Event Guide

Thanks for organizing a "Speak Out" against the Republican’s "Reverse Robin Hood" budget proposal.

The Basic Event
The radical right is trying to slide through a budget proposal that slashes funding for Medicaid, food stamps and student loans—all to pay for tax breaks for the very wealthy. It's a "Reverse Robin Hood" budget, robbing the poor to pay back the rich. Though the exact timing is still up in the air, Congress may schedule the final vote on the budget proposal (which is called a "reconciliation bill") as soon as mid-November. To make sure our voices are heard in time, we’re organizing Speak Outs against the Reverse Robin Hood budget on Wednesday, November 16th. The goal of the Speak Outs is to turn up the heat on Congress by highlighting the devastating impact the Republican budget would have on local communities—and getting the media to broadcast the story. Reporters are looking for local stories, and real faces, to connect with the large numbers and procedural complexity of the national budget process. These events will get the real story out, and play a powerful role in preserving the programs regular Americans depend on. Speak Outs will feature local citizens who will be affected by these cuts telling their personal stories. We’ll invite other MoveOn members to attend and to bring empty plates to demonstrate our message—that Congress must not pass a budget that slashes services leaving the poor and middle-class with empty plates this Thanksgiving. We also suggest setting up a Thanksgiving banquet table with all the plates empty except one (see below for details), to dramatize the theme—these kinds of visuals will increase your likelihood of getting coverage. You’ll recruit someone to serve as the MC, introducing the speakers and providing local numbers, which we’ll provide, for how many people rely on Medicaid, food stamps, and student loans in your district. Sounds complicated, but the guide below walks you through organizing a successful Speak Out step-by-step.

1. Figure out who your target is. The Congressional Republican leadership is pushing hard to ram through their "Reverse Robin Hood" plan for the federal budget, but their support is wavering—even within their own party. Democrats are standing firm against the proposed cuts, so to win all we need is to push a handful of Republicans to vote the right way—and with your help those votes could even come from the most surprising legislator. To be effective, your event should be very clear about who you are targeting, and what you want them to do. We don't need to know who your target is, but you'll need to know to finalize your location and for some of the materials we'll be providing. Your message will reach and impact 1

all of your representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, but it's important to have a target to help pick a location and focus your message. If you have a Republican representative, select him or her as your target. If you don't have a Republican representative, but you do have a Republican senator, select him or her as your target.

This guide refers throughout to several websites (outlined in the text). Following are the addresses for these sites: Event registration page: http://political.moveon.org/event/events/create.html?action_id=28 Coordinators page: http://political.moveon.org/event/SpeakOut/login Materials page: http://www.moveonpac.org/budgetaction/materials.html Operation Democracy Action Center: http://www.operationdemocracy.org/team/members/message.html

For all members of Congress we are asking them to vote "No" on the "budget reconciliation bill" if it includes cuts to vital programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and student loans. If your Republican legislator has been good on the budget so far, you'll thank him or her for breaking ranks on previous votes, and urge him or her to continue to do the right thing by voting "No" on the final budget. The materials you'll get on Thursday 11/10, on the materials page, will specify which legislators fall in this category. If none of your congressional representatives are Republican, but you have a Republican governor, select him or her as your target and urge him or her to publicly oppose these budget cuts. The cuts, particularly in Medicaid, will have a big impact on state budgets as the states scramble to cover some of the difference. And if a Republican governor opposes the budget, it will send a particularly powerful message to Congress. 2. Pick a location. The best location is your target’s district office. If there isn’t a district office in your community, pick a location that helps symbolize the impact the cuts will have locally. Be sure it’s public property and it's ok to be there. A few possibilities: In front of a local college or high school, outside the food bank (confirm with them first), in front of the local Republican party headquarters, or anywhere else that can visually dramatize who will be affected. Make sure it's not someplace where you can legally do it, where you have enough space, where a camera filming you will be able to take in you and the backdrop you've chosen, and where noise from traffic won't drown out your speakers. Also, because your top priority for your Speak Out is to get the message out through the local media, you need to select a location that’s accessible and make sure you have a street address and good directions. 3. Pick a time. You’re much, much more likely to get media coverage if you hold your event during the day, between 10 and noon. If you can’t do it until after work, it’s still worth doing, but you probably won’t get as much coverage. So even though it's harder and some people won't be able to make it, we strongly encourage you to hold a mid-day event.


