A Strong Showing: Making a Rally Uber Effective

A public rally can be a great way to increase visibility for AAUW, generate media coverage, and raise awareness about a policy issue. Below are some tips and tricks for making your rally super effective (or uber effective!). And we’re here to help — consider us your resource and sounding board. 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 in favor of a particular policy issue. A rally can take place almost anywhere — from a street corner to a state capitol. Rallies can also take any form — they can include a march, a delivery to an elected official, a press conference, and so forth.

Tips and Tricks for an Effective Rally

Hold the rally in a visible and easily accessible location. Rallies are most effective when they’re not just for those who attend but also for those walking by. Effective rallies are about visibility; you want the public to see — and hear — you. You also want to make sure that your chosen location is easily accessible, which means a place that is easy to find. If your location is hard to find, fewer people will come, and fewer people will see your gathering (remember, visibility is key!).

Select a relevant location. 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).

Think about all the legalities of the location. 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 worry, we promise the logistics are not overwhelming! Just a little bit of research can ensure that your rally is not shut down before it has a chance to make an impact.

Keep it 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 to be front and center in our activities, your rally will be more effective and better received if you include other organizations. There is definitely something to be said for strength in numbers! So reach out to allied organizations and ask for their assistance in planning and executing your rally, especially in when it comes to inviting their networks and members to attend.

Give the media a heads up. Having a media presence will greatly expand the event’s impact — making it even more effective. 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). Call reporters the day after you send the media advisory to follow up, and resend the media advisory the day before the event. Persistence is key! Send a news release the morning of the event to capture reporters’ interest, and call that day 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. An effective rally is one where AAUW is prominently featured! 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 activity, or participating in a planning meeting.

Report Back

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


Related Resources

Advocacy How-to Guides

Resources to guide activists in advocacy efforts.

How to Work with the Media

Build relationships and draw attention to AAUW priority issues and events you are planning.

New Resources for AAUW Members: Grassroots Organizers

Organizers are supporting members as they coordinate community activities around public policy issues, work with campus leaders, and implement AAUW programs.