How can I cause the largest anti-war rally in the Southeast? In 10 days...
November 1, 2006 11:49 PM   Subscribe

Literally. We have started a rally/day-long protest/24 hours of fun to take place at my college in Clinton, SC (population 10k). The idea is to make it viral. Not just invite everyone we know, but really work everyone to invite everyone they know.

Right now, there are 100+ confirmed coming via an effort on Facebook. And I'm about to Digg the blog for the event. I have a number of friends with blogs and will be asking them to consider giving a shout out. On the 12th, we'll have some wifi-enabled laptops out for people to IM/email/call/text their friends back at home or at college telling them to get in the car and come.

But what all can I do to make this go viral and turn into something truly huge and amazing. (p.s. if you are within a state or two and want to be a part of something gigantic... :)

Thanks for all that you are as a part of MetaFilter. It really is amazing being a part of you all. Peace,
posted by gbinal to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Make a flier out of a magazine collage. Photocopy it thousands of times a Kinkos. Hand it out copiously.

Scan the flier and send it to freinds in the area, have them repeat the above.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:59 PM on November 1, 2006

Oh, one more thing regarding the fliers. In a similar expirament, my friends and I printed each susequent "edition" of the flier on a different color (never on white) and took note of what color flier was carried by various participants. We were surprized to find just how many showed up with white copies!

You might add: Party to Follow on the fliers.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:09 AM on November 2, 2006

Oh, here's a tip:

If you want people to know about it, don't force someone to login to some website just to get the date and location. Yeah, I know, I should be signed up to facebook by now, but I ain't. So there.

Also, what Steven said.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:59 AM on November 2, 2006

College kids do poorly thought out things all the time, and other people are good at ignoring these kinds of ideas. Don't get your hopes up, but sure, see if you can get your message into a spam bot network.
posted by paulsc at 1:05 AM on November 2, 2006

Hi, gbinal. Thanks for your efforts, which are really important, and I wish you luck. How big do you want this to be?
The biggest way to help organise a large anti-war rally is to use existing networks. Traditional organising techniques are semi-viral in themselves, but could benefit greatly from your ingenious application of social software. I recommend getting the traditional and experienced anti-war activists in your area involved. To wit, a long barrage of questions:
Have you gotten endorsement from the big anti-war groups in your area? Like United for Peace and Justice, International Action Center and the like. If you get their endorsement that gives you the right to call every group that's signed on with them in the area and ask them to spread the word. Same with trade unions, candidates, prominent activists in the like in the area. Every one of them. Contact information is available on the internet. Church groups: Friends, Unitarians, many progressive Catholic and Protestant churches. Metropolitan Community Church. Gay groups. Feminist groups. immigrant support groups. etc. etc. etc. Any of your fellow organisers who are in harder left groups should be able to call their colleagues in other cities and get their butts moving.
The point of calling all these people/groups is to get them to spread the word on their email lists and maybe to take responsibility for organising in your area.
Rideshare is good, but sometimes does not scale. Your bigger campuses and cities are going to want vans. This takes local fundraising effort.
Who are your speakers? Who's the draw? What's the event? I read 'rally' as listening to speakers and a peaceful, permitted march. If you mean something else, i.e. Seattle style street-chess with riot cops, you'll draw a different audience.
These groups often have their own websites where they organise things, so you might want to visit the Indymedia forums and other discussion boards where these folks gather with your blog-link along with the digg route.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:35 AM on November 2, 2006

also, what Deathalicious said in re. facebook. There needs to be more info about the protest on the blog. You want a who what when where why for the event plus a list of organisers, press releases, leaflets/posters for download, and mobile/email contact information for the main organiser and press contact.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:36 AM on November 2, 2006

The best thing youc an do is heed BTGOG's advice - try and get the information to the people who will be interested. As well as blanket publicity, try and get well-connected people behind your campaign - convince them that it is important and the number of people you reach in a meaninful way will increase exponentially.

Other than this, other good blanket-publicity sources are as follows. Can you make a short video and put it on YouTube and Grouper and Google Video and so forth? Submit the blog to reddit (similar to Digg). Submit it to A-list bloggers (Kottke,,, Photomatt and so forth).
posted by pollystark at 3:41 AM on November 2, 2006

Mod note: removed the links - put them in your profile if you want people to look at them, don't self-link on AskMefi
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:25 AM on November 2, 2006

More people will come if there's punch and pie.
posted by electroboy at 6:07 AM on November 2, 2006

PC College reprazent! Class of '88 here. The biggest thing to happen on campus while I was there was a visit by Vice-President, soon-to-be-President, Bush. Post-rally burgers at Whiteford's, perhaps?

Are you getting much involvement from other students? The student population was overwhelmingly old-South conservative when I was there, and I'd be surprised if things have changed that much. If I were you, I'd be prepared for some fairly strident counter-protesting.

