Here’s my armchair quarterback assessment of the day before yesterday’s “Senior Rally Day” at the State Capitol in California. For the record, these notes could apply to all senior rally days of past.
More than 500 people attended the gathering. This is remarkable in itself considering organizers pulled the event together in a mere six weeks, on a shoestring budget.
What worked well?
- Securing more than a dozen influential legislators and authorities to make brief, sincere and relevant comments was a coup.
- The huge tent to shade attendees from the harsh mid-day Sacramento sun was brilliant.
What needs work?
- Watch the aggressive comments. They can backfire. “Seniors deserve …” “We want …” “We demand …” tend to position seniors as a “special interest group,” as “us against them.” This is counter-intuitive if the objective is to create empathy. The message needs to be all-inclusive rather than competitive.
- Event organizers must covet mass media coverage, which will dramatically extend reach and credibility, by featuring current and more provocative
- The multi-generational aspects of aging issues should be accentuated by involving schoolchildren, grandkids and young adult caregivers.
- Speakers and materials need to propose solutions, not problems. Phrases like “healthy, purposeful longevity” offer encouragement rather than strike fear. (“Silver tsunami” implies that too many older adults will be a crisis!?)
- Energize attendees, passersby and Capitol insiders with anthem-style music: Katy Perry’s “Roar,” Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” U2’s “Beautiful Day” and The Beatles’ “Revolution.” (As for those orchestrated rally cries and chants, they only serve to annoy.)
I know. All great ideas eventually deteriorate into work (Through the nineties my firm, Greenbaum Public Relations, produced the state’s annual Earth Day Fair that attracted 50,000 people to the Capitol), which is why everyone who worked very long and hard to make this event happen deserves credit and gratitude.
Next year, let’s build on this success — with more resources, broader and more positive appeal, and even more impactful results.