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Promoting: If they don't know, they won't come.
by Larry Ward

Promoting events Organizers of even the most successful events cannot afford to sit back and hope that crowds will continue to show up year after year. The results of inaction could result in no crowd at all. To avoid this disaster, appoint a Publicity/Promotion committee and make certain that its members develop an effective promotional strategy early in the planning process.

Remember, you are not selling a product; you are selling the benefits of the product. The benefit you are selling is entertainment! A festival is essentially show business. Consider these benefits as part of the entertainment package when creating the image for your festival:

  • Excitement, fun, happiness
  • Relaxation
  • Social interaction
  • Prestige, ego satisfaction
  • Education
Members of the publicity committee need to be aware of the following concerns:
  1. Much of what is promoted - entertainment, for example - will be arranged by other committees. Therefore the publicity people must have a good working relationship with everybody helping with the festival.
  2. With so much to do, timing will be critical in many instances. Establish a timeline.
  3. Be sure local and regional people whom the media are likely to contact for what is going on know exact times, dates, and your media contact's name and telephone number.
  4. Supply the local tourism sector (motels, service stations, restaurants) with printed maps and schedules so they know times and directions to events and can pass that information on to their customers and guests.
  5. Media representatives are serious about deadlines. Make certain that press releases and other informational materials are in the hands of reporters on time.
  6. Don't be shy about calling in to or volunteering for local talk shows.
  7. This committee should evaluate the effectiveness of methods and ideas used and suggest changes as required.

For example, a company might incorporate your message in some of their billboard advertising or cosponsor radio or TV ads.

Here are some examples of promotional methods used by event organizers. Most of this promotion can be done at little or no cost. What's required are two things that money can't always buy - creativity and imagination.
  • Billboards
  • Marquees
  • Posters and Banners
  • Placemats in Local Restaurants
  • Brochures/Direct Mail
  • Public Service Announcements - Radio, Television, Newspapers
  • Print Media: Newspapers, Magazines
  • Electronic Media: Radio, Television, Local Cable TV Station
  • Calendar of Events
  • Inserts: Bank & Utilities Billings
  • Parades at Other Festivals
  • Chamber of Commerce Publications
  • Bus Signs
  • Speaker's Bureau: Presentations to Groups/Meetings
  • Travel Bureau: Seasonal Guides/Calendars of Events
  • Displays at DOT Welcome Centers
  • Employee Publications/Newsletters
  • Individual Promotional Items/Novelties
  • Bumper Stickers, Buttons, Mugs, etc.
  • Travel Writers
  • FAM (Familiarization) Tours
  • Logo Design
Brochure Design Tips
If your marketing strategy determines that brochures are an effective way to reach your target audience, then carefully design the best brochure possible.

First answer these three questions:
  1. What do you want the brochures to do? (Set your purposes and objectives.)
  2. Who is your audience?
  3. How will you reach your audience? (Decide on a distribution system.)
Points to Consider in Designing a Brochure
  • Keep it simple and uncluttered.
  • Have more open space than type.
  • Be different, if possible.
  • Full color is best but most expensive.
  • Build an image through pictures and factual information.
  • Remember your target audience.
  • Stick to one selling message.
  • The quality of your brochure refl ects the quality of your festival.
  • If using a brochure, always include a map with directions to your community and the location of events once the visitor arrives. Also, include how to get more information; a telephone number, mailing address and email address.
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Tip: A good way to stretch your advertising dollars is to get businesses or organizations to cosponsor your ads.
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Tips for Preparing a Media Release

Only one person from your organization should be in contact with the news media. This avoids confl icting reports and confusion. Your media contact person must be someone who is easily reached by telephone during working hours.

The most important rule of journalism is accuracy. Write everything down and double check dates, times, names, and places.

Be brief and to the point. Stick to facts. Avoid fancy adjectives and unfamiliar terms. Use active verbs and avoid changing verbs into nouns.

Make sure there is some tie-in between the information in the release and the readers, listeners, or viewers. Make it of interest and important to them.

Type media releases, double-spaced on 8 1/2" x 11" white paper. Include the contact person's name, address, and telephone number. Also, include the current date and date of release or "For Immediate Release." If your story takes more than one page, write "More" at the bottom.

Get your story to the media as soon as possible. Know their deadlines and, whenever possible, let the media know about your event in advance.

Write news releases in inverted pyramid style. Indicate the most important news at the top, the lesser in the middle, and the insignificant at the bottom. This format allows the news editor to chop the release almost at any point and still retain the essential information.

Sample Media Release (printed on your festival's stationery which includes address).
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American Fudge Festival Fun Run
June 15, 2007
For Immediate Release
American Fudge Festival

Cocoaville: Runners of all ages are invited to participate in the Second Annual Fun Run on June 30. The starting time is 11:30 a.m. at the city park. This event is sponsored by the American Fudge Festival.

The race route is a combination of city streets, gravel roads, and grass covered park paths. The route includes moderate hills and crosses two bridges.

Medals will be awarded to the top three winners in each of the six divisions for both men and women. There is a $5 entry fee which entitles all entrants to receive a specially designed Fudge Festival T-shirt and a one pound box of fudge.

Registration forms are available at the city library, Bob's Sport Shop, and the Chamber booth.

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