Host a Public Witness Event
Interfaith vigils, press conferences, public actions all make a difference.
Steps to a successful public witness event:
- Coordinate a public witness event with faith leaders, immigrants’ rights groups, refugee resettlement agencies, immigrant leaders, community members, and if possible local elected leaders.
- Identify core leaders and speakers, including refugees to help plan and speak at the event.
- Consider inviting officials such as Representatives, Senators, City Council Members, the Mayor, etc.
- Be clear about your goals, what you want to accomplish, and how many people you hope will attend.
- Identify the best location for the vigil - somewhere central such as a symbolic memorial, state capitol, park or city hall.
- Apply for any permits needed for the location; reserve any equipment such as microphones, cameras, banners, candles, projectors; and make sure you can access electrical outlets.
- Choose a time of day best for attendance and media --for a press conference, the best times for media are between 10 AM and 1 PM. For a vigil, most live news reports take place between 5-7 PM.
- Promote the event through social media, public service announcements, flyers, websites, and congregation bulletins.
- Agree on messaging and talking points.
- Bring signs that are consistent with your messaging and agreed upon ahead of time.
- Assign specific talking points to each speaker and ensure they have time limits.
- Host a preparation call before the event to run through the agenda and talking points with speakers.
- Invite the media by issuing a media advisory 1-2 days before your event, and following up with a press release after the event.
- Invite participants to write and call the White House and Congress, and to sign up for further actions.
- If you are able to get a number of organizations together, you could hold a 24 or 48 hour vigil outside the office of your Senator or Representative, signing up each organization with 2 hour blocks of time.
SAMPLE MEDIA ADVISORY
Date of Event, Time, Location
As Refugee Arrivals Hit Historic Low, (Faith/ Human Rights Group) Ask: Where Are the Refugees?
(Vigil/Rally) (Name of Town)(To ask the Administration to Fulfil FY18 Refugee Admissions Goal
Your City Name, State Abbreviation – As the (City/Town Name) (Organization/Congregation) will host (event type). This administration has set the lowest refugee admissions goal in history - 45,000 - and is not even on track to meet half of that number. Faith leaders, refugee agencies and community partners ask the administration, “Where are the refugees?” They will be joined by XX (list other special guests, especially clergy or elected officials).
WHAT: Event type with faith and community leaders to welcome refugees
WHERE: Address of event
WHEN: Date and time of event
SPEAKERS: List of all speakers and their titles
DETAILS: Add event details such as security (if applicable), visuals (religious symbols, art pieces, etc.), and any other important event information.