include a photographer, social media guru, greeter(s), and media spokesperson.
Make a statement by using props or creating a spectacle. Not only will this help you grab the attention of a decision maker and the general public, but it will also increase the likelihood that the event will be covered by the media. Picket signs, flash mobs, and costumes are all encouraged.
On April 22, 2013, Bee the Change and Organic Consumers Association “swarmed” the Washington D.C. headquarters of the EPA to demand a ban on Bayer, Dow, and Syngenta’s bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides. Neonicotinoid pesticides are blamed for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), an issue affecting honeybee colonies, which are critical to our nation’s food supply. Dressed in bee costumes, the group delivered 130,000 signatures to the EPA.
Contact the media
If you’re delivering a petition or organizing a rally, there’s a good chance that local media will be interested in covering the event. Once all of the event details are finalized, conduct some outreach and inform reporters of your plan. For tips on how to contact the media, click here.
3. Document the event
On the day of the event, make sure everything is well-documented. Have your photographer take plenty of photos and video that can be shared with your campaign’s supporters, the decision maker, and media afterwards. You can also have your social media guru provide live coverage of the event by sharing status updates on Facebook and Twitter.
4. Follow up, debrief, and announce the verdict
After your event ends, follow up with your campaign supporters and share the outcome.
If the event helped your campaign achieve victory, congratulations! You’re ready to declare victory and close the loop with your campaign’s supporters.
If it didn’t, that’s okay too. Follow up with your campaign’s supporters by sending a quick update. It’s important to gather feedback on how things went. What did you do effectively? What could you do differently next time?
You can also continue the fight by following up with the decision maker(s), readdressing your argument, restating your demands, and applying even more pressure. If they still remain uncooperative, try adjusting your strategy, continuing promotion, and organizing another event. Fortune favors the bold.