Want to Have a Tea Party?
Whether or not you’ve been involved with politics before, there are others who have gone before you in conducting Tea Party rallies and there is much to be learned from their experiences.
It is recommended that in addition to this guide, which provides many practical tips for conducting a rally, you read this guide before getting started:
1. Create an electronic “To Do” List
Breaking down the list that follows into detailed parts and creating a “to do” list will help you put together your event much more easily. This is especially true if there are a number of people working on the project with you. And even more important if you are putting your event together quickly.
A very simple example of such a list that works in “a pinch” is that of one group which put together an event in a very short time (fewer than five days). They created a “To Do” list in Word that they pasted into emails, sending it back and forth as items were completed. They created a system of placing “SALLY PENDING” in front and behind each of the numbered items to indicate who would be handling that task. Once done, the Format>Font>Strikethrough option was used and the status changed to “DONE” to indicate completion.
But there are better ways. Some collaborative online resources are available, such as Google Docs, where a Word document, Spreadsheet, or custom made form can either be uploaded or created, then shared with members of the group. People can work on the document together and watch real time changes, but all can be uploaded, downloaded, and saved right on the site. Another Google Docs or stand alone Google tool is Google Calendar, which could be used to schedule out the event planning time line.
2. Secure a Location
The most pressing requirement in your “To Do” list is to secure a physical location where you will hold your event. The reason it is so important, your ability to complete other necessary tasks are affected if you don’t know your location.
Depending upon where you choose, there may be permit requirements that require a particular amount of time to be granted. Securing the location allows you to accuratley complete your “To Do” list, up front. The requirements for securing permits will likey include separate tasks, such as paperwork that needs to be filled out and submitted.
Suggested locations: Many state capitol buildings have permit requirements that are easy to fulfill and usually at no or a very low cost. In addition to the ease of reserving, there is often equipment available for rental at low cost. Other suggested venues are city halls, county courthouses, historic landmarks, river fronts, and parks. Be careful in your selection, however, and be sure to understand the permit requirements and local ordinances. For the Feb. 27th event, the group in Houston, TX , had great difficualty in securing a location for reasons that are not readily apparent. In any case, their permit cost was $1,000. Although they were able to raise the money, this situation is obviously something any of us would wish to avoid.
3. Develop a Mission Statement, Talking Points, Themes
The intuitive reasons for wishing to convene a rally are obvious to many, but you may be surprised at how you may be “called up short” or “caught flat-footed” when asked the question, “What do you hope to accomplish?”
Your event, for the good of all, cannot be simply about making an angry statment in protest. Simple anger solves little. To be sure, people are angry for a variety of reasons, but that frustration is looking to for a purpose.
What do you expect to accomplish by having a rally? Some suggested possible reasons:
- Show people they are not alone in their frustrations about the bad policies coming out of Washington, your state government
- Give voice to the people
- Send a message to politicians regarding their votes on legislation and to the majority of media who are not really doing their jobs, but serving as a PR department with an agenda, for others who have the same agenda
The primary impetus of all of these rallies has been the many bailouts that have been going on since last fall and “rant” by CNBC reporter Rick Santelli on Feb.19th, which was particularly fueled by the roll out of yet another “mortgage rescue” plan. All of these policies are clearly problematic and taking the country down a ruinous path. In order for your event to be effective, though, it cannot be focused solely on expressing anger, providing vent, or even voice.
In other words, your event should have a purpose, provide information, and develop strategies for helping people take effective action. If you take “the long view”, you will realize that if done well, your efforts could have real impact.
Suggested Mission Statement:
“We (insert group name here) are dedicated to encouraging public policy that supports the principles of personal responsibility, individual liberty, limited government, and free markets.”
Such a mission statement covers the immediate sense of outrage about rewarding failure, punishing success, and crushing taxpayers with debt and burdensome regulation. But, such a statement looks over the horizon, recognizing that there is a lot of work to be done, for some time to come.
Once you have determined a purpose and established a mission statement, you should be able to develop “bullet points” for purposes of discussion and slogans for signs.
Why is the development of “talking points” important?
As perhaps distasteful as this much-overused phrase is, it’s important to convey a well-thought out and consistent message. You will want to be prepared, in advance for questions from the media, challenges from skeptics or critics, and even from those who want to get involved but who would like to better understand what you are trying to accomplish by what you are doing.
[There will be additional links and resources provided here for suggestions of themes, bullet points.]
