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April 20, 2018

Local Public Events

Local Public Events

In addition to town halls, Member of Congress regularly attend public events for other purposes — parades, infrastructure groundbreakings, etc. Like town halls, these are opportunities to get face time with the Member of Congress and make sure they’re hearing your concerns, while simultaneously changing the news story that gets written.

TOWN HALLS WITH SOME TWEAKS

To take advantage of this opportunity, you can follow most of the guidelines above for town halls (filming, etc.). However, because these events are not designed for constituent input, you will need to think creatively about how to make sure your presence and message come through loud and clear.

Tactics for these events may be similar to more traditional protests, where you’re trying to shift attention from the scheduled event to your own message.

OPTIMIZE VISIBILITY.

Unlike in town halls, you want your presence as a group to be recognizable and attention-getting at this event. It may make sense to stick together as a group, wear relatively similar clothing / message shirts, and carry signs in order to be sure that your presence is noticeable.

BE PREPARED TO INTERRUPT AND INSIST ON YOUR RIGHT TO BE HEARD.

Since you won’t get the mic at an event like this, you have to attract attention to yourself and your message. Agree beforehand with your group on a simple message focused on a current or upcoming issue. Coordinate with each other to chant this message during any public remarks that your Member of Congress makes. This can be difficult and a bit uncomfortable. But it sends a powerful message to your Member of Congress that they won’t be able to get press for other events until they address your concerns.

IDENTIFY, AND TRY TO SPEAK WITH, REPORTERS ON THE SCENE.

Be polite and friendly, and stick to your message. You may want to research in advance which local reporters cover Members of Congress, so that you know who to look for.

HOLD ORGANIZATIONAL HOSTS ACCOUNTABLE.

Often these events will be hosted by local businesses or nonpartisan organizations — groups that don’t want controversy or to alienate the community. Reach out to them directly to express your concern that they are giving a platform to Anti-American values. If they persist, use social media to express your disappointment. Members of Congress depend on invitations like these to build ties and raise their visibility — so this matters to them.