Our first event at Kennesaw State University this semester was the most successful we’ve ever had. Over fifty people showed up on a Wednesday night to hear LEAP speaker Jay Fisher give a constitutional case against the drug war. By the end of the night, there were people standing in the back, sitting in the front, and all engaged in a great Q&A session. We had a large number of people sign up for email and call-sheets, we launched a new SSDP (Students for Sensible Drug Policy) chapter on campus, and we had high-quality conversation exposing people to libertarianism, the ideas of liberty, and YAL.
There are four main behaviors or decisions to which I credit the successful turnout:
1. We prepared in advance. We contacted LEAP (www.LEAP.cc) in December to schedule a speaker. We reserved the room before the first day of classes. We had a flyer produced in the first week of class. We had an advertising plan, a solid event plan, a Facebook page produced, and a committed ground crew for advertising long before the week of the event.
2. We put in the advertising ground-work. We had four different days with groups of 6+ people on campus, engaging people, and explaining the event. While word of mouth and social media both played a role, and they both brought people out, the boots-on-the-ground advertising was far more effective. We tabled for HOURS, and we built two sandwich-board signs to set out on campus. We distributed approximately 1,000 copies of our flyer; most of these went to people to whom we talked. We also put flyers on every board, wall, desk, or window worth seeing.
3. We held the event in the evening so it only conflicted with a single class period. The fewer class conflicts, the more people will be available.
4. We offered food! College students love food! We ordered 20 pizzas from Papa John’s, and had them delivered just as the Q&A session was beginning. Because we co-hosted the event, we were able to split the cost with College Libertarians of KSU.