4. Set Policies
Again, the best resource for this process would be found by reading “Grassroots 101: What Every Activist Should Know”
A name for your “group”
If you have any idea of conducting any future events, conducting meetings, or otherwise organizing activities in your area, you may want to consider a group name that will live beyond the current event you’re planning.
Obviously, the imagination of the public has been captured by the “Tea Party” movement / phenomenon. Obviously the “original group” of people across the country who organized Nationwide Chicago Tea Party events for Feb. 27th / 28th have adopted that “brand”.
Some relationship to this brand / genre would likely be helpful to your mission. For example as a group name, the Lansing, Michigan area organizers of the Feb. 27th Tea Party at the Capitol have adopted the name “New Patriot Revolution”. For events, the group uses the “Tea Party” brand in the name. In Lincoln, NE, the group name is simply “Lincoln Tea Party”. The group adopted the name “Nebraska Tea Party “Pork” Protest” for a March 15 event held in front of Sen. Ben Nelson’s local office.
Determine whether or not you are going to accept the help of any outside group, organization, or business. If so, set your policies regarding this in advance. Put them in writing and post them to your group’s blog. Then, simply be consistent.
Obviously you should do everything you can to find no / low cost solutions to fulfill your needs. For instance, use every possible free resource available and attempt to secure borrowed or donated items. Get creative!
It may be advisable to develop a policy regarding any donation of funds or any action that might be taken to defray expenses in advance. A prudent policy would be to state exactly how any funds secured would be used, including a promise followed through on, to give a final funding statement, listing expenses incurred, monies received. A few local groups added a PayPal donation button to their Facebook group page and /or blog, but they clearly stated for what purpose the funds were sought.
5. Set up a Gmail, Yahoo, or other free service email account specifically for your event.
If you are considering using the Google Docs or Calendar tools mentioned above, you may want to use Gmail to set up your account. Keeping all Google based will just streamline your logins for your actions.
Consider the name of the email account in the same way you would have in determing a name for “your group, which again, is beyond the first event you are going to organize. For instance, the Lansing, MI, group mentioned earlier used the “New Patriot Revolution” name for their email account.
After setting up your account, you might want to use another email program to handle these emails instead of the web interface on the Gmail site. Mozilla Thunderbird has a very easy to use Gmail set-up option in the Account Settings menu. Just be sure to go to the setting within the Gmail account once you have set it up and select the options that allow for downloading the messages to another program. If there will be more than one administrator of the Gmail account, you will want to determine a system for avoiding duplication of going over these messages.
6. Design a logo for your event
Create one consistent image for your use going forward that captures the “mood / feel” of your event and the mission of your group. There are a number of programs available for free that you can use if you do not already own editing software.
Your logo should at least include the name of the group, but preferably the event and date.
A couple of those free programs recommend by others are:
A couple of good resources for public domain patriotic graphics are listed here as well:
7. Make an “invitation” / flyer
Using your logo, design an invitation to your event that can also be used as a flyer. Include the following information:
- Parking information (This WILL come up)
- Be sure to provide the link to your group’s blog (see next)
- Encourage people to bring digital still and video cameras on the day of the event
Save the document in at least a couple of standard formats. At least one of those formats should be .jpeg image so it can be embedded in an email and printed as a flyer very easily.
You could upload the document to a site like 4shared and make the download link available in addition to the embed.
8. Set up a free blog site specifically for your group.
As with the naming convention you will chose that looks over the horizon to other activities you may wish to organize in the future, you may wish to set up a blog site with a group name rather than just your event.
Most people prefer using WordPress.com as it is very easy to use, has a number of handy plug-ins, and seems to “float to the top” in most search engines, particularly if you include well-thought out tags in your posts.
WordPress includes a button for cutting and pasting easily from Word, so items you may have typed up in that program are easily transferred to the blog without formatting problems.
In considering which of the available WordPress themes to use, one good idea may be to consider one that includes the easiest kinds of navigation, and perhaps, a customizable header. If you have the skill, you can use the graphic you’ve already created as the basis of a header, providing an easily identifiable look when people visit your blog.
