Client: Reason Rally 2016

How do you get society to take a marginalized demographic seriously?

Frame the message in way that appeals to a wide audience.

That’s what Red Rooster Group did to promote Reason Rally 2016 at the Lincoln Memorial, the largest secular humanist and atheist gathering in the United States, produced by a coalition of 22 organizations.

THE CHALLENGE: Shifting the Tone

The first Reason Rally in 2012 had been an occasion for people to celebrate their non-theism. It had generated mostly negative headlines in mainstream press about “godless” people. The goals for Reason Rally 2016 were to galvanize more people — not just atheists — to the cause of separation of church and state, and to remove the stigma associated with not believing in god.

THE ISSUE: The Unaffiliated Are on the Rise

Non-believers are on the rise, and facts — not faith — are becoming more important to voters. A 2015 Gallup Poll found that among those between the ages of 18 and 24, 31% claim no religious affiliation. In the 45-49 age group, 16% are unaffiliated. A Pew study found that almost half of American adults do not care if a presidential candidate is an atheist. We developed the PR campaign to bring these facts to the attention of the media and elected officials.

THE SOLUTION: Framing the Message in a Positive Way

Red Rooster Group came up with the theme “Speak Up for Reason!” and positioned the rally as a “Voter Block Party” to emphasize the political clout of this demographic.

A Robust Public Relations Campaign

  • Website showcasing the inclusive message, roster of speakers, rally schedule, activities such as Advocacy Day, and DC trip planning information.
  • News releases showcasing the growth of the unaffiliated/atheist population in the U.S. as well as the important of separation of church and state.
  • Social media messages tying into current events.
  • Weekly conference calls made sure that everyone was on message for the next week.
  • Articles and blogs for coalition members to use in their publications.
  • Digital advertising for social media and websites.
  • Outdoor advertising in Washington, DC.

THE RESULT: A Positive Change in Coverage

Reason Rally 2016 was covered by major media as a gathering of voters, instead of “godless” people. The message that secular voters are a growing, reasonable segment of the population was reinforced by all media coverage. After the event, the message continued as bloggers opposed to non-theism discussed how to deal with the growing number of secular Americans.

The coverage changed from the dismissive Fox News report on the 2012 Rally, Why the Reason Rally Is Unreasonable to Fox’s  on-message report in 2016 and on-site coverage by CNN, resulting in a positive news coverage and successful reframing of the message about this demographic.

Red Rooster Group was supported by Sayles & Winnikoff Communications for media outreach and speaker coordination services.

“We looked at quite a few PR firms for Reason Rally 2016, but Red Rooster Group went far beyond the others in learning about our organization, the larger community we work within, and our project. They set a strategy for the communications that not only appealed to our own community, but engendered support from allies and even those with whom we haven’t typically seen eye-to-eye. Their website redesign was efficient and beautiful, while still being easy for my staff to use. They helped us get unprecedented media coverage with a consistent, positive message. All this was made even better due to their staff’s fun, engaged, and friendly working relationship.”

— Lyz Liddell, Executive Director

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