Four business women – two Democrats and two Republicans – had a desire to provide an overwhelming show of nonpartisan support calling for then San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to resign.
At the time, more than a dozen women had courageously come forward with shocking details of how the long time politician had sexually harassed them. The business women dubbed the event the “Freedom from Filner” rally with the objective being to get hundreds of citizens to rally at the start of what was to be a very difficult recall process in less than a week.
The organizers had drive and ambition, but little in the way of direct experience with the media and gathering a political rally. They turned to Stalwart Communications. With five days to go, the agency pulled out all the stops in securing pre-event media on all the major radio, television and newspapers in town, generating no less than six feature stories. The main goals were two-fold; emphasize the need for citizens to come out to the rally in a strong display of displeasure in Mayor Filner’s actions while, at the same time, avoid being labeled as an organization with a biased, broad-based political agenda. Messaging and positioning needed to be tight; a “walking of a fine line” if you will.
The result was significant. Due to the advanced promotion, more than 500 San Diegans attended the rally. Every major San Diego media outlet as well as the Huffington Post, Washington Post, CBS Network, CNN, Al Jazeera America and Associated Press covered the event. As important were that the reports clearly made the distinction of the “Freedom from Filner” rally from other partisan movements occurring simultaneously. In all, the show of force has a direct and positive impact in the decision by Mayor Filner to resign days later.