Besides the embedding the flyer, other blog content that might be helpful to provide are the following:
- The definition of Socialism which would ideally come from a source such as the Communist Party, USA
- The definition of Marxism
- Contact information for the representatives in local, county, state, and state government [some suggestions for widgets automatically providing this information will be added here later]
- Explanation of how a bill becomes law
- Embedded video from prior Tea Party events throughout the country
- Links to resource sites giving tips for signs and slogans that are consistent with the message you are trying to convey
Considering providing other resources to your blog’s visitors, almost all likely event attendees, such as suggestions for making signs.
For instance, provide the link to the the Postersw site, which includes a list of free poster creation programs like Poster 8. This program can be downloaded and used to make up to 10 signs or banners, free. Large signs can be created with the program that will print out like puzzle pieces that when applied to poster board, fit together to create very nice, lare signs. One tip for creating “weather proof” signs is to buy some lower grade (cheap!) packing tape for the purpose of cover the sign over completely.
Invite visitors to the site to post comments regarding any of the posts and to particularly make suggestions they think of for slogans and signs.
8. Set up a Facebook Group
Ok, we know, some people do not like Facebook. Sorry, but the reality is, a lot of people are on Facebook! It is also a fact that Facebook was one of the key tools used to organize the nearly 45 simultaneous parties on Feb. 27th. Therefore, people on Facebook are looking for a Tea Party event in their local area.
As has been mentioned a number of times, if you plan to conduct any future activities, it would be prudent, and particularly so when discussing Facebook, to create a Group, not just an Event, so that people stay connected through that venue even after the event is over. Be sure to post prominently the fact that there is an event created so people RSVP.
**Important note** People who are either new to Facebook, who have been registered long with the site, or who have never created events or groups before are easily confused about the difference between a Group and an Event. They are separate things. The Group will live on after the event is over, while the Event will fade into the “background” of Facebook over time.
9. Set up a Facebook Event
After you’ve created a Facebook Group, create an Event. The Event page allows for more specific detail than a group. Include all of the pertinent information you would have put on the invitation / flyer. You may even want to use the flyer you created as the graphic image for the Event.
Include a link to your blog site, and an embed of the flyer.
10. Develop a Press Release
Once you have reached this stage, you will have your full structure in place.
Develop a Press Release “template” with your graphic image created earlier.
[Press Release template examples to come!]
Issue a press release announcing the event. You should seek out all of contact information of local and regional media outlets, including all radio, television, and print. Most of the information can be obtained by perusing websites. However, keep in mind, some media purposefully make it difficult for the general public to obtain the appropriate contact fax number or email to send a press release (you can understand why). Simply emailing the “firstname.lastname@example.org” is not likely to produce results. Be prepared to place a call to request the fax number or email address. Look for the Newsroom, News Director, or “desk”. Don’t be fooled by the “submit a news tip” form available on some sites. That’s the fast track to news oblivion. If you ask directly for the appropriate place to direct a press release, you will almost always be given the information.
Develop a schedule for issuing future press releases, when major developments occur. For instance, after your initial announcement, you can / should issue other releases when you have secured a program and or speakers, within a four to five day window of the event itself, perhaps a reminder release twenty-four hours prior, and for certain, a post-event release detailing the event, the number of attendees, action taken, and future events / activities planned.
If there is a media outlet, particularly one of primary importance, such as the only major print newspaper, who has completely ignored your press releases and you are within a day or two of the event, pick up the phone and ask for the Editor in the case of the a newspaper, or the News Director in case of a TV or radio station. Prior to making your call be sure you are familiar with the general “flavor” or “bent” of this outlet. Likely if they have ignored a number of well-written releases and your event is gaining momentum and attention, the “bent” you will have detected should be obvious. When making your call, you can politely but firmly point out that you would like to provide this operation an opportunity to balance their coverage a bit.
11. Develop a Program for Event Day
Settle on who will be the “Master of Ceremonies”. It would be a good idea if this were one of the event organizers if at all possible. People attending the events like to see and meet the people who worked hard to put the event together. Your efforts are appreciated by others.
Consider who will speak at the event. It is not necessary to have “dignitaries” if you have someone within your planning group who is articulate and engaging. The lack of any politicians or notable public figures can actually be turned into an asset.
Perhaps it’s high time to dispel the myth that you must be an elected official, candidate, or celebrity to have anything valid to say.
Speakers should generally be non-partisan. Remember that there may be people who have recently awakened to the fact that they may have made a mistake with their votes or support in the past. The current problems facing America have come from both sides of the aisle.