4. Register your event online. If you haven’t already, please register your event on the event registration page. 5. Recruit some helpers. The more help you have, the more successful your event will be. Wherever possible, we’ll ask volunteers who’ve expressed interest in helping to sign up for your event and let you know they’re available. But don’t wait—ask some friends to help you out. It’s not hard and they can really make a difference! You can easily invite some friends from your coordinator page. Also, if you’re on an Operation Democracy team, ask your team to help. You can easily email your whole team from the Action Center, and, if you're a Team Leader, you can find their phone numbers there as well (phone calls work far better than emails alone!!) Be sure to check your event sign-ups every few days, on your coordinator page—members who can help will indicate that on this page. Then you can email them and get them going. 6. Divide up the work and assign it out. Below we outline one way to divvy up the work, but feel free to combine roles and assign tasks in the way that works best for you. Since most of you will have a small team to work with the most important thing is just to make sure you cover the priorities. You should serve as the "Backstop" for the event—which means you are bottom line responsible for making the event happen. As backstop, you make sure that everyone knows what they need to do. You should also check back in with them, and reassign responsibilities as needed. Logistics Coordinator: Usually the Backstop also fills this role, which involves scouting the location, changing it and updating the event online if needed. This person also coordinates recruitment by making sure that everyone is inviting their friends, and Operation Democracy teammates (don't forget to make these calls yourself as well). This person also is responsible for making sure all the necessary materials make it to the event the day-of. Media Team: The media team is responsible for getting the press to the event. This involves building a press list, putting local details into the media advisory, emailing or faxing it to reporters, and then, most importantly, calling reporters. If there are multiple people on this team, they can each take a type of media to be responsible for (i.e. radio, TV, etc). Speakers Coordinator: Whoever is responsible for the speakers should get started right away recruiting speakers from your community. They should be sure to ask others working on the event if they have any good ideas or contacts. Other MoveOn members in your area may submit their own personal stories. You’ll need to make this person a co-host on your coordinator page so they also receive these stories to review. This person will select the best from among the possibilities you identify, confirm their attendance, and prep them. 7. Participate in a training call (and get your helpers to join you if they can). We’ve scheduled two national conference calls. You can join either one. On these calls we’ll walk


through the plan and our message and review some tips on getting the media to your event. Just join in at whichever time works best for you. Wednesday, November 9th, 9 pm Eastern Time For quick access, go to https://www.spiderphone.com/63188198 (This link will help connect both your browser and telephone to the call) OR dial 1 (888) 550-5602 or +1 212-812-2800 and enter 6318 8198 Sunday, November 13th, 8 pm Eastern Time For quick access, go to https://www.spiderphone.com/19308204 (This link will help connect both your browser and telephone to the call) OR dial 1 (888) 550-5602 or +1 212-812-2800 and enter 1930 8204 8. Find your speakers (Speakers Coordinator). You want to find speakers with compelling stories about the importance to themselves and your community of Medicaid, food stamps and student loans. Ideally you’d have one speaker on each topic telling a 3-minute personal story. You also need to identify a good MC (this can be you). Minimally you need the MC and one person telling their story. The speakers will be most compelling if they are really telling a story of their life, versus outlining all the reasons that these cuts are wrong. Remember, your goal is to personalize and put a local face on these specific programs. But you'll probably need to give them some basic info about how these programs will be cut by the Republican budget, so they can allude to that in their remarks. We’ll be asking MoveOn members in your area who've already taken action on this issue to email you with personal stories on Wednesday, 11/9. They will be asked to indicate whether they can attend and tell their story or whether someone else could read their story instead. We can't guarantee how many speakers and stories this will yield—you may have plenty, or you may need to find more on your own. Select the best of the stories submitted by MoveOn members (again, ideally one on each topic), then email those members back to let them know. Since you may not get a lot of stories from members, it’s a good idea to make some calls right away to identify at least one good speaker. The director of a food pantry, someone you know who receives Medicaid or has in the past, someone from the local anti-poverty organization, a representative from a clinic that serves patients on Medicaid, the parent of a handicapped child, or a student who is depending on student loans would all be good candidates. Again, you need to make sure they can tell a compelling story about the impact the cuts would have on ideally on them personally, but it could also be on their clients. Once you’ve found your speaker(s), it’s critical that you set up a time to talk to them, in person or over the phone, to confirm their attendance and to listen to them practice their


