Running an Information Stand
This is the first in a series of Pirate Times articles aimed at helping Pirates get the message to people in their community – even when they are short of funds.
An information stand can be a very effective way to let people know that the Pirate Party exists and is active in their area. It can also be a way to recruit new members to the party, get signatures for a petition or promote a candidate for an election. You don’t need much to run a successful stand, just some time, some enthusiasm and the following. It can be inside or outside but we will concentrate on the outside version as the inside version is just the outside version without a sky.
Permission: Check with your local authorities about laws and by-laws and make sure you have any required permits to place an Information Stand on the site you want, if it is in a public place or the owner’s consent, if it is on private land. You want to meet the public and not the police.
A Good Site: You want a place where plenty of people will be passing by but not where you will be causing an obstruction. Also, choose a place where people will spend some time. Near a park or a market and during a street festival are both good examples. You should also be prepared to postpone the action if the weather is not conducive to people stopping and chatting for a while.
People: One person can do it but it is preferable to have more people – and more fun. Extroverts shine in this role but if you are a bit shy – try dressing up a bit. A pirate hat, an eye patch or simply a Pirate Party t-shirt will help you adopt a more outgoing persona, even if it’s just for the day. Make sure all participants know when and where to be well in advance.
Furniture: This is what makes an information stand different from a leafleting action. The minimum is a table. A folding table will do fine and you can even make one from cardboard boxes – see this Instructables.com for example. Better still is either a garden umbrella or pavilion in your party’s colour. Just make sure you have a way to anchor them against any wind – chasing a pavilion that’s trying to use the street as a runway may be fun for the public to watch but not really for the one chasing it.
Information: That is what your are there for. Get leaflets et cetera from your party’s head office or print them yourself (we will do a separate article on leaflets). A card or pamphlet that has contact details for your local and national Party.
Have some paper weights handy so that gusts of wind don’t start distributing them for you. Know your party’s manifesto and stand ready to discuss it. Know what is relevant to your local population and be able to listen and talk about it even if your party does not have a position – tell people if they want the Pirates to take a position on something then they can join and work to get it done.
Attention Getters: A large poster is the minimum, people need to know who you are and use the logo – a hand made one is fine. Better still are flags and, if you have a pavilion, banners. A pavement poster board is also a good way to get people to notice you. Other big attention getters are give-aways. Coffee can be done fairly cheaply. Food as well, if laws allow and your budget can accommodate it. A cheaper alternative yet is candy, and while some will grab it and move on without a second look, they might get a more positive view of your party. Children love to get gifts and parents are happy to have their kids being entertained. Colourful folded paper “pirate” boats, and balloon swords, parrots and hats are things that you can use to get into a conversation with parents and grandparents (this will also be the subject of a later article).
Clean up: Be responsible citizens and clean up afterwards. Check around for discarded leaflets and any other litter that came from your stand. It’s impossible to police over your give-aways, and there will always be some who take leaflets and throw them on the ground. Try to pick up everything you find, or future bypassers will get a negative impression of the party.
A Debriefing Meeting: Hold a post mortem. Get everyone who took part to give their impressions and ideas about what went well and what didn’t and how you can improve for the next one. Write a report and share it on your mailing list, wiki or website so that others can benefit from your experiences.
If you have been involved with the organising or participated in an information stand action and have ideas to contribute, please tell us in the comments section below.
Featured Image: CC BY-NC Jing Zhou