You do not need to completely dismiss the idea of any politicians or candidates speaking at your event. You should, however, examine their voting record carefully, their general history, and have serious conversation with them regarding the context of their speech and whether or not it will be consistent with the message you are trying to convey.
This kind of “vetting” process should be seriously considered when it comes to any notable figure who may potentially speak at your event.
Consider securing the “services” (ask them to volunteer) of an actor to portray a Founding Father giving a speech. Attendees in Lincoln, NE, were treated to a modernized version of Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech.
One of the most important considerations in developing your program is the need for a sound system. Although it may seem like “wishful thinking” do not underestimate the potential for a large number of attendees. In Lansing, MI in under five days, word definitely got out and there were 400 people in attendance on Feb. 27th. In less than a week, organizers in Greenville, SC, were so effective, 2,000 people showed up. No amount of projecting voices is going to be heard over a crowd of that size in absence of some kind of sound system.
As noted, many state capitols have this type of equipment available for rental at a reasonable price. If your capitol or location does not have this option, there are a couple of creative ways of rigging up sound in the event you are unable to find or rent a traditional system.
If you have access to a home karaoke machine with at least audio outputs, you can hook it up to a home stereo system, even a mini unit and then attach a number of peripheral speakers, arranging them as strategically as possible. The quality of this sound would project enough to be heard over a crowd of at least several hundreds. This method was used in Lincoln, NE, and was so loud, the sound had to be turned down among a crowd of 100.
If there are issues about access to power for any reason, there are a couple of potential solutions for this as well. A relatively inexpensive power inverter can be connected to a running vehicle’s battery and will supply adequate power to the system mentioned above.Obviously the concern would be the vehicle would be ok idling for a longer period of time (duration of your event) and it is not too noisy. Just be sure to check into the proper voltage and connections first! Another option is to rent a generator if it can be placed far enough away that your sound system is not competing with the noise.
If you do anticipate a smaller crowd, the potential for the use of cheerleader megaphones is one option, or is a last resort for anyone.
Audio / Video
Burn a CD or create a playlist on an Ipod to play as soon as your sound system is set up and to choreograph your program. Find “peppy”, inspiring, patriotic music to include. This will be welcomed by the crowd as they arrive.
Consider trying to arrange for a video presentation. In today’s world, the younger crowd in particular appreciates these kind of visuals. Your presentation might include some video from prior Tea Party events, clips from news footage or pertinent speeches. Burn a DVD or upload to an iPod. Most versions of Windows come with Movie Maker which is fairly easy to use.
Be sure to have the M.C. or speakers mention any sign-up sheet or handouts available at the event. Emphasis should be placed on explaining the purpose of the sign-up sheets. Provide reassurance to the crowd that their contact information will be kept secured and used only for the purposes of contacting them regarding any available news reports of the event, providing links to videos and pictures, and to announce any further activities you may be conducting. Make a promise that you will not be passing the lists on to anyone. In addition, explain the necessity of documenting the number of people in attendance in the event local media attempt to minimize the number.
If possible, some speaker should point out key items on any handout that will be important in helping people stay connected an involved. Particularly helpful information would be to point out the state NING sites that are administered by truly grassroots folks in their own states. (See “Action Pack” below)
Consider at least one activity during the event which in attendees can participate
Canned Food Collection
In Lincoln, NE, attendees were requested to bring cans of Pork & Beans to donate to a local food pantry. The reason for the selection of canned good should be obvious, and was an excellent visual. The cans were placed along the rail of the “porch” area in front of Sen. Ben Nelson’s office and used as anchors for a 3′ x 5′ flag Culpeper Minuteman flag spontaneously brought by an attendee. Pictures and video from the event showed the speakers behind the flag. When “Patrick Henry” reached the end of his speech, he swept his hand across the cans, angrily knocking them off of the rail for emphasis. It was a rousing moment!
Many Tea Party events have used tea in some symbolic way. Many people have suggested tea bags be collected nationwide and given to one member of Congress to be taken and dumped on the floor of the House or Senate. (Imagine the C-span video of that!) There are people around the country who are working on obtaining an agreement from some member of Congress to do just this. Meanwhile, organizers are storing collected tea bags. Even if it takes some time to secure a committment to accept the bags, this activity provides symbolism in and of itself. Just be sure to bring the mounting number of tea bags to every event you conduct and take pictures of the growing pile.