presentation. It’s hard to stick to three minutes unless you’ve actually practiced first. Plus saying something out loud will help you both catch anything that isn’t clear or sounds weird. The MC should also practice their speech for you, or if it is you, you should practice it in front of someone else. It can feel silly, but you’ll be so much more comfortable presenting in front of reporters if you’ve practiced your speech. A script for the MC will be posted on your materials page by Thursday 11/10. It’s much better for TV coverage, if the MC and speakers can speak without looking at a piece of paper (although if anyone’s nervous they’ll forget, they should have it with them). One easy way to get everyone to present their speeches is to schedule a dry run for the weekend before the event. It doesn’t need to take more than 15 minutes (which is about how long the speaking portion of your event should last). In any case, you need to have your speaker(s) and MC committed and prepped by Sunday 11/13. 9. Check in with the Backstops for other events near you (Backstop). There may be other events in your area. If there are events hear you, you'll have a link in the tool box on your coordinator page that says "Email nearby hosts." By reaching out to other hosts in your area, you may be able to reduce both of your workloads— especially by coordinating media outreach in your area. For example, if both of your events are in the same TV station or major newspaper's coverage area, you can divide up these calls so that one of you takes responsibility for notifying some media outlets and the other takes the rest. You can could also coordinate creation of your advisory, so that both events are listed on the advisory and you notify reporters of both events with each call. Some considerations if you decide to coordinate like this—the event that's likely to have the best visuals and the biggest crowd should invite the TV stations and the major newspaper. If after talking to any nearby hosts, you decide to consolidate your actions and work together as one big team, that's also fine. Just be sure to cancel the event that isn't going to happen from your coordinator page. 10. Build your media list (Media Team). Get started on this as soon as you can so it’s ready when you need it. There’s a lot here, but just start at the top of the chart below and do what you have time for. The local Associated Press office is your most important media contact. You'll need to look up contact info for the media outlets in your area. Look up the phone numbers and contact info, using your phonebook and/or the internet. The following websites are a great place to start, but contact information for the press changes very often. Information found online should be verified by phone. Working Assets, Act for Change media tool: http://capwiz.com/wa/dbq/media/ For local AP contact information: http://www.ap.org/pages/contact/contact.html


As a last resort, use Google (or the phonebook) to research media outlets in your area, searching by town name and “media” or “TV” or “newspapers” or “radio.” Keep track of the information you collect. You can use it again for future lists. And we’ll ask you to email it back to us for a system we’re creating for tracking media contacts. Outlet The Associated Press (AP) Your local TV station that covers local news daily. Your local daily newspaper(s) Your local weekly newspaper(s) Your local radio station if it does its own local news— likely an all news station & probably a public radio station. Your local progressive columnist Other relevant “beat” reporters Info You Need Why You Want to Include Them They are a syndicate, meaning other outlets often pick up their stories. They General phone number & ealso keep a "daybook" or list of events in mail for the local office in the area that other media outlets use to your state. decide what to cover. You definitely want them post your event in their daybook! Phone, e-mail, & fax of the Because they are local, they are going to be interested in what is going on in the newsroom or assignment area. Most people get their news from TV. editor. The general phone number & e-mail for the newsroom Because they are local, they are going to & of the news editor at the be interested in what is going on in the metro/city desk, because area. he/she will decide whether to cover your event. General phone number & eSame as above. mail for the newsroom. Phone, e-mail, & fax number of the newsroom or news director. Same as above. If they can’t make it to your event, offer them an interview about your event by phone. Interested in a local angle to a national story. Needs to be given notice of your event separate from the notice you give the publication’s newsroom. Newspapers use ‘beat’ reporters, so you can often figure out which reporters cover the courts, the environment, politics, etc. If you have time it’s good to invite these people separately also.

Personal phone & e-mail at the paper.

Personal phone numbers & e-mail at the paper.

11. Localize the advisory (Media Team). The advisory will be posted by Thursday, 11/10, on your materials page. You’ll need to watch for any sections surrounded by brackets, like this "[text to be replaced]," and replace them with local information, including time, location, and your target’s name. If multiple people are making press calls, one person should be responsible for entering this information and getting it out to everyone on Friday, 11/11.


TIPS: Pitching a story

12. Email advisories & make your calls (Media Team). Set aside an hour or so on Monday, 11/14 for this, and/or line up some people to help you. The most important thing when contacting the media is to talk with a live person over the phone at each outlet and make sure that they know what a great story your event will make. Before you start your calls review the press calls script, posted by Thursday, 11/11 on your materials page. Spend a minute thinking about what you’ll say before starting your calls. Say it out loud. You’re trying to take the most interesting and timely aspects of the story and condense them into 30 seconds or less. Check out our tips on pitching a story. Then fax or email your advisory to the list you built. Follow up, also on Monday 11/14, with a call to make sure they know about your event. Ask them if they received your advisory. If they didn’t get it, ask them where to send it. But whether or not they got it, quickly tell them why this will be a great event to cover (your script will help with this). The most important call is the one to your local Associated Press (AP) office. Ask them to put your event on their “day book”—the list of events in the area that other media outlets use when deciding what to cover. Tip: Here are the ideal times for calling the media: ● Call TV stations before 9am, which is when they have their morning assignment meeting. ● Call radio anytime, they get up early. ● Call papers between 9am and 10am, when editors & reporters choose stories for the day. Note: If you can't call during these times, just call when you can. But be sure to ask if the reporter is 'on deadline' before you start, in case they're rushing to finish something. They may ask you to call back in a bit.

