These days a lot of people use Social Media like Facebook and Twitter. Including outreach in these arenas will help spread the word about your event in an important way. Keep in mind that phone calls are still the most effective way to reach people, but using social media and email can help create a buzz about your event, especially with a younger audience.
Invite everyone you’re connected to on Facebook. Using your personal Facebook profile, create a Facebook event invitation. This invitation will be the home base for getting people excited about your event.
a) When? Insert the date and start time of your choice.
b) What are you planning? Use a catchy title, provocative question, or funny pun to make your event memorable. For example:
c) Where? Don’t just put the street address, make sure people know that you’re making the extra effort to host the event because you really believe in this cause. Add a line like, “At my house, because I want to be there when this gets started!” Then add your street address or other instructions, such as where to park or how to call your apartment to be buzzed in.
d) More info? YES! Always include more info. A link to the online action page can be helpful, but your personal statement is always more powerful. Let folks know why you’re throwing this event and what you hope to accomplish.
e) Who’s invited? Select guests from your Facebook friends – invite people even if you know they can’t attend; they may know someone they can tell about the event. Check yes next to the boxes for ‘Show the guest list on the event page’ and ‘Non-admins can write on the wall’.
f) Add a photo! Use one of the images we’ve created or make your own perfect picture.
g) Shorten the URL. After you’ve created the event, use a URL shortener like TinyURL or bit.ly to create a shorter, more manageable URL for your invitation. A shorter URL is less likely to be lost in translation from one post to another.
Expand the audience by targeting existing groups that have similar audiences or issues of concern. Find the Facebook pages for the city council, PTA, political science association at your college, etc., and post a link to your invitation on their wall. Customize your message to suit the group.
Don’t forget to include your local news organizations – tell them why this action is newsworthy and important to their readers! For example:
- PTA: Parents are critical players in the fight for fair politics. Please come to a house party to hear Move to Amend's message about gearing up to take on Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations to spend unlimited money in our elections. http://bit.ly/example [link to your FB event]
- Newspaper: Got a scoop for you – citizens in our town are getting together to plan a take- back of our democracy. Come on over on Nov. 9 to find out how Move to Amend is helping lead the people into battle for our government. http://bit.ly/example [link to your FB event]
Drill down to your inner circle and make a personal appeal to those closest to you. Use Facebook’s message feature to send a personal message to a handful of your closest friends, those who you believe will support your house party by attending, inviting others, or helping you in some other way. This message should be personal so they know it’s coming from you, not from a faceless organization.
Dear friends: you know I wouldn’t clean my house unless I had a very good reason. We all have a good reason, so I’m spiffing up the place and inviting you to a house party on November 9 to talk about how corporations are taking over our elections.
Because you’re my friend and because I know the combination to your secret lair, I’m asking you to do two things for me:
1. Please send this invitation to YOUR closest friends and ask them if they want a) government for the people or b) government for the corporations – anyone who answers A is invited to the party on November 9.
2. Bring your soapbox to my place on November 9 to hear a message from Move to Amend about gearing up to take on Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations to spend unlimited money in our elections.
Use Twitter to drive traffic to your Facebook invitation by piquing the interest of those who follow your tweets. Starting conversations is helpful if you can commit the time to keeping them going.
- Send a tweet letting people know about the party and include a link to your Facebook invitation. Important: ask people to Plz RT!
- Identify people and groups you want to invite to the party and send tweets directly to them offering a personal invitation.
- Use the following tweet examples and write your own tweets. Make sure you are sending tweets at various times of the day, and feel free to repeat tweets that may have reached morning readers but not those who log on at night:
- The fight for democracy begins on Nov. 9 at my house. http://bit.ly/example
- Corps depends on power of $$, but democracy depends on power of the people who will party on Nov. 9. http://bit.ly/example #MoveToAmend
- 2012 elections begin on Nov. 9 at a party to plan a take-back of our government and democracy http://bit.ly/example #MovetoAmend
- Chips, dip, revolutionary democracy planning. You know, just another Nov. 9 at my house. http://bit.ly/example #MoveToAmend
- If you’re not outraged, come to my house on Nov. 9 and find out why you should be http://bit.ly/example #MoveToAmend.
The following is an extensive list of ideas. Please feel free to use whatever ones work for you.
Reaching out to your friends and networks
- Make an invitation list: Invite friends and family, neighbors, co-workers, and colleagues. Early on, ask friends who’ve said they will attend to think of names of additional people to invite.
- Remember that not everyone you ask will be able to make it: Soccer practice, family trips, and work can always come up for even the most dedicated defender of democracy. Or, sometimes they are just tired and don’t have the motivation to go out. Whatever the reason, people who want to come may still not come. So, to have the best chance for good attendance, you'll need to invite about two or three times as many people as the number you want to attend.
Spread the Word
- Make invitations: These can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like. We recommend including a few key pieces of information, such as: the purpose of the event; the date, time and place; directions to the location; an encouragement to RSVP (include your contact info here), as well as to bring friends.
- Send out invitations and follow up: You can send out invitations via e-mail, Facebook, drop invites in mailboxes at work, or even send out paper invitations. The key here is follow up - make sure people have received the invite and ask them to RSVP.
- Timing: Opinions vary on the best time to send out invites, but a good rule of thumb is about 4 weeks out, 3 at the most – well enough in advance so people can plan for the event and mark it on their calendars, but not so far out that folks will forget about it.
Some creative ideas for inviting people to your event:
- Put a short invite in your church newsletter
- Drop flyers in colleagues mailboxes at your place of work
- Post a note on your local co-op board
- Other great ideas you come up with!
95% of organizing is follow-up. Sending out e-mail blasts is a great start, but without personal follow up from you or someone coming to the event, it’s less likely folks will show up. So, make sure you give yourself some time to follow up with your invitees to let them know how important it is that they show up and what a good time they’ll have!
- Calling: The single best way to reach people for follow up is either in person or with a phone call. E-mail is fast and efficient but doesn’t capture people’s attention the same way, and can be less personal than a one-on-one conversation. Plus, remember - not everyone is connected to the Internet! So, make sure you include some time to call people once the invites have gone out, as well as a week or so out before the event, to make sure folks are coming. These calls can be brief, friendly reminders – no need to pitch everyone on the whole event plan right there; a sneak preview and a friendly ask will do.
- E-mail can be a great tool to build excitement for the event – you can share updates via e-mail to invited participants on the event plans, who’s coming, what will happen. There are great online tools and services, such evites, which can help you do this as well.
Reaching Out to the Public
- Flyers: We will be designing and sharing a template flyer with you, to use as you like. You can fill in key information and copy and post your flyer in community centers, coffee shops, religious institutions, and local stores. You can also go to events where there are like-minded people and pass out copies of your flyers at these events.
- Organizations: Invite organizations that you know share our vision to overturn Citizens United, such as environmental groups, labor, civil rights, healthcare, faith-based, and legal organizations to participate in your event and ask them to share information with their membership.
- E-mail Lists, Event Websites and Listings: You can share your invitation with e-mail lists, newspaper event listings and post it to websites, such as craigslist.org and indymedia.org that have event listings.
- PSAs: Many local radio stations will let you come in and record a brief public service announcement for your event. Be aware that for PSAs and for event listings, there are often deadlines a few weeks in advance.
- Media: Inform your local media about your event with a press release and follow up with phone calls.
- Social Media: You can create a Facebook event page for your event, tweet or blog about it.
- Your own ideas! You know your community best. Your own ideas on outreach will often work the best.