Tea Party event organizers in Seattle, WA, were first to develop the concept of creating special labels for collected tea bags. Attendees were able to select a label with a graphic and slogan that struck their fancy and sign their name to them. Slogans have included, “Repeal the Pork or Retire”, “Your Mortgage is Not MY Problem”, and “No More Bailouts!”
Some people have suggested “getting double mileage” out of their tea bags by attempting to present them to one of their local elected officials who would in all likelihood refuse to accept them. An excellent suggestion was made to video tape, even if with a cell phone camera the attempted delivery. After the attempted delivery / likely refusal, the tea bags can still be stored and accrued over time as mentione above.
12. Open a Cafe Press Store or enter into an agreement with a local T-shirt shop
You may be surprised at one how many people would like a momento of your event or just want an item to wear that day to show support. A number of event organizers have received requests to create “gear”.
One of the easiest methods for doing so is to take the graphic you’ve already created and open a Cafe Press store specifically for the purpose of selling a few items with the design.
Another option is to procure some kind of agreement with a local T-shirt shop.
If you choose to do anything of the kind, be sure to keep the “mark-up” percentage as low as possible and detail specifically how much it is and what will be done with monies raised.
13. Optimize Web 2.0
Web 2.0 is simply a statement for all of the many internet based technologies that exist. Already mentioned are Facebook and WordPress and in that vein, be sure that whenever you post anything on your Facebook, WordPress, or other online venue, make sure you crosspost to all of the others at the same time.
Do not over do the number of emails you are sending, but do not overlook this tool either. Some people will never “take” to any other online based communication. Others do not necessarily have time to visit the Facebook group or event page or blog, and would appreciate a summary, perhaps each week of items that have been posted to these events. In the light, you may consider a weekly update as a possible “newsletter” for your group.
In addition to those tools already mentioned, there are many others. One key tool is Twitter. Besides Facebook, it was the key tool in bringing together the people in over 45 cities on Feb. 27th. The guide “Twitter: What It Is and How to Use It” explains.
Besides Twitter, Facebook, and email, you should consider any of the other groups online to which you belong as potential places to get the word out.
14. Options for greater national visibilty:
National internet listing
A newly formed coalition of grassroot activists across the country, called the Constitutional Liberty Coalition, is currently putting elements in place to handle listing events across the country. The group has two venues: a Facebook group and a WordPress Blog. If you wish to have your event advertised on their National page, please visit either of the venues listed.
Considering registering with the Grizzly Groundswell blog network and cross posting any new blog posts to that site and schedule an appearance on his Blog Talk Radio Network show “Grizzly Groundswell” on a Wednesday evening.
Chad “Teddy Bear” Everson has created a blog network that includes over 200 bloggers. Teddy Bear’s mission is to lift up the efforts of people “in their own backyards” to “Get Grizzly!” and “take the Socialist Squirrels by tail”. The “Grizzly Backyard” branch of the network is the venue currently in development for people who are becoming activing “in their own backyards”.
If you would like to register your group’s blog, visit the site and click the “Join Us!” option on the top bar.
Blog Talk Radio show
In addition to the blog network, Chad is the host of a radio show on Blog Talk Radio three evenings per week. He was able towork with BTR’s owner, Philip Rechia to arrange for three hours of live coverage of the Feb. 27th Nationwide Chicago Tea Party (in under 48 hours notice). While there was a lot of great coverage the day of the event, Chad and other 27th day organizers realized they could not talk to all who had conducted a party, so he has turned his Wednesday evening shows over to getting the word out about local events.
Of course you are almost assured to be interviewed by “terrestrial” radio outlets, perhaps with larger listening audiences. However, BTR archives every show and you can put a button with a link to the show on which you appeared on your blog, which will live on long after the date is gone. If you publicize your appearance on the radio show in advance, through your blog, Facebook, and an email, you can give out the call in number and interact with people who are interested in your event during your appearance. In addition to using this as a promotional tool for the event, you can schedule a future appearance to summarize what occurred and your future plans, all again, able to be posted to your blog and Facebook venues.
14. Do NOT Overlook the Importance of Old-Fashioned Shoe Leather!
There has been some commentary, some criticism that the Tea Party phenomenon is too “technocentric” and there is some validity in those sentiments.
Not only are there older folks who are just as passionate about the problems facing America but who are not online at all or who do not use the medium extensively, there are also offline, terrestrially based methods of getting the word out about your event that are not to be overlooked.
