The Newbie’s Guide to Planning Public Political Commotion

“You say you want a revolution, we all want to change the world…” so the Beatles famously sang. It’s a time of political upheaval, and all across the country, people are rising up to make their voices heard. While I don’t condone violent protests, there are lots of other ways to put an event together to make your voice heard on the issues important to you and still raise some hell.

The good news is, it’s easier than you may think. With a bit of planning and foresight, anyone can plan a political event that is sure to make some noise.

Step One: Build Your Team

Any successful political event requires a team approach. Not only will the hard work of planning run more smoothly with a group, it’s a lot more fun as well.

Perhaps you already have a great group of like-minded friends to help. But if you don’t, don’t despair. If you’re on a college campus, try enlisting the support of one of the politically minded campus groups or clubs. Out in the workforce? Seek out your the local chapter of a like-minded political group. Tech-savvy? Try using Meetup’s local political groups to connect with others in your community who share your vision.

Step Two: Plan Your Venue

Decide if you would like your event to take place outdoors or indoors. If planning an indoor event, you’ll need to locate an auditorium or other public location for your attendees, schedule your event with the facility and pay any requisite fees. If your budget is low, consider local schools. Many allow the use of their auditorium or cafeteria after hours for little to no cost.

If you’re planning an outdoor event, check with your local police department to find out what permits, if any, you’ll need. Also keep in mind that you’ll want to have emergency supplies on hand in case of inclement weather. Be sure to have water on hand to stay hydrated in warm climates, and space blankets or extra gloves, hats and coats for cooler climates.

Step Three: Line up Your Top Talent

Every event is better with powerful public speakers and individuals with proven ability to motivate others and get them excited. Identify the members of your group who are outgoing and fearless at public speaking. Often teachers, coaches and local business leaders possess the ability to both relay important information and get people pumped up about your cause.

If you have a larger budget, why not consider hiring a prominent political speaker? Not only are these speakers experts in the field of politics, they’re also masters of spin. Name recognition alone can drive more people to your event, and when it comes to political rallies, more is definitely merrier.

Step Four: Hit the Presses

Even the best-planned event will flop without plenty of advertising. You really need to get the word out to as many folks as possible. If you have a larger budget, local radio and TV stations generally sell airtime relatively cheaply. Focus on broadcasters who are well-known in your local area to rally more traffic to your event.

On more of a shoestring budget? Don’t despair — press releases are free, and are relatively simple to put together. Write them up and send them to all of your local news outlets. Many grocery stores, community centers and even certain smaller local businesses allow individuals to hang flyers and posters advertising community events. Be sure to check with the facility manager before hanging your works of art. Focus on areas such as grocery stores that draw a large amount of foot traffic.

Step Five: Event Day

So, it’s finally time for your event. Before the event, make sure you have secured adequate parking areas for attendees. Station marshals around the entrance of your event to guide people to where they should gather. Check with local police, who will sometimes lend reflective vests to make your marshals identifiable. Enlist volunteers to assist those with physical disabilities.

Welcome your attendees! Make them feel as if they are truly part of something big and special. Be honest, open and genuine with your praise and your gratitude for their attendance. Also, let them know what to expect. If your event is a march, for example, let participants know how far you will be marching and where rest stations will be located along the way.

Introduce your team and your speakers. If you’ve hired a big name, have them come on and make a cameo appearance even before their speech to excite the crowd. Let attendees know who will be speaking when, so they can anticipate what they’ll be hearing. While you don’t need to have a printed schedule of events — though you certainly can — you should give attendees at least a rough timeline of events so they can plan the rest of their day accordingly.

Step Six: Reflect

The work doesn’t end once your event is over. Once you’ve built all that powerful political energy in your community, you want to keep that momentum going. Reflect on what went well with your event, and what could have gone more smoothly. Then, use what you’ve learned to start planning your next big event.

With a little planning and teamwork, anyone can create a political event to remember. Prioritize what you’re passionate about and get involved at the community or even national level. Our voices are stronger when we come together.