First things first -Beforehand choose a date which best suits the media. -Choose a location - you have the right to hold events on public property, like sidewalks, pedestrian zone, and similar. - Get permission for the event, including all needed details that might need permission, like a march, stall, megaphone use, or specific performances. - Do not announce an event, for which you don’t have permission, so you won’t have to cancel it afterwards. - Never cancel an event, once you have announced it. No matter how bad the weather or how little people come to join.
Preparations I 1) Write up a press release, best in journalistic language, which offers the journalists the opportunity to easily copy/paste what you say. Some will like it, as they have less work then. Have it proofread well by your colleagues. Give the press release a title and subtitle. Include all important details: where, when, what will happen, so the journalists don’t have to make up information on the event. Prepare a journalist pack, with the press release, more information on the issue, like hi- res video and photo materials on CD or DVD, flyers, and give a small gift, like a button, keychain of your organization or similar. Put it all together in a folder, punched pocket or envelope. Remember that whatever you give to a journalist will be archived, not only used the day, you give it to them. 2) Send an invitation (email, text, call them) to the event to all of your members and well- wishers, kindly request them to participate, as the effect of an event also depends on the number of people speaking out together with you. 3) Prepare your banners and posters They must be clear and legible from a distance and have a short and clear message.
Preparations II 4) Prepare a chant in case you use the megaphone and want the group to chant and like this keep the event lively and hearable. Remember that using a megaphone encourages your participants to be louder too. It can be used for chants, but also for reading an informational text for the people you protest against or the passers-by. It definitely attracts people to come closer and see what you do! 5) Prepare flyers with a clear message on why you do the protest and what your goal is, similar to the press release.
Preparations III 6) Assign tasks - who hands out flyers, who carries what, who holds the banners, who takes pictures, assign a coordinator that cares for outlook of the event, etc. 7) Pick a spokesperson for the media. The spokesperson must prepare well, be prepared to answer all kind of questions, read the press release well and be dressed properly. S/he must be firm and convincing. Be professional. Your job is no fun. Even too much smiling or laughing can deliver an unserious impression of the event and issue. 8) Prepare a report of your event which you can send afterwards to journalists that have not shown up, adding two-three pictures that have been taken. Collect email addresses of all bigger newspapers and TV stations in advance.
Checklist What do you need at the event? People! Invite your activists and volunteers to come and help. Banners and Posters Print or draw them – not last minute Other Equipment - paraphernalia for the event (like chains, fur coats, red jumpsuits) - camera (are the batteries charged, the memory stick free?) - journalist packs (CDs/DVDs with picture materials, press release, a small gift) - megaphone (also here the batteries must be charged) Organize the people Rest assured everybody is dressed properly and introduce the subject matter of the event to them. Again check who will take pictures, who is the spokesperson for the media, flyers, who will be the coordinator, over viewing and arranging people’s place, etc. Prepare your report And chose one person to add picture to it and send it directly after the event to remaining media.
The Police When arriving at the place welcome them, thank them for being here and caring, and offer yourself in case they need assistance, or have questions. Offer them your flyers so they know what your event is about. Listen to them, if they are not happy with something/ somebody and when leaving thank them again for backing you. Always be kind, obligingly and considerate with the police. They are not here to bug you, but to protect you. And you cannot make your event without them.
The Journalists Welcome the journalists when they arrive at the event. Hand them their info pack, thank them warmly for coming and answer all their questions. Try to take the contacts of all journalists that come, their emails, cell phone numbers, and promise to stay in touch to inform them on further events. Use them later to send information and invitations. They will tell you, if they don’t want you to contact them anymore. If you know a specific journalist that sympathizes very much with you and your work, give them a more valuable gift, like a book, where actually they find new information on animal welfare and animal rights, but you gain more sympathy by paying special attention to him/her. If you cannot make the difference between a passer-by with his/her digicam and a journalist, don’t be afraid to simply ask ‘Are you a journalist?’ and welcome him/her with the pack then. Keep your eyes open! Sometimes an inconsiderable photographer with a small digital camera shows up. Approach her/him, and ask directly ‘Are you a journalist?’ Don’t miss the chance, because it often happens that the editor has your press release and only wants pictures. But your journalist pack contains even more valuable information for the media, which they can also use in the future. We have seen our pictures in different articles, or found published press releases weeks after having them sent out.
Your Demo must look Professional! What the people see is what you are for them. Watch out what you and your participants wear! Leather shoes, fur trim, specific brands can be counterproductive to your topic! The participants must follow some rules, similar as they would work in a shop. They represent your organization and the issue you talk about at this event. Avoid laughing, chatting, gum chewing, sun glasses, radical clothing, smoking... A picture, mentally or on a digicam, is taken in a moment, and you can’t change it anymore. Be cautious on everyone’s behavior. The coordinator should always go around and see nobody forgets about this.
Think of the journalists! The demo lasts as long as journalists are present. Whatever pictures they take, it can be used one day, for or against you. Whatever your event/demo/protest is about - leave out your personal feelings and thoughts and request your participants also to do so. You must be there as one group with one idea. Do not yell at the person you protest against, do not react on provocations from passers-by, do not disguise your face – avoid negative media and public attention at any means. Again, whatever picture is taken, ends in the archive of the media and can be used any time for or against you. When you stand in front of a building where there are people inside you protest against, believe me, the people know why you are there. Stand with the back against the building and hold your banners into the journalist’s cameras. Hold up your banners and stand in line or however organized. Don’t let peoples’ faces somehow hide behind banners, and watch out that all banners are at same heights – regard smaller and taller people.
Leaving the place Once your time is over, or the journalists are gone, leave the place of event in kindergarten-order, in line, holding up the banners, until you are around the corner. Only then you can relax. Turn to the participants while collecting banners, remaining leaflets, and thank them loud and clear, praise them for their good collaboration and participation. Be aware that usually newbies make their first contact with a group by joining an event. Look who is new to you, introduce yourself and invite the person to come to your office. Take their phone number, to stay in touch. One person should immediately go back to the office, load the pictures to the computer and send a report with the pictures to journalists that have not come to your event.