Preparing the publicity is an important part of organising an event like a craft fair, concert, or careers fair. Even when planning a wedding you need to bear similar things in mind.
Where do you need to publicise the event?
If it’s a wedding, then the invitations, obviously, have to have the information. See my blog posts for Pasties and Petticoats for lots of helpful hints and tips for getting your wedding invitations right.
With events for the general public, then you need to think a little more carefully – see below.
Who, precisely, do you want to come?
“Everyone” isn’t a good enough answer!
Are your target audience holiday-makers, older people, teens, holiday-cottage-owners, people who live in your village, cyclists…?
And where will they see the information about the event you’re organising?
Social media, local paper, signs in the village, signs along the cyclepath, posters in the local ice-cream shop…
Think laterally, think like the people you’re trying to attract, and then place your information where they’ll find it. And promoting JUST electronically isn’t the best idea. In almost all cases it’s not safe to assume all your target audience are online. A physical event needs physical advertising, some signage on the day at the very least.
What do you need to tell people?
Where – and include a postcode for satnavs, or a map. On a large poster you may only have space for a few words so ‘Portreath Village Hall’ is enough.
When – day, date, month and time. If you are canny, and want to reuse your banner next time round, go for ‘first Monday every month’!
What – what is your event. Sounds obvious, but you need to state it clearly and succinctly. And if it’s a craft fair with refreshments, say that. You’ll get the husbands who just want a cuppa while their wives browse, which is more money for you, to be really mercenary about it!
Who – who is welcome to come. Is it open to the public, or members only? Will older people, or teenagers, or people interested in knitting be most interested? Do you have facilities to entertain children?
Who are you – who is organising the event?
Contact for more information – can people find out more on your website, Facebook, local papers, phone number, or buy tickets from the post office?
When do you need to publicise it?
You need to be out there enough before the event that people won’t say, ‘oh, June, that’s ages away’ and forget about it. But you don’t need your first foray into publicity to be, ‘tomorrow there’s this thing’. People will have filled up their day tomorrow already, and no-one will be able to come. You need to aim for somewhere in between. And remember, if you’re going into the local papers, they’ll need several weeks’ notice.
For social media you need to be posting something frequently. The, ‘this is happening’ notification, followed by, ‘you can get your tickets here’, then ‘the stars of the show are x, y and z’. Then reminders, and maybe a countdown, ‘just one week to go until… The cast are polishing their dance routines and the costumes look fabulous.’
Of course, on the day you’ll want road signs, road-side posters, balloons, arrows and everything you can think of to draw walk-ins and help those who intended to come to find you.
If you have exhibitors, musicians, caterers, or some other brand of ‘crew’ working at your event, you’ll need to make sure they’re informed as well. They’ll need different info to your punters – they’ll potentially want to know about electricity, acoustics, changing rooms, fridge space, when they can arrive to set up, having items delivered to the venue by their suppliers, vehicular access – all manner of questions. You may need to provide an FAQ sheet, especially if you’re organising a regular event, or you have dozens of stall-holders all asking the same things.
Helping your crew to publicise your event will help more people hear about it. Providing a hashtag or a Facebook event that people can invite others to attend, and giving out posters that others can distribute, are great ways of spreading the publicity to a wider audience, and getting your crew involved as well.
And if you’re raising money for a charity, they might well have a publicity team who will be able to supply branded t-shirts, posters, etc.
After an event, when you’ve packed up the chairs and tables, washed up the mugs, taken the bunting down and returned all the lost property, you’d probably like nothing more than a quiet corner and your beverage of choice.
However, you do need to remember to do some post-event publicity too. Writing something to thank those involved and say how well it all went, via the channels you previously employed, is always nice. Letting people know how much money you raised is polite, arguably essential. Telling people your plans for the next one will help with repeat customers.
And make a note for yourself of things you’d do different next time!