16 Feb

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Case Study

Last week was Social Media Week. In 9 cities across the world, social media enthusiasts, gurus, ninjas and the like gathered to discuss some trending topics in the real-world instead of online. Whether you attended lectures via livestream webcasts or in person, each event provided the audience with valuable insights into current industry trends. Throughout this week I hope to recap a few of the specific talks I was able to fit into my personal schedule.

I look forward to providing my readers who were unable to attend a look into what was discussed and others, who were fortunate enough to be present, my perspective and takeaways from the panels. I hope you enjoy and encourage your feedback in the comments section below.

The second day of Social Media Week in New York City meant Comedy Central would be hosting a moderated discussion on the recent social media phenomenon that resulted in a staggering 200,000 (maybe even 250,000) rally in Washington D.C. to restore sanity and/or fear. The lecture, Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Case Study, was held at Hearst Tower: a brilliant building located just south of Columbus Circle that offers spectacular views of Central Park and the Hudson River.

Who cares about the scenery I enjoyed though! I was there to learn from two of the smartest digital marketers in the business. Both had successfully engaged over 2 million people worldwide to congregate around their televisions and computers for… Well, I am not quite sure of the purpose!


  • Craig Minassian, Rally Producer and President of Minassian Media


  • Steve Grimes, SVP Comedy Central Digital
  • Don Steele, VP Digital Marketing, MTVN Entertainment

On the evening of September 16th, 2010, The Daily Show host, John Stewart, announced that there was to be a rally in Washington D.C. No one, not even the shows producers had known of Stewart’s plan. When Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report, jumped on the bandwagon, Comedy Central’s producers knew they had to take action. A mere 6 weeks till a live event meant they had their work cut out for them.

October 30th was around the corner and besides the logistics of preparing Washington D.C. for a rally, Grimes and Steele had a few primary objectives of their own:

  • Drive Attendance
  • Engage the Online Audience
  • Secure Partners

It is the third objective that I would like to focus on: partnerships. As the panelists clearly stated, “Partnerships are essential to fill in business gaps. They enable you to take tasks off of your plate and focus on the things you are capable of completing.” I personally feel that many entrepreneurs don’t realize they need help.

You cannot do everything yourself! You aren’t an expert in every subject! Don’t be scared to ask for help!

And help is exactly what Grimes and Steele received. For example, the Apple App store typically takes 4 weeks to approve and the team only had 6 weeks – a strategic partnership was able to gently accelerate this process. Furthermore, partnerships with Foursquare, Facebook, Flickr and many other online networks enabled mass communication with the event attendees – both on and offline.

It is, without a doubt, social media tools and modern communication technology that enabled the event producers to communicate with everyone involved. From newsletters received via email, updates sent via SMS texts and last minute notifications sent via Twitter, attendees were kept apprised of everything from where the porta-potties were located to where promotional t-shirts were being sold.

So, in conclusion, I took away some pretty useful lessons from this lecture:

  • Communicate with our customers like you would your business partner because they need-to-know.
  • Establish strategic partnerships to achieve success. It will reduce your workload and allow you to utilize other people’s expertise.

Check out over 350 signs seen at the actual rally here!