As a new VFW, we are learning how to best promote an event. Events can include monthly meetings, Founders Day Receptions, or public fundraisers.
It used to be you made up flyers, wrote a press release, and contacted the local paper. Additionally you could mail out invitations, call people up, and spread the news by word-of-mouth.
Now the paradigm has greatly shifted from analog to digital means of promotion. There is still a place for creating an event flyer; however, that flyer is more likely to be viewed as a JPEG online than on a street-corner community bulletin board.
This shift has greatly impacted the “marketing mix,” a concept used to describe the essential elements of a marketing strategy: product, price, promotion, and place. Considering these four Ps helps define and identify a market.
Focusing on promotion, it covers all the methods an organization uses to attract customers and let people know of the existence of a product, service, or event. Some methods include flyers, advertising, and publicizing using social media.
Additionally, there are arguably four linked concepts associated with promotion: paid/publicity; product/promo. In other words (or in terms used in marketing bands): paid/free; merch/swag. While ignoring one of these four concepts in a promotional plan puts it in peril, this post will focus on publicity.
Publicity is the “notice or attention given to someone or something by the media” (Oxford Dictionaries). This used to mean an editor at the local newspaper. Now “media” can reference an algorithm on a social media page. Confusing.
So, what is the best way to publicize your event? Good question.
Working through this, the marketer has to consider the audience (market) first. Is it a public event or a monthly membership meeting just for veterans? For public event publicity the message has to reach the intended market. Determining who they are will greatly decide where you want to devote resources. Meet customers where they are. If they are not on MySpace, don’t spend resources there.
In no order, here are some ideas:
- physical flyers
- social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- local newspaper
- local radio/TV/cable
- the venue
- community page/government page
From those ideas, we can conduct some quick market research. I used a Google search of “North Haven Fair” for data:
- zip06.com (Shore Publishing)
Website: NorthHaven-fair, ctvisit, CTAGfairs, visitnewhaven,
Social: FB, Yelp, Twitter, YouTube
Media: Register, Patch, WTNH, CBS, CTPost, Courant, Journal, Zip06
Listings: Eventcrazy, eventbrite, Meetup
From this research, I can see some tiers and possible sequential order for generating free publicity:
- Announcement/Press Release on Website [news]
- Event Listing/Tickets (Eventbrite…) [event]
- Focused Media (CT, fair, NH) [event]
- Social Media (FB, Twitter, Yelp) [event]
- Traditional Media (Register, TV, Patch…) [event]
So, what is the best way to publicize your event? Here is a possible workflow:
- Make a flyer (provides visuals and focus on 5Ws and 1H)
- Write an announcement press release and post on website
- Use Eventbrite as event page and reference website for more information
- Post to social media (Eventbrite will post to FB and Twitter; FB offers EB ticket link)
- Post to focused media (email, form)
- Post to traditional media (email, form)
Because flyers and ad buys cost money, they fall under the “paid” category but are also an important part of the promotion mix. This workflow is sequential in that the news is published first, the event page can reference the news page, and social, focused, and traditional media can reference ONE event page. By the time an email is hitting a human being who may be typesetting for print or broadcast, the kinks have been worked out and the message is focused.