Out Against the Right: An Organizing Handbook for Queer Activists and Grassroots Organizers
For lesbian activists and grassroots organizers fighting the Christian Right.

Attracting People to Your Events

In the Beginning

All the Time

Even More Often

Attracting People to Your Events

Recruiting is a constant process. This section focuses on getting people to come to your actions and events. Publicizing events has two purposes: to bring potential activists into your movement, and to create an audience for your actions, events, forums, and ideas. If you are taking the trouble to put some message out to the public, you hope there will be a public to receive that message. You never know what someone will get out of attending your event-they may wind up getting more involved in your group, the idea may inspire their work in a group in which they're already involved, or they may start their own group. Someone who is attracted by an unusual flier and drops in on a forum to learn more may start thinking about the issues you raise, or may be persuaded to vote in your favor. But whatever responses people have to information about your campaign, events and actions, you need to start by getting them there.

In the Beginning

A sure-fire way to get the word out about your hot new group (or your hot new project) and to increase the buzz around town is to throw a party. When you inundate your community with flyers inviting all righteous dykes to come meet you at your upcoming bash, people are bound to be curious (see "flyering" in this section for step-to-step instructions on fierce bountiful flyering). A party can be a magnet for people to come together from all over. Don't be overbearing, but it is important to let people know why you've thrown the party. Have posters of information relevant to your political project on the wall, and flyers ready to distribute. Most importantly, don't forget to make a sign-up sheet to get the names of all the people who attended, so you can add them to your phone tree. You could start a "guest register," a book which you bring to all your social events. It can be a more inviting, less I'm-going-to-hit-you-up-for-work-immediately approach for coaxing a newcomer to give you her name and number.

Another approach is to attend regular meetings or other events where you may find interested people and announce yourselves. You could plug an upcoming event, hand out flyers or invitations, or simply announce that a new group has formed to do specific work, will meet regularly at a specified time, and new members are always welcomed.

All the Time

Phone Tree Now that you have your little book chock full of names and numbers, what do you do with them? Make a list of all the numbers you have gathered-we call this a phone tree-and indicate in whatever capacity someone is interested in being a part of the campaign. Every time you have an action or event, call everybody on your list. When you need help with something specific, look at your list to see if anyone has signed up to do that. Some people may have offered to donate specific services, such as graphic design, guerrilla photocopying, or bartending at a party. The more you use your phone tree, the more valuable it will be to your organization. You may set this up as a list, if it isn't too long and you plan to have one person make all the calls, or you may want to split it up, so the first person calls 5 people, and they each call 5 people and so on. Setting it up as a tree can be risky if your phone callers aren't 100% reliable, or if they don't get their message in enough time. We didn't split up our list, but tried to have a few people come over to make a portion of the calls when they were available. Always have a sign-up sheet at all your events in order to increase the numbers on your list. With the proper care and feeding, the phone tree is a resource which will grow and grow.

Press Releases

Always notify the press of your events. Even if you can't get them to run a story beforehand, you may get into a calendar or announcements section. If you can catch someone's ear or make up a good hook, you may get a longer blurb. Coverage of an event after the fact will still help get more people to your next event, because your name recognition will increase. See Media for more information on this subject. Even More Often

Flyers are an easy way to get your word out all over town. Use the phone tree and announce at a meeting that there is a need for many a flyering hag or fairy to post flyers all around the town, the city, the state, the country, the world, the universe! Confer about strategic spots where many people will view your handiwork.

Then pull together to put out a fierce flyer out for the party, for the announcement of the group, and for all upcoming. Make 8 1/2 by 11 flyers to stick on every outdoor surface within a 5-mile radius of your organization. Make 1/4 page sized "palm cards" (3X5 cards which are the smaller version of the flyers) to leave at bars, bookstores, fairs, or any other events, and to hand out to girls as they leave clubs, meetings, or even walk down the street. Handing them out is a great excuse to walk up to women and start an interesting conversation . . . . Make 1/3-page sized cards (the size of a legal envelope) to ask other groups to stick into their own mailings.

The same places you went recruiting are good places to hang flyers. Coffee shops, bookstores, and co-ops are prime places for flyers. Put them on street poles, light fixtures, town bulletin boards, in laundromats, at construction sites. Plaster multiple flyers in one space, take a step back and admire your art. Then get the hell outta there. Use tape, a staple gun, or wheat paste. Wheat pasting entails using wheat paste, available at your local hardware store (sometimes called wallpaper paste), water, a bucket and paint brushes. Wheat pasting flyers means you can plaster a whole bunch of flyers in no time flat. It is also generally illegal; your group should be aware of the ramifications (the status of the misdemeanor and size of the fines) in your town if you choose to do this. And don't wheatpaste on people's houses or privately owned spaces-it won't get you much support!

You will find that your opponents will have the need to tear your flyers down. Flyer hags love this occasion to be able to show off and strut their stuff. We will stop at nothing to stay a step ahead of our opponents. We put flyers up at four in the morning and case our spots daily to make sure they stay up. When our opponents tear them down, we just put them back up again. True flyer hags will piss off their opponents with their vigilance and commitment (For some real fun check out Greasing Your Poles for lawn-sign vigilance, in Section 1).

Persistent flyering and use of the phone tree cannot be underestimated. We once made over 400 calls to get people to a debate in Moscow featuring local support and opposition to Proposition 1. We told everyone an early start time and consequently, the hall was packed with rowdy anti-Prop 1 forces before anyone from their side ever showed up. When they did, there was no more room-the lone right-wingers squeezed in to stand behind the last row of chairs; the rest of their ranks milled around outside. We brought a variety of signs for our supporters to hold up during the debate, so that even at a distance or on camera, we stood out as opposing Proposition 1. Coverage of the debate was fabulous: it was obvious to anyone that Moscow stood firmly opposed to Proposition 1.

Attracting people to come to your events goes hand in hand with media-as your actions find larger and larger audiences, your media coverage will grow, too. And when your group is in the newspaper, on the radio, on-line, and on TV, people will discover your work in even larger numbers. Recruiting takes many forms and has many purposes in your growing movement, and the same is true for making use of media.

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