Crashing the party: smart mobs and candidate events

No, I’m not talking about the Salahis.

It’s public events that I think we should be ‘crashing’ this election season–the debates and forums and coffees and press conferences and dozens of other photo opportunities and hand-shakings that candidates for local, state, and federal office will hold between now and Election Day. And, because it’s 2010, we need to do it smarter.

Here’s what I’m thinking: nonprofit advocates using social media (especially text messaging) to alert at least a core group of activists when there will be opportunities to get in front (literally, although, increasingly, these events are held online) of candidates, in order to raise your issues and bring immediate attention to your cause. You find out (because you’ve subscribed to the newsletters of all of the candidates in your area; they will be only too glad to add you) that Candidate XYZ, who’s running for Congress, is holding a town hall tomorrow night. You text that to 30 of your supporters, asking for those who will be able to go to raise your priority of (you fill in the blank: juvenile justice reform, special education, homelessness, immigration reform). Exchanging texts or messages, your group finds at least 1-2 people (2 is probably better; if the crowd is hostile, no one will feel totally alone) willing to go, split up, and ask a question to highlight the issue.

The key is, you do this for the coffee the next morning, too, and the debate the following Saturday afternoon, and the press conference next Tuesday, and…you get the idea. Of course, no one has to attend all of those events themselves, because you’re using social media to divide up the work.

You’ll get attention from the candidate and his/her staff, when the same issues are raised repeatedly, and you’ll likely get some media coverage, too, and you might even organize some support from among the other attendees, when they find that you have a common passion.

And these things almost always come with some free refreshments, too, so, you know, there’s always that.

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