Since this past summer, I’ve been working out with an awesome group of humans as part of a free fitness movement called November Project.  It went from two guys crushing stairs at Harvard Stadium in the wee hours of the morning to 3,934 people joining in across 16 cities in two countries.  A small tribe in Boston inspired tribes to grow in fifteen other cities across the US and in Canada.

Here are four lessons we can learn about grassroots PR from November Project’s success:

  1. Harness word of mouth and channel it on social media. Word of mouth was the original form of grassroots PR and social media takes it to a whole new level. November Project is blogging and on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and has spinoff handles for each city.  More importantly, the tribe leaders in each city use their own personal handles to promote November Project, and so do all of the members.
  2. Look for unconventional opportunities to spread the word. This weekend was the Harvard-Yale football game at Harvard Stadium, the site of our weekly Wednesday morning workout.  Two members of the Boston tribe showed up to the stadium really early in the morning to stake out some prime real estate right behind the announcers’ desk so that they would be on TV during the ESPN broadcast, waving a November Project sign.
  3. Have a recognizable logo, hashtag or tag line. November Project members proudly wear “#grassrootsgear” whenever they can, which is clothing that has had the November Project logo spray painted across the chest.  This reinforces the community feel, as it is instantly recognizable by fellow tribe members.  It also encourages people who don’t know about it but are seeing it everywhere to ask about it.
  4. Stay true to your mission when you start attracting media attention. November Project is notorious for refusing to let a reporter do an interview without participating in the workout.  The attention is great, but the leaders refuse to compromise the integrity of the movement for the sake of some press.  At the end of the day, no matter how much media attention we get, it’s still about racing everything and recruiting everyone and giving out giant bear hugs.