A Strong Showing: How to Host a Rally


A public rally can be a great way to increase visibility for AAUW, generate media coverage, and raise awareness about a policy issue. Here are some best practices for making the most of your rally. If you’re not already in touch with AAUW’s public policy and government relations staff, please e-mail us at advocacy@aauw.org.

What Is a Public Rally?

A public rally is a gathering of a large group of people to raise awareness or voice support or opposition to a policy issue. A rally I can take place almost anywhere, from a street corner to a state capitol, and can take many forms; they can include, a march, a delivery to an elected official, or a press conference.

Best Practices for an Effective Rally

Hold the rally in a relevant, easily accessible — and legal — location.

Rallies are most effective when they’re not just for those who attend but also for those walking by. Visibility is key: You want the public to see and hear you, so make sure the location is easy to find. Look at locations that relate to the issue you’ll be rallying about (maybe hold your event at a college or university, health insurance company, or a military base) and the audience you are targeting (consider places such as city hall, the state capitol, or a courthouse). Do some footwork to find out the rules and regulations for your location. Do you need a permit? Do you have to pay a fee? Do you have to submit an application? Is a security presence required? Don’t be overwhelmed! Just a little bit of research can ensure that your rally is not shut down before it has a chance to have an impact.

Keep the message focused.

It can be tempting to combine several issues into one event, but that can lead to confusion about the message you are trying to convey to the public, media, and elected officials. Effective rallies have one single, clear message.

Work in a coalition.

While we always want AAUW’s presence to be known, your rally will be more effective and better received if you include other organizations to unite around a single message. Reach out to allied organizations and ask for their assistance in planning and executing your rally, especially in when it comes inviting their networks and members to attend.

Give the media a heads-up.

Having a media presence will greatly expand the event’s impact. Start your outreach approximately three days before the rally by sending a media advisory to appropriate reporters in your area. Remember to include local reporters as well as journalists who cover the issue you are focusing on (e.g., campus reporters, state legislative reporters, or reporters who cover women’s and family issues). Follow up on the phone as the rally approaches to remind them to cover it. For more tips on working with the media, check out AAUW’s How to Work with the Media guide.

Get out front and take credit.

Make sure to have AAUW members in the front of the crowd, distribute plenty of AAUW signs for people to hold, and tell any media at the rally that you’re with AAUW.

Follow up with attendees.

Be sure to circulate a sign-in sheet at your rally. This way you can accurately report on the crowd number and follow up with attendees to further engage them in AAUW’s grassroots activities. When you follow up, include an “ask,” such as joining the AAUW Action Network, attending an upcoming meeting, or participating in a future rally.

Report Back

Don’t forget to let us know how your rally went by filling out this form.



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