I'll blog it, for sure, though.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:51 AM on November 2, 2006

Tell SC media that loads of people will be there (just fib a bit). Tell loads of people that SC media will be there (jut fib a bit). Maybe they'll both show up. I'm trying to think of what kind of incentive would attract participants and one might be that your event could provide them with a media platform to amplify their efforts. If even 500 people get together in Clinton SC to protest the war, nobody cares. If 500 people get together in Clinton SC to protest the war and there's media there to cover it, especially tv, that extends your reach and your event becomes another of those things that the average person takes some note of, adding it to the list of other anti-war events and messages, and potentially changing their mind or inspiring them to get vocal themselves.

Also, be your own media. However many people you have, take tight crowd shots that make them look like a huge group. You Tube it. Send the link to local/state media and your congress reps and your college's website people.

You're in a conservative area, but do you have contact with any sympathetic business people in town? If you can get them to advertise for you, that would be a help and draw in likeminded townies.

Do you know of any families of soldiers killed in the war who now oppose the war? Sign them up. Get them to come speak and advertise that they will be there speaking. That's another reason people will come, because they might not know anyone affected by the war but want to hear from them.

Will Presbyterian let you put up a very large sign advertising the event for a week prior to the event? That'd be something.

What does your school's ROTC cadre think of the war? If you can find sympathetic people in that group who will speak out, that'll add to your credibility.

Can you get any government figure to you join you? Town, county, state? Advertising one of them as a speaker would be a draw and give you credibility. Any local celebrities?

Some kind of stunt/spectacle might be a draw for media and participants too. A human chain down the main road of the town as far as it will stretch? Nice photo op to send to media later if they don't show up.

I do think media will be the key to maximizing your reach and effectiveness, though. In addition to town media if there is any, I'd hit up papers and stations in Greenville and Columbia and any other town around there with some kind of decent small paper.

As for awareness, could you announce your event on places like DailyKos and MyDD and other progressive blogs like that? There will undoubtedly be people in your region who are regular viewers of those sites. They might be drawn to attend or help you get the word out.

Good luck, man. Kudos to you for doing something.
posted by kookoobirdz at 6:53 AM on November 2, 2006

I don't see contact info on your blog or in your profile. I can contact some of my old professors there, if you like, but want to be sure I'm not spilling the beans, as it were; I'm thinking Ingram, Barr, and Gillespie would be supportive of such a thing. I'd also be willing to post to the alumni mailing list. Oh, yeah, and I've spoken to the mayor of Clinton, in person, on several occasions, and would email him, too. But I'd like to contact you directly, first, before I sign my name to anything.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:09 AM on November 2, 2006

You should also contact Lee Ballenger, the Democratic House of Reps candidate from Clinton's district. I spoke to him briefly at February's Band of Brothers rally in DC, and think he'd be a good person to have on your side--he's anti-war and a veteran.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:14 AM on November 2, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you everyone and please keep ideas coming. A few points not in any great order.
-Jessamyn, Sorry about that. Thanks for the correction.
-MrMoonpie, I agree on several points, though I planned to wait until post Tuesday (maybe even if just Wednesday) to contact Mr. Ballenger (I got him here a few weeks ago). I'm very close with the professors you mentioned, but if you are willing, drop me a line and we'll talk more about this.
-Everyone with clarifying questions, I'll be back with those. I'm off to do some other work on the blog and emailing some people. But I'll be back so please, I really do want to hear anything you want to know any thoughts and ideas you have.

I'm adding my contact info in my profile as well as the Democracy For America link for the event, which does allow non-college students (or non-facebook folks) to see all the details without logging in anywhere.

Peace, everyone and I'll be back.
posted by gbinal at 5:19 PM on November 2, 2006

Response by poster: Note: links are in my profile - I really appreciate everyone's ideas so far and hope that more will come.

Pollomacho - thank you. I especially like your second point and will use it.

Deathalicious - Thanks and that should be long since improved.

Paulsc - I hear you, but ...sigh...I'm unwilling to go that route, but am heading for almost as the same in other ways. Thank you though - I hadn't thought of that.

By the Grace - Thank you! I'm working on a number of points you made. You deserve complete answers to all your questions - but for now, there's lots to do. I'm about to email all the SC dem orgs. I'll be back though.

-Pollystark - Good points. We're working on a video. working on reaching out to bloggers.

-Electroboy - fair nuff...

-MrMoonPie - Hi! It's good to come across you here. I would like to get in touch. I plan on contacting all the likely profs and know almost all of them personally, but an email from you to even just some of them would probably strike them deeply. Thank you! And definitely, would you post to the alum list? That would be great!

Peace and I'll be back.
posted by gbinal at 2:10 PM on November 5, 2006

Followup for all still following this thread--I've exchanged a few emails with one of my old professors, and he speaks very highly of gbinal, in general and in regards to his efforts at organizing this event. Good luck!
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:34 AM on November 7, 2006

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