During Thrive PR’s 10 years in business, we have promoted many different types and sizes of events — from conferences to galas to festivals, theater productions and more.
Because many organizations – especially nonprofits and trade associations – rely heavily on events to sustain their missions and operations, we wanted to pass along several tips for successfully promoting your next event:
1. Target Market. Our golden rule is: always start with your target market. Who is your target market, in terms of attendees? Sponsors? Those to help you spread the word? Think about who the decision makers are, not just who you want to attend the event.
2. Planning. Start planning, if possible, 6 to 12 months in advance. The sooner you have the who, what, where, when (and why) details nailed, the sooner you can start promoting your event. We have never heard a client lament about starting the planning process too soon.
3. Branding. Brand your event with a name and logo of its own — one that appeals to your target market and does not conflict with your organization’s brand in terms of color, style, message or other attributes. Make sure your event logo and materials are professionally designed and that the designer knows how to create materials for web use, professional printing and signage. Also, be consistent in your branding across all of your communication efforts.
4. Website. Make sure your event information is on your website and that it can be found easily. Update your site as new activities, speakers, sponsors, etc. are added, and make sure that the event information is easy to find. Don’t make it difficult for visitors to figure out how to attend, buy tickets or sponsor your event.
5. Social Media. Share event details on your social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram. Post topics could include: activities, photos, sponsors, special guests, speakers, agenda info., purchase info., media coverage, deadlines, new announcements, etc. Not all channels are necessarily appropriate for every organization or event. Think about your target market(s) and where they can be found and reached.
6. Email. Email communications/email blasts are a timely and cost-effective way to get the word out to your email database (which you should be mindful of growing all year, every year). I often see organizations fall into one of two categories related to email: they either hardly use this tool, for fear of being a nuisance to their database, OR they inundate people with emails. There is a fabulous place in the middle, and that’s where you should aim to be!
7. Media Relations. Write and send a press release about your event to appropriate media outlets. Be sure that your press release includes who, what, where, when, why and that it’s written using AP Style guidelines. Magazines and industry trade journals have a much longer lead-time than newspapers, TV or radio, so keep their deadlines in mind. Follow up with key media contacts (but not just to say – “hey, did you get my press release?”).
8. Printed Materials. Don’t forget about printed materials you’ll need before (and the day of) your event, such as invitations, marketing postcards, ads, signage, posters/fliers and the event program.
9. Sponsors. Recognize your sponsors (unless they wish to remain anonymous) in all of the above. And recognize them often. Include them, as appropriate, in your press release, on your website, in email blasts, in social media posts, on invitations, on marketing postcards, on posters/fliers, in ads, on signage at the event, in the event program and during the event (have the emcee publicly thank and recognize them). If you can get a media sponsor(s), invite a radio or TV sponsor to serve as your emcee or a magazine sponsor to distribute copies of their publication to your guests (note: it can be much more difficult for a new event or organization to obtain a media sponsor).
10. Photos. Get high-resolution photos taken during your event, preferably by a professional photographer. Post them, afterward, on social media channels and use them to promote next year’s event. Be sure to give photo credit to the photographer.
11. Post-Event Promotion. Your event promotion work is NOT over when the event is. Post photos on social media channels, add a few photos to your website, send thank you messages via email, send high-resolution photos to media outlets (if appropriate) and mail cards and/or letters to say thank you to sponsors, donors, speakers, volunteers and other contributors who made your event a success.
12. Pre-Planning for Next Year. Shortly after your event, hold a meeting to discuss what worked, what didn’t, ideas and steps to take the next year!
If you need help promoting your next event (yes, here’s the shameless plug), please contact us at Thrive PR to discuss how we can help! Contact Kelly Kirkendoll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972.330.2882.