Tips for Organizing Public Events
Public events—from lectures to rallies to fundraisers—are a great way to introduce an idea to a group of people, let activists and future activists connect, and attract press attention. Events that are documented with video and photographs can be made available online, providing information and inspiration to people worldwide.
What Kind of Event Should You Have?
The type of event you organize has a lot to do with who you are and your objectives. Here are some ideas for local activism events.
Publicize Your Event
The success of your event is tied to how well you promote it. Try these tactics to help ensure a successful event.
- Email local organizations you think might want to attend.
- Use social media.
- Local newspapers often have a community calendar that can list your event, and local coffee shops or other public spaces may have community bulletin boards where you can advertise.
- Post the event to online calendars, such as your city weekly paper.
- Contact community mailing lists, send a note to the list about your event, asking others to participate and help promote the event. Include an invitation that can be circulated.
- Flyers can be a great way to spread the word, especially if you are on a college campus or attending another event earlier in the week.
- If it’s a big rally, you might spend a few weeks visiting local organizations in person and asking them to get involved.
- A big-name speaker can bring in lots of attendees.
Make one or two-page handouts you can give to attendees that provide an overview of the issue, a clear statement of your position, and information about how people can join the fight. Use pictures or other visual elements to make the handouts graphically compelling. These handouts should also be available online, if possible.
Stickers are also great to hand out at events. A simple sticker with a powerful statement and a website URL is easy to make and looks great on laptop cases, water bottles, and coat lapels.
Documenting the Event
One of the most important things you can do is document your event.
- Take lots of photos and try to promote the best ones online. Reporters can turn to publicly-available photos when writing news
stories about your issue, activist groups can use the photos to promote future events, and participants can post the photos to social media to help spread the word. A Creative Commons license can make sure everybody knows they have your permission. You can pick a license from their site and apply it to your photos—EFF uses the most permissive, CC BY, for almost everything.
- Be aware that you may have participants who do not want to have their photograph taken. It's good to respect those wishes; this creates a safe environment where people will feel comfortable.
- If you hold a rally, be sure to get all of the participants together with their signs for a group photo.
- Videos are also powerful ways to document events, and are especially good for speeches and panel discussions.
- For speeches or lectures, a live stream of the event can bring in viewers from around the world.