Getting the Word Out: Guide to Promoting Events
Filed under: Featured, Getting Organized
Filed under: Featured, Getting Organized
Across the world, anarchists and autonomous anti-capitalists are constantly at work putting on different kind of events where they live for the purpose of bringing people together, engaging the public with new ideas, and also raising money and building capacity for a wide variety of groups and projects.
A sandwich board encourages people from off the street to come into a local community center in Brooklyn, New York.
In this column, we’re going to discuss some basic ideas about how to promote events and by this we mean gatherings and happenings that take place in a set setting which usually feature some sort of activity that takes about 2-4 hours. This could be a speaker, panel, film, presentation, or workshop. Larger examples would benefit events, music shows, conferences, and festivals.
A beautiful full-color poster announces the prison strike in 2018.
Our goal with this specific column will be to discuss how to get more people to come out to your events and how to in turn, build up your group and affinities through organizing them.
As with anything, we first have to think about what our goals are when we organize events. First and foremost, we are looking to meet new people through organizing in our community, people that we then can begin to build affinity and relationships with into the future. Hosting and putting on events allows us the space to begin to make these connections, as well as form alliances with other groups, educate and organize those around us, and also fundraise to sustain our projects.
We also have to specifically think about the event we are working on in terms of goals. Does the event represent an intervention on our part in the wider context of a tension, a struggle, or an unfolding reality around us? Does the event intend to bring out people from the community and or neighborhood, or just the same set of friends that always show up? Will there be childcare at the event and will it be accessible to people of all ages and abilities? Will the event be a success for the group that is coming through giving a presentation? These are all things to keep in mind.
Form teams to go out and promote your event in your neighborhood and wider community.
After the event is over, there are also many questions to ask. Did it go well? Were there any problems? How was security? How was the turnout? How much money did you raise? Was there any problems with the police or fascists? Did the crew organizing the event do a good job facilitating and running the event? Did people who said they were going to bring food show up? What could have gone better next time? A post-event debrief often can allow people the opportunity to address these topics and learn from potential mistakes and celebrate successes.
With these goals in mind, a big part of getting the word out is having the right promotional materials. In this section, will will focus on real life, printed materials. And, whether you are a graphic artist or can barely work a photo filter, the good news is that there are a lot of free online programs that will give you the ability to easily make snazzy flyers and images to promote your events both online and offline. Here are some basic online tools that are free to help you promote your events, and while we encourage people to learn how to use Photoshop and Indesign, if you don’t have access to these programs, here are some easy alternatives.
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https://cwc.im/survival We're calling for a week of action around January 20, 2019 to promote survival programs, mutual aid initiatives, and other projects that meet the crisis of capitalism. With the 2017 #J20 charges dropped, we can focus on other forms of long-term solidarity.
There are many places online where you can make great looking promotional materials for social media and to print out.
#ThisIsAmerica: We talked with members of @LBU_IWW who recently went public with their union campaign in #Portland, becoming the latest group of service workers to join the #IWW. We talk about the growing movement + how they were inspiried by @BVWkrUnion. https://t.co/xaXeRaDsgh pic.twitter.com/t93rEB6z8A
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) March 23, 2019
In this digital age, people often forget about promoting events offline, however we are in the opinion that just doing online promotion can often be a mistake, and that to ensure the highest degree of turnout, both online and offline promotion is best. Here are some basic ways to promote your events that don’t involve the internet:
Example of quarter sheet and poster.
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Slide through the @goldenbulloakland in downtown Oakland this Friday night to party and build with us. The monthly @leftofthedialoakland is graciously hosting a benefit for our conference!!! #alwaysvinyl #alwaysantifascist please come through, we will also have some limited edition merch for sale
A combination of promotion online and offline for events often is needed for a greater turn out.
While social media dominates our lives and we are bombarded with event announcements throughout the day, here are some tips for promoting events on social media.
Events serve many purposes. They create a social environment where people come together and discuss ideas and form new bonds. They also create an atmosphere where new people can meet each other and get plugged into a broader network. But events also give established crews and groups something to organize around. Here are some ideas for building up your group’s capacity (for ideas on how to form a group, go here) to put on and promote events:
One thing we should keep in mind when promoting events, is that we often have a tendency to only do outreach and promotion in certain areas, neighborhoods, and cultural spaces. But if we only do outreach and event promotion at certain coffee shops, punk shows, and bookstores, we will ensure that only people that frequent those spaces attend our events. This is why promoting events in a variety of working class and poor neighborhoods is important if we are to grow as a movement.
We must remember that not everyone has the ability to come out to events and spend several hours of their day listening to a speaker or watching a film. Work, lack of child care, no access to transportation, and plain exhaustion often keep people from coming out to events. Addressing these real life barriers is important: providing childcare and rides can be vital in allowing people the ability to attend events, just as is providing a meal.
Let’s also work to rethink what an ‘event’ supposedly has to be. Success just doesn’t have to just look like a packed room at the local infoshop or autonomous community center, it could be a block party, a film projected in the park, a festival outside, or a table set up somewhere in a local park or outside the social services office. Workshops and presentations can take place anywhere, so if we know our audience, there’s nothing stopping us from going to where people are already.
Lastly, lets keep in mind that spaces and groups can be intimidating to new people. Most people already have a perception in their head about what a group full of rabble rousers will look and act like – and often people are afraid to get mixed up in anything that might get them in trouble. With that in mind, we have to work at being personable and real with people, both on the streets, at work, and in our communities, in our autonomous spaces, and in our day to day organizing. With these realities and tensions in mind, we can move forward and work to overcome the real obstacles put in front of us.
Here’s to hoping your next event is a smash hit!
An ongoing column about community organizing and some do's and don'ts of anarchist and autonomous activity.