One excellent example is that of an organizer in Nebraska who printed out business sized cards with all of the pertinent event details and then walked extensively through the city of Lincoln and his own small town sticking the card into residential door handles, under the windshield wiper blades of cards in parking lots, and to everyone whom he came across.
Consider places where the printable flyer can be posted and groups to which you can present the information, such as a local townhall meeting, interested groups of senior citizens, etc.
15. Set up a central location for the upload of photos and videos.
Flickr and Photobucket are two sites which allow you to set up a free photo storage account. Give the account the same name as your group and make a very easy to use password. Include instructions and the userid and password on a handout the day of the event and be sure to have one speaker briefly mention the information and encourage attendees to share their pictures.
If using a WordPress.com blog, it is recommended that you use Flickr. WordPress.com blogs have a Flickr widget built-in.
Keep in mind if you do expect a very large turnout, you may need to upgrade the account to a deluxe or professional version, spread to more than one account, or look for someone to donate their own available webspace, as there are some limitations in space and bandwidth on free accounts.
16. Security Considerations
Obviously you will work with law enforcement in your area if required by your permit or regulation to do so. In some localities, as an increasing size of attendance was becoming obvious to communities through word of mouth, law enforcement worked very well with organizers to provide for security on the day of the event.
In considering “security” issues, you should appoint observers to “mill through” the crowd. This is particularly important as attendees arrive. Any signs with profanity, racial slurs, or otherwise inappropriate language must be refused for public display.
In addition, any vandalizing activity should be immediately stopped.
As media attention to the “Tea Party” phenomenon increases, so does the prospect of “anti-Tea Party” protestors. Any time there is a meeting up of two opposite sides, potential for “trouble” looms. This is just one of the reasons why the event should be kept positive, and effective-action oriented.
Finally, observers should also be watching for actions from any organizations that you agreed to work with (or perhaps) did not, who show up at the event and do not abide by agreements to stay in a booth area, or who are otherwise circulating through the crowd to list-build or otherwise. The only clipboards circulating through the crowd should be yours.
17. Create an Action Pack
This pack is to be distributed at the event site. It should at minimum, a handout with instructions for a central pool for uploading any pictures or videos to be enjoyed by all, links to your online venues, contact information, and any future events or activities that are already in the works.
Other suggested inclusions:
Contact information for representatives.
A list of actions attendees can take after the event, such as writing letters to the editor of local newspapers, joining local political parties to influence their direction, or becoming invovled with others in their state in other ways (see below). Be sure to include the contact information for any of these entities.
Twitter Tips – How to be Effective – Fast Handout
If using this publication, be sure to change the two sections named Note #1 and Note #2, the link at the bottom, and the Footnote. All of the information included in these sections is specific to the state of Oklahoma.
Shelli Dawdy of Nebraska and Facts Are Stubborn Things blog, wrote an extended guide “Twitter: What It Is, How To Use It”. She then collaborated with long time activist Sandra Crosnoe, Oklahoma, to develop the condensed version for the handout. You are either welcome to link to directly to Shelli’s post on her blog or you may post the entire thing on your group’s site if you credit her and provide a link at the bottom.
Interact with others in your state, help attendees to do the same:
You may notice in the Note #1 and Note #2 sections references to the http://oktcot.ning.com site. As referenced earlier in this guide, there are NING sites set up for each of the 50 states which are administered by people from within their own state who are dedicated to working collaboratively and supportively with others at the grassroots level. These groups do not engage in fundraising or endorsement of particular political candidates. You should strongly considering joining the group for your state and editing the information on the Twitter handout to be customized as pertains to that information.
There is a standard naming convention for all of these sites, with only the state abbreviation changing for each. For instance, the Michigan site would be http://mitcot.ning.com, the California site would be http://catcot.ning.com.
Other suggested ideas for the “Action Pack”:
Pre-printed post-card addressed to a member of Congress
Included a pre-printed postcard with a message to a member of the House or Senate for the district or state tailored to a particularly pertinent issue. For instance, if your representative in the Senate voted for the “Stimulus Bill” which was signed by Pres. Obama on Feb. 17th, the postcard’s message could make a statement regarding any of the “nonsense” (and there’s plenty!) associated with that particular piece of legislation:
Here are some examples:
The damage that bill will do to the particular legislative district, to people’s liberty,
The staggering amount of debt and financial committments the U.S. has undertaken
certain elements that were never revealed or at least not fully publicly aired (i.e. Medical Records Technology)
The lack of input by most members of Congress
The speed at which the bill moved through Congress
The posting of the final version with handwritten changes at 10:45PM the evening prior to the 10AM vote
The fact that the vote was sped up to accomodate Speaker Pelosi’s pre-planned
18. After Event Reports
Be sure to monitor the uploading of photos and videos after the event and select some good representations to create a gallery widget for your group’s blog.
