In order to ensure that your Stampede event is a success, you need to develop a winning promotional strategy. This means identifying your audiences, your key messages, and the best tools for getting those messages to your audiences. So, put on your promotional hat and boots and let’s go!
Think Outside the Pancakes and Burgers
If you want your Stampede event to get attention, why not mix it up with something really different – like Stampede Breakfast crepes or Beef Kabobs?
Remember that your audiences might include people who wouldn’t necessarily attend your event but who might be sponsors, suppliers, strategic partners, or journalists who could write about your event before or after it occurs.
What groups of people will have an interest in this topic?
Who would benefit by attending this event?
Who needs to be there or know about this event? (government agencies, non-profits, community groups, cultural groups, students, researchers, etc.)
List your target audiences in order of importance.
Your Key Messages
What is the primary goal of your event? What are the desired outcomes for your attendees? What is the “call to action” for them as they leave? Why is this event important and who is it going to impact? As you answer these questions, you will begin to determine your core key message, and then secondary messages.
Your Communications Tools
Now the fun part begins. Match the messages and communications tools to your target audiences. The tools available now include a range of social media platforms, paid and earned advertising, as well as through formal and informal online and in-person networks.
To maximize your promotions budget, find professional help to obtain “earned media” rather than paid media/advertising. It is often more effective as well as being free.
On Time, On Budget
These two go hand in hand. If you stick to your time plan and schedule leading up to the event, you won’t go over budget by having to pay extra fees for “rush jobs”. Take time to create your promotional materials well and well in advance so that you have them one or two weeks before the event. If your event requires registration, deliver materials a week or two before the registration deadline.
Quality = Credibility
Determine the core message about this event and state it clearly throughout all promotional materials, as well as your website and online presence. Remember that the first impression gained through the promotional materials will greatly influence whether people ultimately show up. Choose quality professionals to develop your promotional materials and online presence. Quality goes a long way towards establishing and extending your credibility.
Contacting the Media: Be Visual
At Stampede, the media receive the equivalent of a stampede of cows coming at them full speed in terms of news releases and event announcements. Is your event visual? Meaning….is there something worth photographing or capturing on video?
Don’t just have a special speaker, have the speaker arrive on horseback in the hotel lobby! Or have your special guest/award winner take a ride on a mechanical bull? You get the idea.
Is your event newsworthy? If your event has one or more of these attributes, perhaps media outlets should be contacted:
- Timeliness: the event coincides with one or more current events
- The event is happening locally, or is relevant to local people
- Prominence: involving high-profile individuals
- Impact: having a major effect on a large number of people
- Magnitude (again, large number of people involved)
- The focus of the event may be considered controversial
- Human interest: the event offers an opportunity for personal feature or emotional appeal
- Potential for good visuals
- Physical location of media members if they attend
- Whether to set aside time for reporters to talk with your speaker
- Whether media interviews should be done in a news conference or in one-on-one interviews
- Location of cameras during the event
- What backdrop can be used or created to help identify your unit and the campus
- Whether to credential reporters
- Media coverage can add perceived value to the event for participants and attendees. Consider sending media clips and/or tapes to honorees after the event!
The traditional way to contact the media about an event, or a high-profile speaker at your event, was to send a press release. These days, wire services have less impact on the newsrooms than you might think. They end up on the bottom of a long list of stories which have come to reporters directly through social media, news tip lines, and relationships established with those reporters. There are more effective strategies for getting the media to cover your event than just sending the traditional press release.
Deliver your event notice in a bouquet of beef jerky!
Contact a savvy media or public relations professional for help putting the “Yeehaw” into promoting your event.
By Richelle Wiseman, Inscape Communications