Electorate Events

richarddinatale.jpgMembers of Parliament regularly attend public events for various purposes — parades, infrastructure groundbreakings, etc. These are opportunities to get face time with your MP and make sure they’re hearing about your concerns, while simultaneously changing the news story that gets written.

As 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.

Before the Event

Consider the Type of Event You Will Attend

Be very thoughtful about the optics of the event you will attend. It is important to respect that some of the events that your MP will attend will be of significance to a particular group or community. For example, your MP might attend a carols night at a primary school in your electorate.

It is important not to derail these events, as this will cast your message in an unfavourable light. Use your discretion and choose to take action at events that will elevate your message and help you win the support of a wider public

Send out a notice of the event to your group, and get commitments from members to attend.

Distribute to all of them whatever information you have on your MPs stance on early education. Agree beforehand with your group on a simple message focused on a current or upcoming issue e.g. Early educators are undervalued and underpaid. We demand equal pay NOW.

At the Event

Get there early, meet up, and get organised. 

Meet outside or in the parking lot for a quick huddle before the event.

Optimise visibility. 

You want your presence as a group to be recognisable 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.

As you may not be offered a mic at the event you attend, you have to attract attention to yourself and your message.

Coordinate with each other to chant this message during any public remarks that your MP makes. This can be difficult and a bit uncomfortable. But it sends a powerful message to your MP that they won’t be able to get press for other events until they address your concerns.

Record everything!

Assign someone in the group to use their smart phone or video camera to record other advocates asking questions and the MP’s response. While written transcripts are nice, unfavorable exchanges caught on video can be devastating for MPs. These clips can be shared through social media and picked up by local and national media.

Identify, and try to speak with, reporters on the scene. 

Be polite and friendly, and stick to your message. For example, “We’re here to remind our MP that some of her constituents are early educators. Many of us are paid $20 per hour, which is well below the national average. We need equal pay.”  You may want to research in advance which local reporters cover MPs or relevant stories, so that you know who to look for.

After the Event

Reach out to media, during and after the event.

If there’s media at the event, the people who asked questions should approach them afterward and offer to speak about their concerns. When the event is over, you should engage local reporters on Twitter or by email and offer to provide an in-person account of what happened, as well as the video footage you collected.

Example Twitter outreach:

.@reporter I was at (your MP’s) event in Campbelltown today. Large group asked about equal pay in early childhood education. I have video & happy to chat.

Note: It’s important to make this a public tweet by including the period before the journalist’s Twitter handle. Making this public will make the journalist more likely to respond to ensure they get the intel first.

Share everything.

Post pictures, video, your own thoughts about the event, etc., to social media afterward. Tag the MP’s office and encourage others to share widely.

Article adapted from Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda, which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- ShareAlike 4.0 International License.