Leafleting & Tabling
You don't have to form a group to accomplish something; you can do a lot by yourself. If you've uncovered an important local issue, you may wish to print a flyer to hand out to people on the street. Or maybe you've collected signatures from people enthusiastic about earth and animal issues and want to invite them to a meeting with an inspiring speaker. Or you may want to urge local residents to spay and neuter their animals. Once you've defined your message and audience, try to prepare a leaflet that will reach them.
MAKING WORDS COUNT
Your leaflet must answer the questions what, where, when, who, and why. It must tell people specifically what they can do to help. Include contact information and direct to the reader to sources of additional information on the topic.
People won't read a long complicated leaflet, so keep your sentences short and clear. Use descriptive headings, subheadings and quotations to get your main points across, and use three or four headings to a page so that if people only read the headlines they still get the message. Keep your flier simple, to the point and easy to understand.
Don't make remarks you can't substantiate. Be careful not to make libelous statements - call the act cruel and irresponsible, not the individual.
Often, making a leaflet starts with some creative brainstorming. Taking the time to develop ideas will help when planning the printed page in more detail. You'll most likely want a central theme for the leaflet. Developing words that go along with this theme will help when it's time to create all of the text that will go into this document. Each separate fold of a leaflet may have its own unique focus, so think about how each part of your project will fit together. Consider phrasing for titles and text. With overall themes in hand, the leaflet planner can develop those into phrases or slogans that might lead in leaflet text.
CREATE YOUR LAYOUT
Do a rough layout. The rough layout for a leaflet is usually a sketch that will show where text and images will be positioned on the leaflet, how big the size of each text portion will be, and how much of the leaflet will be dedicated to each separate part or idea. This rough draft will show how much room is available and how it can be allocated.
Design leaflets are usually easiest done digitally. Digital word processor or print shop programs, such as MS Word, are common software solutions for creating leaflets. Many printing companies also provide online software. Look at your software and understand how the digital setup will translate to the printed page, especially if you plan to fold the leaflet. Do a print preview. A page layout or print preview option helps to see how the leaflet will look when it is printed. Make any needed edits, then print out a few copies and observe how they are actually printed on the page. Practice folding the leaflet and make sure that it is correct before printing hundreds of copies for distribution. Correct any errors as needed, and through trial and error, an attractive document should emerge.
When distributing your leaflets, don’t wait for people to approach you. Walk up to them, and with a friendly smile, hand them a leaflet accompanied by a positive comment like, “Have you received one of these yet?” Make eye contact and never be pushy. Simple eye contact will help you get their attention.
Be prepared for questions! Know at least three facts from the leaflet that you’re passing out and know more info that isn’t included in the leaflet.
Don’t waste time arguing. Say politely, “I think that if you read this material, you might change your mind.” Then smile, hand them a leaflet, and turn away.
You want people to take your message seriously. People will judge you by the way you look, so look clean and professional.
Hold the flyer so the title can be clearly seen by passersby.
Take people's e-mail addresses if they seem interested, but don't get caught up in a conversation that distracts you from your job.
Try to get someone else to leaflet with you, especially in potentially hostile territory.
It is illegal to drop leaflets in mailboxes, although you can put them through a letter slot in a door or leave them in door handles or on the doorstep.
If you are planning to solicit contributions, check local and state regulations.
Don’t leave a mess! Pick up discarded leaflets before you leave the area.
You may also want to post leaflets on bulletin boards in public areas such as libraries, veterinary offices, cat and dog supply stores, supermarkets, laundromats and apartment buildings. Remember to ask permission from the owner of the area before posting a leaflet to make sure that it stays posted. Some places will even allow you to leave a stack of leaflets.
A great way to reach a large number of people is to setup an information table in a busy area of town. Choose a spot with a lot of pedestrian traffic where people will see you. Find out where other groups in your community setup tables, and get a list of festivals or fairs from the Chamber of Commerce, Department of Parks and Recreation, or Tourist Department.
Once you've chosen a good location for a table, call the mayor's office or police station to learn about regulations you need to follow. Here are some questions to ask:
- Do I need a permit? Permits are usually easy to apply for, although they may take two or three weeks to process.
- How often can I use this spot?
- Are there restrictions on the type of equipment that can be set up?
- Are there any regulations on selling items such as buttons and bumper stickers at a table? If so, you can ask for donations instead of charging for the merchandise.
- Ask for several copies of the application form to save for future use.
Here's what you need to set up your table:
- one or two card tables or a folding display table
- folding chair
- a plain table cloth to cover the table, long enough to reach the ground
- a donation can
- signup sheets (so you can contact activists for future events)
- paperweights - small but heavy
Arrange your table neatly and attractively. Remove rubber bands from pamphlets so people can pick them up easily. Keep an eye on your donation can - don't let someone walk off with it. Leave a five-dollar bill and some change in the can to encourage people's generosity!
If visitors to your table seem interested, ask them to leave their e-mail address or join your social networking site. Encourage them to help with your cause. Don't spend so much time with one person that you miss contact with others who may be interested. Be especially sure not to waste time and attention on someone who disagrees with you; you may alienate people who overhear the argument. Instead, clarify your position briefly, express regret at your disagreement, and turn to someone else as quickly as possible. You may feel as if you're "backing down," but arguing at a table is a waste of time and can cause you to miss potential supporters.
Above all, remember to smile, be friendly, and be patient. You, too, were once unaware of animal and environmental issues. Let others know that your background is much like theirs, but that once you learned about animal suffering and the state of the environment you decided to take action. Lifestyles and attitudes are easy to change - you're living proof! And you can show others how to be more compassionate, too!