Reporters are always looking for good stories and you have one, but you have to make sure they know that in a brief conversation. • GET TO THE POINT. You’ll have about 30 seconds to get the reporter’s attention. • PRACTICE. Write out & practice your pitch on someone who isn’t involved to see if they understand and think it’s interesting. You will basically be able to get in one sentence about why this is a good story. Make it a good sentence! • MENTION VISUALS: For TV, & to a lesser extent newspaper, stories with good visuals are far more likely to get coverage. Prepare visuals & mention them in your pitch. If you're talking to a newspaper editor, suggest sending a photographer & a reporter. If you're talking to a reporter, ask if it's worth giving a separate call to the photo editor. • RESPECT DEADLINES. Try to call in the morning or early afternoon when most reporters are not on deadline. Ask if the reporter is on deadline before you begin. If they are, ask when to call back. • BE RELEVANT. Tie the story to something timely. Reference related pieces by the reporter—“I saw your story on the Supreme Court, & thought you’d be interested in a rally that MoveOn is holding next week.” • BE HONEST WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW. You’re a regular person calling in with an interesting story, not an expert on the issues, so if you do not know the answer to a reporter’s inquiry, offer to call back with the information. Do not make up facts. They may appear on tomorrow’s front page. • DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. If a reporter is on deadline and is brusque, don't let that shake you. It is essential in this situation that you respond courteously to their situation by offering to call back, ask when would be the best time to call back, find out if you can email or fax the information, etc. Others may be brusque even when not on deadline. Don't take it personally. • ASK WHY. If a reporter isn’t interested in covering your event, politely ask why. The answer may help you strengthen your pitch before talking to the next reporter. Or you may find that it’s not in their area—then ask if there’s another reporter who might be interested. • FOLLOW UP. If the reporter wants more information or would like to do an interview with you after the event, be sure to follow up.


13. Localize news release (Media Team). The news release will be posted on your materials page on Thursday 11/10. Fill in your local details and bring plenty of copies to your event. You’ll be giving this to reporters at the event. 14. Get your visuals and materials together (Logistics Coordinator). By the day before your event, you should have all of the materials you'll need lined up. Here's an overview of what you'll need: Having good visuals can make all the difference in terms of media attendance (as long as you describe them to the media during your pitch calls, so they know to come). Having good visuals often determines whether you get a photo and a caption or 30 seconds on TV to tell your story, or no coverage at all. Here's what we recommend for visuals: We encourage you to do something on the Thanksgiving theme. One option: Set up a Thanksgiving table: a folding table w/ a tablecloth, place settings and the whole works. Set out platters and plates, but leave them all empty, except one plate high to overflowing with food—a pile of sliced turkey and some mashed potatoes from the deli will do. Put a big sign on the table which says "Republicans Reverse Robin Hood Budget Plan" and smaller signs next to the full plate saying "rich cronies" and the other plates saying "average American." Or even have someone sit behind the full plate, dressed like a millionaire, with a cigar, and wear a placard around their neck that says "Rich Crony", and sit at the head of the table. If you do this, you'll want to be sure to reference the tableaux in your remarks—the MC script will include this. If this is too much, you can do the simple version: Bring paper plates for everyone to hold. Someone with good clear writing can put messages on the plates in thick black marker. Some ideas: “No empty plates. Oppose the budget cuts.” “Congress: Don’t leave Americans with empty plates this Thanksgiving” "Congress: Oppose the reverse Robin Hood budget" “Oppose the budget cuts” “Protect student loans” “Protect health care for the poor” “Protect food stamps this Thanksgiving” "Protect health care, nutrition and education for the poor and middle class" Also, make sure you have nametags and a sign in sheet ready to bring with you. Plan on getting to your event a little early to set everything up (and ask some friends to help you)! 15. Make reminder calls to your volunteers and speakers the day before the event (Logistics Coordinator, Speakers Coordinator). Everyone needs a reminder now and then! Just imagine how you’ll feel with reporters arriving if your speakers aren't there. It CAN happen. A quick call works better than email for making sure that people will be there.


