Grassroots publicity & outreach
Unfortunately, we don’t have the budgets of governments and corporations in terms of advertisng and targeting of public space. However what we do have is numbers and creativity.
Getting the word out, either about an event or your project, doesn’t need to be challenging. It can just take a bit of creative effort in the right direction, and sometimes a sustained effort. Before undertaking any publicity, think it through. Why are you doing this? Who do you want to attract? For what reason?
Knowing your purpose will help you decide your publicity platforms and how to best target your efforts. Different types of publicity include:
• Physical posters & leaflets
• Word of mouth (don’t underestimate it!)
• Newspapers &
• Door-dropping leaflets
• Social media including facebook and twitter
• Email newsletters & discussion lists
• Independent media sites such as Indymedia
- Is your message clear?
- Are all essential bits of information obvious?
- Is your graphic design attractive?
- What does it communicate about you?
- How will you manage the potential response generated?
Further information & resources
- Rising Tide, the climate change network have excellent How-To guides and other resources, on public speaking and dealing with groups and the media.
Organising in Rural Areas
It can be quite challenging in a rural county like Somerset to get things off the ground locally. Its not like their cities with their buzz of activity and huge numbers of people moving in & out, pollinating projects with new ideas and energy. However, with a bit of long term thinking and different strategies, we can still find allies to organise with in rural areas. Some key tips may include:
- Tap into existing groups and networks - for example Incredible Edible Somerset, the Women’s Institute, Parish Councils and more. You may not find the most radical allies but you will find local, connected people with experience in making things happen.
- Go to where people are, even if this involves door dropping leaflets in houses themselves. Mother and baby groups in local village halls, local fetes and agricultural fayres, all of these options create opportunities to meet people and build relationships.
- Utilise local publicity, such as the very local parish news or local newspaper, widely read by many that don’t use the internet.
- Host visitors! Need some radical energy now and again? Why not host WOOFers or visitors from other projects and places, to keep your group inspired & interesting.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Even if it takes energy to travel, get along to inspiring events and actions, and make the effort to organise and spend time with people that you have shared passions with.
- Don’t expect miracles. Grassroots community organising is a long term process! Relationships and projects can take time to mature and develop into something more abundant.
Working with young people
In Somerset, a common query from groups organising for social change, such as transition groups, is how to attract young people. It seems like there is a deficit of youthful energy, taken away to cities and social lives.
However, there are ways to get young people on board, and the tips are similar to the above:
- Be aware that funding and services to young people have been brutally cut in Somerset, we don’t have much formal infrastructure in place to support young people.
- Go to where they are - be it schools, colleges, skate parks and so forth.
- Understand that a lot of young people will leave Somerset to go to university or to move for employment. Growing up in a rural area can be challenging, you can be itching for me and its very likely that a lot of people will leave to spend time in cities, even if they do return a few years later!
- Young families are under enormous pressure, to simply survive, get the bills paid & feed their families. Be aware of demands you are placing on each other, and think of how your organising could support someone in this situation so they ‘obtain a yield’. For example the Little Vikings Food Coop in Watchet was started in response to listening to parents struggling to afford to feed their kids fresh veg. Likewise, a gardening club that can help overcome social isolation may be more effective than expecting every family to maintain an entire allotment!