Advice on Leafleting
Okay, you already understand the basic principles of leafleting. You know that you’ll usually reach the most people by leafleting on a narrow walkway with a lot of foot traffic or at the top of a subway escalator. You know you’ll be loud, assertive, and confident, and tell folks “Info to help animals!” But you want more. You want to be all that you can be. You want to be the Serena Williams of leafleting!
Here are some advanced tips for animal advocates who want to take their leafleting game to the next level.
When to leaflet
For leafleting colleges, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. works best because these are high traffic times. If you have only one or two hours to spare, leaflet around lunchtime. Because class changes generate the most traffic flow, Mondays and Wednesdays are sometimes better than other days of the week (they usually have shorter classes and, therefore, more class changes). Fridays are usually the least-effective days because a lot of students avoid Friday classes.
For leafleting downtown areas, the best time will vary depending on the location. In business districts, it’s best to leaflet from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., during the lunch hour, and between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. — on weekdays, of course. Leafleting by subway or train stations between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. is a great way to reach a lot of people heading home for the day (and who may appreciate something to read while waiting and riding). On the weekends, leaflet in areas with lots of outdoor shopping or tourist attractions — between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. tends to work best for these spots.
Leafleting is permitted on virtually all public sidewalks around the country. Occasionally, you may run into a business owner who thinks they own the sidewalk in front of their establishment. They don’t. If the public has the right to walk there, you have the right to leaflet there. There are very few cases in which a permit is actually required to leaflet.
Some colleges allow leafleting, while others do not. Public universities are supposed to allow it according to federal court decisions, and most, but not all, do. Don’t worry, though — in the worst case scenario, campus security will simply tell you you’re not allowed to pass out leaflets and you’ll have to stop. For schools that have public sidewalks cutting through or alongside campus, you can simply leaflet on the sidewalk without problem.
Making the handoff
Okay, so you’ve found a narrow walkway, and you’re standing in the middle of it ready to hand out your first leaflet. Now what? Stand almost directly in front of the person you want to hand a booklet. Extend your arm fully and hold the booklet directly in front of their torso as if you are sure they are going to take it. Smile, tilt your head, and speak in a loud, confident voice. As soon as they have passed, do the same for the next person.
Everyone is nervous their first time — don’t sweat it! After a little while, you’ll get in the groove. If you don’t feel confident, just smile, act confidently, and speak louder than normal — soon you will feel more confident!
Sometimes a person will want to argue with you or talk to you about an unrelated issue. Keep in mind that the goal of leafleting is to give booklets to as many people as possible, so sometimes you’ll have to tell the person “Sorry, but I don’t have much time, and I have to get back to leafleting.” On the other hand, if someone has legitimate questions about factory farm issues and compassionate eating, it’s worth taking a few minutes to talk to them.
Sometimes someone will toss the leaflet on the ground or say something like “Meat tastes good!” Play it cool. If you say something nasty, it will only make you (and animal advocates in general) look bad to them and to any other people listening. Plus, some people who initially say something negative will later be shocked at what they read and become interested in making a change in their diet. When someone turns you down or says something mean as they pass you by, just ignore them or give a polite response such as “Thanks anyway!”
You’ve never seen moves like these at the club.
• The Lean. If you extend your hand all the way, lean your shoulder forward, and bend at the waist a bit toward the student, they’re more likely to take the booklet. You’re giving so much of yourself to try to reach this person; they’d feel bad leaving you hanging. The lean will increase your take rate, especially if you’re holding the booklet in front of their stomach.
• The Head Tilt. Tilt your head while offering the booklet, and give each passerby a big smile. We don’t know why this works; maybe it’s because you look more endearing, like an infant. Or maybe it’s just a sign of friendliness. In either case, try the head tilt and see if it works for you. Feel free to be a switch hitter; otherwise, you might get a neck cramp by day’s end!
• The Hi. Say “hi” or “what’s up?” to an approaching person and wait for them to say “hello” back. Now that you two are best friends, offer them a booklet. Saying hello breaks the ice and makes you a regular human being in their eyes, as opposed to just some person who wants to give them a booklet. Variations on the “hi” include positive comments on someone’s outfit, t-shirt slogan, or other attributes.
• The Gate. If you’re leafleting with a friend, stand across from one another on either side of one flow of foot traffic. It’s hard for people to say no when they feel outnumbered! Working with a friend also makes leafleting more fun, and makes it easier to leaflet pairs or groups of people who are walking by.
• The Stop and Start. People often decide whether to take a brochure based on whether the person in front of them took a brochure. If you get a string of individuals who turn you down, stop leafleting, wait about fifteen seconds, and then start back up again.
What to wear
If it’s cold out, be sure to wear plenty of layers. You can always take them off if you get too hot. If you’re leafleting in the extreme cold or extreme heat, take some breaks inside a nearby building to warm up or cool down. You’ll also want to wear clothing that helps you blend in with your audience. When leafleting on a college campus, dress like a college student. When leafleting a business district, dress in business clothing. By looking more like your audience, you will be more effective in getting them to take a booklet and be interested in your message.
It’s a numbers game
Don’t worry about the fact that some people will turn you down or throw their booklet in the trash can. Consider yourself a salesperson. Sure, some people are going to say no, and most people won’t change right away, but that’s not important. What’s important is that a couple people will start making compassionate choices after getting a booklet from you that day, and that will spare hundreds of animals. And hundreds of other people will now have a more positive view of compassionate living, and perhaps be influenced by the next person to offer them a booklet or talk with them about factory farming.
That’s it! You are now ready to rock-and-roll. Order some booklets and start saving farm animals! For large scale, special orders please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Shipping fees will apply.