Flyering Guide

Find existing materials in Flyers


Why Flyering?

  • The goal of flyering is to create and grow a local PauseAI community
  • To accomplish that, the goal of flyering should be to announce a meeting or mass gathering, for everyone who is interested to come and learn about PauseAI and what they can do

Flyer contents

  • Existing flyers can be edited to be more specific to your purpose
  • Add the time and place of your meeting to the flyer
  • Flyers should have clear calls to action
    • (Learn what YOU can do!”, “Find out how YOU can help!”, “YOU can make a difference!”, “Get involved!“)

Flyer printing

There are many, many options for printing flyers, depending on budget constraints and quality requirements. Double-sided full-color printing can be pricey (on the order of $1 per page).

  • 48 Hour Print
    is avg-to-inexpensive in cost, and high quality
  • Bizay
    is extremely inexpensive, for “pretty okay” quality (some customers report significant delivery delays and other issues; Nathan in Arizona did not experience these issues and was very satisfied with the result)
  • Check with your local print shop and compare prices to online stores
  • If you need a dirt-cheap option, consider printing single-sided flyers for the lowest print cost in your area
  • Have all your materials printed well in advance

Flyering setup

  • Even for a brief one-time outing, it’s a good idea to have at least 100 flyers. Better too many than too few!
  • It can be very helpful to have an A-frame sign at your feet.
    • It gives those who read it a chance to choose to engage you on their own
    • It can make people think, even if they haven’t engaged with you
    • See PauseAI Flyering Sign (3x4).pdf
  • If you have two or more volunteers, you can split up the flyering effort to cover more area, or you can set up a table (where permitted)
  • It’s useful to have pre-generated and labeled QR codes in an album on your phone or in a printed trapper for any digital resources you might want to point people to during conversations (e.g. websites, articles, papers, podcasts, videos).
  • Plan to stay out for a least a couple hours
    • It can take time to find your feet
    • If you get on a roll, and if you have the time and the energy, you might as well keep going!

Tips and Lessons Learned

You can do this!

Here’s a story from Nathan Metzger:

“I’m not the activist type. I’m an introvert with high social anxiety (and I might be a little autistic). Thinking about engaging people on the street made me so nervous I felt physically ill. There are few things I was more afraid of than embarrassing myself in public, but the literal end of the world is one of those things. So, I put that fear to my back, and I let it push me forward. I did it anyway — I did it scared. I ordered all the supplies, planned a day and a place, and went alone. It took about an hour for me to feel like I knew what I was doing. After I had some positive and negative interactions, I noticed I was still alive, I stopped feeling scared, and against all expectations, I started having fun.”

Location Matters

  1. Public University campuses are ideal locations:
    • They have areas that are open to the public, where solicitation is allowed so long as the local laws and the campus’s rules of etiquette are followed
    • They are full of curious, energetic people who may have time on their hands
    • They can be predictably busy at specific times of day in specific locations
    • Trying to target a specific subset of students isn’t necessary at all, since all kinds of people share these concerns
  2. Outdoor malls / markets / plazas?
  3. Busy sidewalks?
  4. Public parks?
  • Always check your local laws and ordinances
    • When flyering, you can and should be effective without getting negative attention from security or police
    • Your specific location may have additional rules and restrictions
      • If any special permissions are needed, try to get approval well in advance.
  • When you arrive, try to strike a balance between optimizing your location and actually doing the flyering.
    • It is a good idea to look around to see where the high traffic is; you might double the number of flyers you’re handing out by moving to a slightly better spot
    • However, traffic patterns can ebb and flow. If the grass keeps looking greener on the other side and you move around every few minutes, you might have less time for actually handing out flyers.
  • And of course: Be safe!

How to engage passersby

Including overly-detailed instructions on how to behave like a person, for those of us who don’t automatically know how!

(The information here is highly detailed, in case some of it is helpful to you. However, it is important to emphasize that “just doing it” is the best policy! It will be okay, and you will learn a lot of useful things quickly.)

