The next time you publicize a local event, keep these 11 tips in mind.
I compiled them after doing publicity for my garden club’s annual Gardening Seminar, which we hosted on Saturday.
We generated mountains of publicity, from the local weekly newspaper to a nice story at Patch.com.
1. Start early!
I missed a deadline for a gardening newsletter because they work three months ahead. I knew I had to submit the calendar event for our local city magazine early but mistakenly assumed that deadlines for all the newsletters I was targeting were much shorter.
2. Pitch Businesses with Scrolling Signs
Those scrolling signs you see outside banks, credit unions and even some retail stores are perfect for your message!
I contacted several basks in our area and all of them posted a blurb about the seminar. The Fireworks Popcorn Co. in my town also has a scrolling sign and thanked me for submitting my item because so few other people do.
3. Don’t Forget the Meteorologists
Your event might be perfect for pitching to the weather guys and gals at your local TV station, particularly if it’s held outdoors and relies on good weather.
Visit the TV stations’ websites, look for the weather team, and you might be lucky enough to find their email addresses. That’s what I did.
4. Pitch the Shoppers
Local newspapers and other publishing companies print “shoppers,” those weekly freebie newspapers that you pull out of your mailbox.
They’re packed with advertising, but they often need photos and text to plug the holes. These local papers are PERFECT for Publicity Hounds publicizing local events.
5. Let Local Colleges Know
If your event is educatonal, students and instructors at your local colleges and technical schools might want to attend.
I contacted a horticulture instructor at the local tech college and asked her to distribute our fliers to her classes. She did. She attended and brought several students with her.
6. Compile a Master Media List
Our club didn’t have a master list of media contacts, which really slowed me down.
I’ve compiled a simple list on a Word document, with deadlines, and I can hand it off to whoever does publicity for the next event. I used many of the same tips I shared from the webinar on ‘How to Create Your Own Database of Valuable Media Contacts” which I hosted last week.
7. Pitch Your Best Visual Story Ideas
Jessie Gwidt, one of our members, creates beautiful garden art from castoffs she finds around the house, in her garage, and at rummage sales, and taught others how to do it at our seminar.
I chose that story to pitch to The Ozaukee Press, our local weekly newspaper and our Number One media target. I hit a bases-loaded home run. They ran a large story with several photos of Jessie and her creations on the front page of the Lifestyle section and jumpd the story inside. The same issue of the newspaper included the press release that had all the details, almost word for word.
Before you pitch, create a plan so that you’re pitching logical but different story ideas about the same event to different media outlets. That way, they all aren’t getting the same story, and your audience will be exposed to a lot different things that will be featured at your event.
8. Use Patch.com
If you live in one of the 22 states in the United States where Patch has a local site, you’re in luck.
I pitched a story about a husband-and-wife gardening team in our club because they were both teaching classes at our event. Lisa Beyer, the editor, said she’d rather do a more general feature story on our club and mention the gardening seminar. Patch lets readers subscribe to daily email alerts so they don’t miss any local news.
9. Assign Two Photographers, Not One
I was disappointed with the photos I shot on Saturday with my iPhone 4S because the lighting was so poor. I should have taken a camera with a flash.
Then I got to thinking, what if I had lost my phone, or if it had fallen into the toilet? All those photos, lost forever.
Next year, I’m suggesting we have two photographers and also assign someone the job of shooting video testimonials. Let’s get participants talking about us when they’re still pumped up.
Our committee is meeting again on Saturday to debrief and review a list of all the things we want to do better next year. We were tickled at the large turnout, but we noted about a dozen things we need to discuss.
Before the event, ask members to email you with anything the see that needs to be added to the list.
11. Send Thank You Notes
I’m busy writing thank you notes to the tech school instructor, the popcorn shop, the banks, the newspapers and everyone else who helped us publicize our event.
Don’t send email thank yous! That’s the lazy way. Handwritten notes are so much more personal and sincere.
That’s my list. Let’s see yours. What are your favorite tips for publicizing local events?