16. Make reminder calls the morning of your event (Media Team). Your call to AP is most important for reminders as well. Reminder calls are the best way to get reporters to your event, even if you've spoken to them recently. It’s your last chance to give a QUICK “pitch” about why your event is newsworthy— mention the visuals—and to make sure they have the time, location and other details right. Often just reminding them of your event can be the deciding factor in whether they show up. Again, spend a minute thinking about what you’ll say in advance. Remember, keep it brief. 17. Greet your volunteers and speakers (Logistics Coordinator & Speakers Coordinator). Be sure to greet your speakers as they arrive and ask them to fill out a nametag. Make sure they feel comfortable and are ready for their speech. Almost everyone gets nervous before doing a presentation and you can help set them at ease (even if you’re nervous yourself). It’s also good to assign someone (not you if you’re the MC) to greet volunteers as they arrive. 18. Greet the press (Media Team). It’s important that someone be assigned to this (and this could be you, the MC, the volunteer greeter, as long as someone is watching for reporters). This person should greet reporters, give them a copy of the news release, ask them if they need any help, and write their name and news outlet down on the sign-in sheet so you know who was there. If you’re the greeter, spend some time in advance thinking about what you’ll say to any reporters at the event. Be sure to review the materials, including the speaker script and Q&A, so you know the message. All the materials can be found on your materials page starting Thursday, 11/10. Reporters will usually ask a few simple questions: What are you doing out here? What do you hope to accomplish? Do you think you’ll have an impact? It’s important to practice answering these questions in advance so that you stick to your talking points, and stay "on message." You want something short, honest and from the heart, that captures the message and that's simple and memorable. It may sound silly to practice, but you'll have one chance to explain what the whole thing is about, and some reporters will be looking for quotes they can use to marginalize what we're doing. So it's important to think about it in advance, and get it right in the moment. At the event, watch for reporters, greet them, and if they ask you questions, use the statement you practiced. Tip: you can often recognize reporters because they’re the only ones at your event taking notes, just like in the movies. 19. Start on time (Logistics Coordinator). Don’t wait more than 5 minutes for reporters or other volunteers to show up. Even if a reporter said he/she would come, something else may have come up.


20. Take Photos (Logistics Coordinator). If possible, assign someone to take digital photos of your event. After the event, email your best photos to us at speakoutpics@moveon.org. 21. Watch for stories (Media Team). After your event, everyone should be on the look-out for newspaper articles or TV or radio stories. If a TV camera is at your event, be sure someone agrees to record the news on that channel so you can report the coverage back to MoveOn and see it afterwards. Watching your clips is fun, and it's the best way to learn from experience how you can improve coverage of your events. 22. Report back. Tell us how the event went and about coverage you received here: http://www.political.moveon.org/budgetaction/aftersurvey.html. Finally, send in the list you built of reporters to call with all their contact information to: medialists@moveon.org.

Additional Information on the Budget
The following are resources for finding out more about the federal budget process and the current budget proposal. We'll also be posting a fact sheet about the budget proposal later this week. Center on Budget Policies and Priorities: The Center has released a report that provides an overview of who is hurt, who's spared, and who's helped by the House reconciliation proposals adopted the last week of October by the Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Agriculture committees. http://www.cbpp.org/10-28-05bud.htm Analysis of the budget reconciliation package by Representative Spratt (D-SC) of the House Budget Committee: Pages 1-3 summarize the package. http://www.political.moveon.org/budgetaction/reconciliation.pdf Articles on the budget: Washington Post editorial http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1030 "Gunning for the poor" Harold Myerson Op-Ed Column in the Washington Post, 10/19/05 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1007

There are a lot of steps for this event, so we’ve also included a timeline that you can use as a quick reference to make sure you’re on track. We’ve noted the top priorities in bold.


Ongoing: Check your coordinator tools every few days for new volunteers Check your email regularly—Move on members interested in speaking will be emailing their stories to you and you’ll need to follow up with them Monday 11/7 Tuesday 11/8Friday 11/11 Select your location, target and time. Register your event. Line up speakers. Build your media list. Participate in a training conference call Wednesday at 9 PM EST. Recruit helpers and assign out roles Make sure you’ve heard each speakers presentation—do a dry run if you can Localize your advisory Participate in a training conference call Sunday at 8 PM EST, if you didn't on Weds. Email or fax your advisory to your media list, then call them Localize the news release Reminder calls to volunteers and speakers Get your materials together Reminder calls to reporters the morning of your event Make sure you bring all your materials including the release Take photos Track your press coverage Fill out your follow-up survey

Saturday 11/12Sunday 11/13

Monday, 11/14 Tuesday, 11/15

Wednesday, 11/16


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