I’m currently involved with planning a number of local events and I really enjoy working in a volunteer team to create something fun, informal and which brings people together. I organise a scarecrow festival in the village where I live and actually relish the challenge of marketing on a really tight shoestring.
Here are my ideas on how you can promote your community event and ensure you’ve got a gang of helpers and lots of visitors having a good time.
- Start with your idea: are you promoting an annual event which has been running a while, or is this going to be something new? Both offer opportunities to do things differently, so try and get a discussion going with a group of varied people and share some initial thoughts. Make sure this happens well enough in advance –how many monthly meetings will you need? Will the school holidays disrupt planning and availability?
- Understand what’s currently available locally to promote events. Do your research and find out when the village magazine’s deadline is, which shops might display a poster, which community group has an enewsletter, how many noticeboards there are (outside and within venues).
- Get a crew together: you’ll need volunteers to help plan the event and organise publicity. This could be split into someone who does the social media posts, someone who’ll do some poster designs and someone who’ll hit the streets and pin posters or do a flyer drop. You also need to identify those people who’ll help spread the word (this particularly helps if you’re trying to reach certain types of visitor who might not be online). Who runs a local group(s) and how can you brief them and keep them updated about what’s being planned?
- Keep it simple. Above all people want good quality information and they need this prior to purchasing a ticket, in the week before (eg “Where am I going to park?”) and also during the event (eg programme changes). They may also contact you afterwards, not just to enquire after lost property, but to give feedback.
- Build up to the event: think of ways to involve everyone who is taking part in the event, so they can spread the word. Set it up as a Facebook event so friends can see who else is going. Encourage people to share their preparations: photos of building a scarecrow, decorating a cake, rehearsals… And remember to share details of your event with online ‘what’s on’ guides and the local media.
After the event, recognise and celebrate the successes and build a legacy for future years. Collect comments on Facebook walls, post albums of images, thank your volunteers and hold a debrief gathering if you can.
If you’ve been to any community events this year, please share any interesting ways you’ve seen them promote them.