Promoting Meetings and Events
Publicity is an important part of any organization. Without the proper publicity campaign, your organization's goals such as raising money, attracting new members, and providing a service or program will not be adequately met.
An effective publicity program allows the reader to grasp all the important information in the quickest manner possible. Promotional material should be professional and communicate a specific message intended to evoke a response from the reader. Your publicity does not have to be extremely artistic, but graphics make for more eye-catching information.
The key to publicity for meetings and events is that your message should be clear and understandable. Some important considerations to be discussed are:
- Budget: How much can be spent on publicity? Is this figure realistic? How can your organization use this amount most effectively?
- Audience: Which audience will you direct your publicity effort towards? Is there a target market? What is the best approach? Keep in mind that publicizing an event for students is completely different than publicizing an event for non-students.
- Information: Make sure your campaign materials contain all the appropriate information. Answer the questions of who, why, what, when, and where. It is usually best to publicize the aspect of your program that people have heard of or to which they can relate.
- Resources: What resources are available to your organization? List people, talents, materials, etc.
- Location: Where will your material have the most visibility? Creativity is of vital importance. Choose heavily traveled areas or give much thought to placing your advertisement in different or unusual places. If there is a lot of publicity in the same general area, try extremely bright colored materials.
- Schedule: How much time is available? What kind of time line are you dealing with? The optimum time to begin advertising an event is 2-3 weeks in advance of your scheduled activity. Write up a calendar with deadlines and monitor this closely to keep on the right track. Be realistic.
Proper Publicity Planning
Since the list of potential publicity outlets both in your community and on campus is virtually endless. Consider the following before expending time, energy, and other limited resources:
- Target Audience: When developing a publicity plan, you need to think about who you want to notice and read your information. Is the publicity geared toward prospective students, current members, graduated members, university employees, or the general community? The publicity should speak directly to the group you are targeting.
- Location & Content: Match the appropriateness of the media to your group's image and message. Make sure it is in the right place to get noticed.
- Timeline Planning: Work backwards from the date of your program. Some considerations are optimal release time of publicity, deadlines for ads, and time involved in copy writing, design, printing, and distribution.
- Financial Planning: Good publicity doesn't have to be expensive or look cheap. Considerations to achieve on-budget publicity are available funds, possible donations, possible hidden costs, and free publicity available.
- Media Selection: Use your brainstorming techniques. Considerations are target audience, talent available in your group or for hire, money and time available, and appropriateness of media to desired image of group event.
- Delegation of Responsibility: Share the responsibility. Publicity is a big job and small steps can easily be forgotten or overlooked. Using your timeline and media lists, list all steps that need to be done for each piece of medium.
- Evaluation & Archives: Evaluate the success of your publicity campaign against the goals and objectives of the program in a timely manner. Don't make your successors re-invent the wheel. Keep originals of all publicity.
Establish Publicity Plan
When beginning your publicity campaign, proper planning can be instrumental. Turning the following questions into an effective publicity campaign requires making decisions and coordinating timing, media, selection, and delegation of responsibilities. Be sure to list specific objectives for the activity in measurable terms.
- Who is Doing it? Interested individuals will be more apt to get involved when they know what the group is about.
- What is it for? This is your chance to let potential members know if they would be a good fit for the organization.
- What is Happening? Clearly describe the event or activity that is being publicized so interested individuals know what they're getting involved with.
- Why is it Happening? List general goals and purposes for the event or activity so people know what to expect.
- When is it Happening? List dates and times for the event to ensure that interested individuals know when they need to attend the event.
- Where is it Happening? List all relevant locations surrounding the process and event to ensure people know where to go to attend the event, buy tickets, or pick up applications.