  1. Offer flyers to anyone who is not buried in their phone or in a conversation
    • For those who look busy, some truly are busy and some are trying to avoid you; don’t waste your energy!
  2. Be confident, friendly, and non-threatening
  3. Look directly at someone, ask them if they want a flyer or if you can give them one, and hold the flyer out toward them
  4. “Can I get you a flyer?” is usually a better phrase than “Can I give you a flyer?”
    • Psychologically, this may make them feel like you’re doing them a favor (and hey, maybe you are!)
  5. However, when speaking to someone who appears to be very agreeable / nice / sweet:
    • “Can I give you a flyer?” might be better, in the sense of asking for permission
    • It’s good to speak a little softer and be a little more physically hesitant / sheepish / gentle while asking for permission
    • Remember, to others, you are a stranger with an unknown agenda, and some people are more nervous to speak to you than you are to them!
  6. If someone is approaching and makes eye contact when they are less than 5 seconds away, then keep eye contact with them until they are within flyer-offering distance
    • If you look away, that lowers your apparent interest in them and they likewise won’t be interested in you; on the other hand, don’t just stare at people
  7. Physical proximity matters; it’s best to just ignore people who are farther away (>20ft or 6m) if you’re in a wide space
    • You can’t physically reach them, and they might be intentionally avoiding you anyway; there are more fish in the sea!
  8. Don’t get in the way of passersby; you don’t need to do that to get the attention of the people you are trying to reach
  9. Find a balance between having conversations and handing out more flyers
    • Having positive conversations can be very high-value
    • If an interaction is going nowhere or is negative, it’s best to politely disengage and hand out more flyers
  10. Aim to inform, not to persuade
    • Don’t necessarily set out to change minds; many people would be concerned if they knew what you know, and many people are already concerned but don’t know what to do about it. Go find your people!
    • People tend to be curious when they hear that there is something that might affect them that they don’t know about
  11. Engage with empathy
    • Many people have worries about AI that aren’t the same as your own. Don’t try to change what they’re worried about. Instead, acknowledge their concerns and invite them into the broad umbrella of PauseAI: people who want to put a pause on AI and its risks.
    • Try not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Use “Yes And.” If they have real concerns about AI that seem too mild to you or seem to be focused on the wrong things, don’t communicate that they are wrong; communicate that they are more right than they know.

Some things to say

To get attention:
  1. “Can I get you a flyer?”
  2. “Do you want to know more about the dangers of AI?”
When asked what this is all about:
  1. “Trying to close the gap between what the experts say about AI and what most people know” (this is a very high-value line)
  2. “Maybe we shouldn’t build powerful AI systems that we don’t know how to control yet”
  3. “A global treaty/moratorium on the largest general-purpose AI training runs”
  4. “We are a grassroots movement concerned about what experts are saying about the risks of AI”
  • Note that arguments from authority carry weight
  • Mentioning X-risk right at the start can be a turn-off
  • In general, it’s good to have thought through what kinds of conversations you want to have, and have ready answers for most relevant things people might ask

How people respond

  1. Most people who would happily accept a flyer won’t ask for one
  2. A small subset of people do engage directly and ask for a flyer or start a conversation
  3. More people refuse a flyer than accept one, and that is perfectly okay
    • In a space with a lot of people, the law of large numbers works for you
  4. Some people might say they agree with you, but still not want a flyer (and that is okay)
  5. In most places around the world, basically everyone is extremely polite!
    • (You may not have the same experience if you are in an area that is culturally known for being impolite.)
  6. The vast majority of interactions are positive rather than negative
  7. Of the people who stop to talk to you, many of them are likely to automatically treat you as if you know what you’re talking about
    • And (hopefully) you do! You are taking time out of your day to communicate something to them that you think is important, and some people recognize that.
  8. When using a sign, some percentage of people self-sort and avoid you if they are not interested, which can save you some energy!

Relevant discussions in the PauseAI Discord

See also

Flyering in Marseille

from Maxime F