Thursday, July 5, 2007

Promoting Local Party Events

If I didn't attend local DEC meetings, I would have no idea how the party interacts within our community. As I learned at the DFA training in Tampa, those of us to attend party meetings (or go to trainings for fun on a weekend) are strange. Normal people don't have the time, interest, or patience for such things. However, they do care about their communities and come election time they're going to be asking themselves "what have you done for me lately" of both parties. I've discovered that even "when you're strange" it isn't easy to find out what the local party is doing. So, I've come up with a few helpful suggestions to promote local party activities to both the regular and odd Democrats out there.


What prompted me to write this is that I found out that the DEC here in Leon County was participating in a 4th of July event, not from a local source, but from the regional director of one the Democratic Presidential campaigns. So, the local party does a better job of communicating among themselves and to the national party than it does to its own constituents. To quote from the movie Cool Hand Luke "What we've got here is ... failure to communicate."

So here's a list of ways DEC's can promote their events:

List Event on State Party Website

Why more DECs and Democratic clubs don't do this is beyond me. It's not difficult at all. Here, let me walk you through it.

Go to fladems.com. From the red menu at the top of the page, put your cursor over "Get Active" and select "Create or Find an Event" from the list of options.



Next, select "Plan an Event". Enter the Zip Code where the event will take place and select what type of event it is from the list of options.



If you do not already have an account, you'll be asked to create one before you can add addtional details about the event, otherwise just login, fill out the rest of the requested information and hit submit. Viola! You're Done!

List Event on Local Party Website

First of all, if you represent your local DEC and it doesn't have a website, contact the Florida Progressive Coalition. They can help you get started.

If you have a website use it! It is discouraging to see Local Party sites with little or no useful information or information that is out of date. The Leon County Democratic Party is still telling people to vote on June 26th for Suzan Franks.



If you're going to have a holiday pinic or are recruiting Democrats to serve as mentors in schools or some other community project - put it on your website.

Send Announcements to Your Public Mailing List

Many DECs have a mailing list, of sorts, to communicate with fellow committee members, but lack a more general list to send information to the public. Mailing lists are an easy and cost efficient way to get your message out.

If you represent a DEC and it doesn't have a mailing list, you can set one up on Google Groups or Yahoo Groups very easily for free or if you want something more sophisticated ask your web services provider or ask for advice from the Florida Progressive Coaltion.

Make sure that you keep it simple. On the Leon County Democratic Party's site the link to "Become a member!" and the link to "Get email updates!" asks you to fill out the same information in the form. So much information is requested to get simple email updates that its likely to discourage people from filling it out.



As you can see, the form is so long it scrolls beyond the end of the screen. The Florida Democratic Party's site has it right. It only asks people for their email address and zip code. Usually a name and email address is the only information that should be required and it should be clear to the user what information is required and what is optional.


List Event in the Local Newspaper

Most local newspapers provide a community calendar or listing of events and provide this service FREE of charge. Here in Leon County, the Tallahassee Democrat makes it easy. You simply fill out an online form and your event will appear in both the online and print edition of the paper.



Another good resource are your smaller community newspapers. In some cases, you can even submit a story and pictures about your event for publicaction.

Radio Stations and Local News

Local radio stations and your local news channels also like to provide information to their audiences about community events. Here in Tallahassee, WCTV the local CBS affiliate, has a page on their website where you can submit a community event.

Meetup.com and Social Networking Sites

Meetup.com is a great tool for building up the local party and notifying people about events. A couple of caveats. First, Meetup.com is free for visitors, but if you want to set up a Meetup.com site it will cost you $12 a month for the service. Second, if you set it up - use it! I signed up for the Tallahassee Democratic Party Meetup Group and showed up to two meetings where nobody from the local party attended.

You can also set up free group sites on places like MySpace.com, Facebook.com and Gather.com. These social networks are particularly useful if you're trying to attract more 18-35 year olds to your events.

Democratic Yahoo or Google Groups

As I mentioned earlier, Yahoo and Google provide free and easy to use mailing lists. There are tons of them that center around the topic of politics and Democratic politics in particular. Chances are, there's one based in your local area. Simply have a member of your DEC join one and post local party announcements.

We have one for Leon County on Yahoo called dem-fl-leon and the local DEC never posts anything to it. It isn't a case where they didn't know it existed. The Leon local party also has a Yahoo Group just for DEC members, which I tried to join just to see if I could get in. The Chair of the Party, politely rejected my request for membership and referred me to the aforementioned Yahoo Group.

Local Activists

Finally, the one resource for getting the word out about party events are your local activists. There's nothing like good old-fashioned word of mouth. Here in Leon we have a local veteren who organizes peace vigils and anti-war demonstrations. He's more than happy to advertise liberal events via his mailing list.

There's also local groups that are a part of the Democratic coalition such as the local chapter of the Sierra Club, the local DFA, etc., who may be able to help spread the word depending upon the nature of the event. You can also try the new Florida Progressive Calendar.

There's a wealth of resources out there to promote the party and advertise its activities in the community. These are just some of the ones that came up off the top of my head. If you have other suggestions, post them in the comments.

7 comments:

Larry Thorson said...

Quite a few tiptop tips in this post.

Ray Seaman said...

Hey Jennifer - you're cross posting this over at BFDECs right? :)

Jennifer said...

Yes, Ray, I'll be cross-posting soon.

Jennifer said...

Ha! The Leon Dems updated their website today!

Ray Seaman said...

Thanks for the crosspost!

Eddie Schwieterman said...

Great Suggestions!

Eventful.com is also a great place to post your events, because it submits those events to other sites and search engines.

Eventful Politics:

http://eventful.com/politics

Phillip Perry said...

Jennifer, thanks for mentioning the FDP Events Center. A shortcut link to get to it is http://www.fladems.com/events

Also, don't forget the Event invite features built into MySpace and FaceBook.