to Win Friends and Influence Congress
Goals and Objectives
When planning any event, there are
several objectives to keep in mind: education, inspiration, networking value,
media coverage, and political pressure. Some events may focus more on one
of these objectives (letter writing campaigns focus primarily on political
pressure, speaking engagements on education, press conferences on media
coverage), but you should consider them all during the planning stages.
Here are several important things to consider and help ensure the success
of your event:
- Planning: The first step
is to plan the event in detailóincluding objectives, task assignments,
and a timeline showing when things should happen.
- Delegation: Depending on
the scale of the event, you should delegate as much responsibility as
possible to people you can depend on. In the end, however, youíll be responsible
for making sure things get done right. TOP
- Theme: When planning and
publicizing your event, make sure it has a coherent theme, and that it
offers solutions. A positive event, which points out the damage we are
doing to the forests but emphasizes solutions will be much more empowering
and effective than an unrelieved series of complaints.
- Involving other groups:
If other groups will be involved in the eventís coordination, contact
them early on so that they can be involved in the planning process.
(See section on Building Coalitions)
- Fundraising: Most events
will require an initial investment, although they occasionally end up
paying for themselves. You should start fundraising as early as possible.
See below for more details. Donít forget to ask every business you need
to buy or rent from if they will donate their services or give you a discount.
- Invitations: For any event
that includes speakers or exhibitors, extend invitations to those you
want to participate as early as possible. Always invite more people than
you really want, so that you will have alternatives if someone is not
- Site: You should identify
the location of the event as far in advance as possible so you have enough
time to get any necessary permits or approvals--find out by calling your
town council, police department, and fire department. If your event is
to be held outdoors, you may want to plan for a rain date or site.
- Publicity: As soon as the
date and site are definite, and some of your speakers have confirmed,
begin publicizing your event. Early publicity may include announcing the
event in all available publications, getting Public Service Announcements
(PSAs) to radio stations, contacting other groups who might be interested
in endorsing or participating in the event, and sending out press releases
to media and other groups with publications. For big events, local television
stations sometimes do PSAsó call their business offices. As the event
gets closer, post flyers and posters in conspicuous spots. TOP
- Equipment: As your organizing
proceeds, you will need to procure any necessary equipment, including
tables, chairs, stage, and sound equipment, trash cans (donít forget to
label some for recycling), port-o-johns, etc.
- Last Minute Stuff: A few
days before the event, call any participants you are not in touch with
regularly (speakers, exhibitors, volunteers) and confirm their attendance.
Remind them of the place and time, and ask if there is anything they need.
Make calls to press contacts to remind them to show up.
- Event Management: Before
the event, make sure there is someone responsible for each aspect. If
you are tabling or running a letter-writing drive, this means making sure
there will be at least two people at your table at all times, and that
there is someone there before and after to set up and close down. For
a speaking engagement, speakers panel, slide show, film, roundtable discussion,
etc. make sure someone will arrive early to set up the room. You may need
to designate a facilitator or Master of Ceremonies.
If you have speakers coming in from out of town, someone should meet them
at the airport or train station. It is a good idea to take them out to
eat before and/or after the event if you can afford it, especially if
the speaker is not getting paid. For a rally, march, or similar event
you will need an army of "officials." Badges or identical T-shirts will
make these people easy to identify. The jobs could include: stage manager/timekeeper,
announcer/MC, errand runner, crowd managers, exhibit managers, waste management,
media coordinator, spokesperson. Remember, you canít do everything yourself
- DELEGATE! TOP
- Press Conference: If your
event has a large media component, youíll want to hold a press conference
to make direct statements to the reporters, and to explain the eventís
purpose and schedule. This is usually scheduled right before the eventís
activities begin. You may want to prepare a "press packet" to give to
- Follow up: After the event
is over, take a deep breath, pat yourselves on the back, and have one
last meeting to honestly analyze the event. What went well? What went
wrong? What could have gone better? Take careful notes and review them
before your next event.
Remember, these steps are only guidelines.
Use your own judgment, and have a great time. TOP