Make a blog post reporting on the event, including the final tallies of counts that you have obtained.
Monitor media coverage of the event, noting any entities who were present. Make note of the coverage, evaluating its fairness, and blog regarding what you have discovered, providing links to video clips or online articles.
Attendees will appreciate an end of the day update of any news coverage and links, reminders about the photo site, and a link to your blog. Make a summary of this information and send out an email to all attendees.
Within a day or two, you should send out a “Thank You” email to all who attended rounding up any additional information not included in the prior message. Announce any pending plans for a next activity and/or major scheduled event.
When you have the time, create a video montage of some of the photos and video that were uploaded and upload to one of the major video sites (the most popular is Youtube) and embed the video in your blog.
19. After Action Report
Schedule an “after action evaluation” meeting or conference with as many those who helped and / or those who attended the event and who have become interested in helping with the next event or activity.
Regardless of the venue, develop an agenda for this meeting so it is orderly and covers the necessary ground, and consider conducting by some kind of “parlimentary procedure”. You should appoint a draft or volunteer to take notes during this evaluation.
First, give a brief review of the event’s results for those who are “not up to speed”. Be sure to thank all of those who worked so hard.
Review your “To Do” list from the beginning to end, asking the questions:
What worked well? Why?
What didn’t work? Why not?
Once the evaluation is over, announce or discuss any impending future activity and discuss the outlines for the next major event. Hopefully, at this stage, there will be more helpers and tasks can be assigned beginning at the evaluation.
Tips to Increase Your Success:
Create all information digitally, once, then copy, paste to other venues. The best place to create most of your information will be a Word document or your WordPress blog. If copying out of WordPress, be sure it is from the editor window inside the dashboard and not from the “outside” of the blog as you are likely to have a lot of formatting problems. You do not want to copy from the “outside” of Facebook for the same reason.
Post Any Emerging Needs on the Facebook and Blog site
People want to become invovled and help out. Give them a job! If you are in need of equipment, supplies, or could use an extra pair of hands, let people know. You will almost always find that someone will step forward to help meet those needs.
Handling the Media
It may be best to appoint one or two media contact people to represent your group and event. Put your best foot forward by selecting people who can clearly articulate the messages you are trying to convey, get the information out about your event and its purpose, who know the issues and current events well, who will remain positive, and who are not easily shaken by challenging questions.
It is important that whoever is working with media be on the guard while being interviewed. Depending on the “fervor” of the journalist involved, anything remotely questionable, awkwardly worded, or a “faux pas” may be taken out of context and used to portray our group or event in a way that fits the journalist’s own agenda. Again, messages should be kept positive, not angry or highly partisan. This why the development of a purpose, Mission Statement, and bullet points is so important. It provides a ready direction for conversation.
If dealing with particularly aggressive journalists whose questions are clearly being driven by an agenda, it is not “required” to answer “gotcha” kind of questions. Derail the situation by simply stating what you want to say. Remember the point of these interviews is to get your message out and spread the word about your event.
Activities to Consider After Your Event, Between Events
- Convene a townhall type meeting or two to allow people to discuss issues that concern them and hear their ideas / solutions. Be sure to video tape, record, or have someone taking notes to aggregate all of these ideas
- Conduct a class on how to use different online tools such as Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress
- Create online surveys (see above about Google Docs) to receive input from people on various forms of actions that could be taken. Follow up with them by sending all of the participants and invitees the results and a summary of how you intend to incorporate them into your next plans.
- Seek out your counterparts across the country and network with them. Imagine taking your ideas and theirs, collaborating on actions that could be taken nationwide. Some actions in unison by all event organizers across the country could have tremendous impact. One resource for doing so is Twitter using the #teaparty hashtag. Check out the WordPress blog for the group Constitutional Liberty Coalition which is working to provide a real grassroots alterntative for people around the country to list their events, to provide tips and resources, and to bring people together with others in their own states.
Have ideas of our own to add to the ones seen here? By all means, leave comment. I will update the post, adding helpful comments inline, credit the author.