Wherein we offer more strategical and tactical advice to the Tea Party.* HELP ME HELP THEM. So if you remember Glen Beck’s Restore Honor rally, one problem with it was the discrepancy over the number of people who were there. Republican candidate for US Representative Michele Bachmann claimed one million. Some, tens of thousands. Still others? Upwards of 600,000. An aerial study by Airphotoslive.com conducted that day of the event now sheds light on the real numbers:
90,000, give or take.
Before talking specifically about where Team Tea Party went wrong handling the numbers, understand that it’s indicative of their larger problem: a lack of a unified message and/or leadership. Yes, it’s a movement
I get that promoters need to hype numbers ahead of time to build interest, but is saying ‘there was a million people’ when clearly there wasn’t the kind of math they plan on addressing the lack of fiscal responsibility in Washington with? I hope not.
Instead, I would’ve suggested a different approach.
First off, nobody speaks, not until they have some semblance of the numbers. Then, combine the total number of views for the day across all media platforms and turn it into a positive—not a question mark. As I watched Beck’s I Have A Stream event on Facebook, the highwater mark for views was around 130,000, give or take. I thought, okay, not bad.
For its part, TV coverage suggested low, but decent viewership. If you then take the highwater marks for each of the respective networks covering the it, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC—Nielsen doesn’t report C-SPAN numbers—you could put the numbers conservatively around 2.3 million. Add in the Facebook stream and 90,000 attendees actually there, and you wouldn’t be wrong saying 2.5 million people watched this event. (If you want to add C-SPAN in, you could conservatively use MSNBC’s mark and add another 300K to the total figure.)
The message now becomes about saying almost three million people experienced this event, which is the opposite of questioning whether 100,000 showed up to it or not, let alone debating the accuracy of candidates trying to make the movement fit their own agenda. Makes a nice soundbite in the days and weeks that follow too!
I’m sure however, that they’ll figure this out by the time the next TP flashmob rolls around, say, the Beck and Palin shindig on 9/11?
(Update: A concerned citizen comments that the image from the linked article depicts a TP event earlier in the year and not that day, so using it here could be misleading. Better to use these Airphotoslive.com images. What’s misleading though is how crowd density can appear greater the higher the elevation or degree of angle, something the use of the grid image points out. Draw your own conclusions loyal readers.)
*Hey, I like a marketing challenge, what can I say?
**Because nobody ever sees what you write on Facebook, right?