In Part One, I covered the initial set up of an event, including tips on finding your artists and venue. In this post I’ll be suggesting ways to effectively get the word out about your event in print and online, maximising the number of people you get through the door. Tomorrow’s third and final part will cover the event itself and how it can help promote your future endeavours.
Promoting Your Event
Set Your Deadlines.
A clearly laid out plan of action is invaluable. Certain things need to be done at different times leading up to the event – keep track in a diary or use an online calendar. Here’s a few pointers to help you work out an effective schedule:
- Have your flyer and/or poster designed at least a month before the event, which will give you plenty of time to distribute it in relevant locations and at events taking place before yours. You will also need it for online promotion.
- Have your online events pages up at least three weeks before the event (see below).
- Press releases should be sent out by email around a month before and ideally followed up by phone a week or so later.
These ‘deadlines’ aren’t hard and fast, but they do give you plenty of time to chase up loose ends and make sure your event is featured as widely as possible.
Write an Effective Press Release.
Writing a concise, informative press release should be one of the first step towards promoting your event, because it distils your concept down to essentials and defines it. It will prove to be an invaluable reference point as you spread the word through various media.
For formatting and layout, take a look at this press release (.doc file) for our Charlie Parr gig. You’ll see it’s broken down into short sections:
- The basics – who, what, where, when, cost.
- A short description of the event and venue.
- Information on the headline artist (you can also include information about the support acts).
- A little information on Colour and what can be expected from one of our nights.
- Relevant links to further information on artists, the label and Colour.
Keep it to the point and try to be clear about why the reader should dig deeper and possibly feature your event in their publication. It should be no longer than one A4 page.
Build Up You Contacts.
A time consuming but utterly essential undertaking is building up a list of contacts, including the following:
- Local and national press. Try to specifically target arts and entertainment journalists, but also send it to their news desk and listings service if they have one.
- Local blogs and websites that will mention live music events.
- Specialist publications and blogs that cover the genres you’re presenting.
- Listings services and websites – some accept emails, others require you to fill out an online form. Here are a few we use:
When you make contact:
- Tailor your emails to reflect who you are contacting: think of creative ‘angles’ that would work as a story for journalists.
- It’s worth setting up an email address exclusively for your events, and grouping your contacts according to their purpose.
- The body of your email should include the basics and short description from your press release. It’s worth pasting a plain text version of your press release after the body of the email, in case they can’t access the Word file. You can also attach an e-flyer when contacting journalists.When dealing with the press, don’t just leave it at an email: call them up and ask if they’ve received it. They receive a huge volume of potential stories and a phone call will give you a chance to sell your event to them.
A great deal of promotion is now done online, which is easy to do and has levelled the playing field somewhat, but posters, flyers and other physical promotion are still a great way to reach people. Well placed, well thought out printed material will catch the eye of people who you may not be able to reach online and inspire them to find out more about the event. Here’s a few pointers:
- Don’t be put off by complex software like Photoshop or InDesign. You don’t need to be a professional designer to come up with something striking and some of the best advertising around is wonderfully simple (or appears to be).
- Present essentials clearly: the ‘basics’ that begin your press release should all be clearly visible and instantly readable. Don’t let them be crowded out by complicated design tricks or images. Don’t overload it with text either.
- If you’re putting on regular events under the same name, consider developing a consistent visual aesthetic that suits the concepts behind your nights. This will make what you do instantly recognisable to potential attendees.
- Put a web address on there where people can find out more information, even if it’s a Facebook or Last.FM events page.
- Get several quotes from printers and make sure you conform to their print guidelines. I can recommend Awesome Badges and Birmingham-based Mission Print. If you’re taking a DIY approach, consider using different types or shapes of paper to make your flyers and posters stand out.
Embrace Online Social Media.
With the boom in social media websites this section could take up a whole post but I’ll be brief (Chris Unitt wrote a wonderfully concise guide to online promotion here). As I’ve mentioned, Facebook, MySpace and Last.fm pages are simple and effective ways to make your event accessible to wider online communities, but there are a wealth of other resources out there.
If you’re planning to put on regular events under the same name, it’s definitely worth setting up permanent pages on the aforementioned social networking sites so you can inform others of what’s coming up. Be courteous: don’t hammer their inboxes and comments sections constantly! You’ll quickly fall out of favour if enthusiasm turns into nuisance.
Setting up a blog is something else to consider because it gives your events a permanent home with all your endeavours archived for potential visitors to stumble across. It also serves as an effective base for your current promotional material that interested parties can refer and link to. The more relevant links you receive, the higher Google will rank your site, enhancing your hits. Don’t forget to link to any pages on social network sites you have set up so readers can communicate with you.
There are several well designed blog services out there, including Blogger, Typepad and our favourite, WordPress. They’re all free to use and take minutes to set up and start writing. Paid upgrades are often available if you get more ambitious. With Colour, the blog has proved to be a satisfying undertaking in its own right, because it allows us to enthuse about the music we love and it’s found an audience beyond our events. Also, if readers enjoy our posts and what we’re into, they may come to our events.
Twitter is drawing a lot of attention from the media right now, in part because it generates conversations and encourages networking. I’ve only just started using it and while it’s not a tool for pushy promotion, others may be interested in updates detailing what your putting on, as you organise it.
Finally, there are loads of social bookmarking tools out there, including Delicious and StumbleUpon. Adding button links to these on your blog and even your Facebook and MySpace profile will give users of these services a gentle nudge to bookmark and share your event. AddThis enables a button to be placed on a site, link sharing through a multitude of different services.
If you do decide to utilise these social media services, it’s important to be consistent and keep them updated, otherwise it may look to a particular online community like you’ve stopped putting on events. Inevitably you will come to favour certain sites over others, but it’s at least worth putting an e-flyer and write-up on them all.
Tell People About It!
Generating a buzz through all of the above with hopefully mean your event is well attended, but your best asset is your enthusiasm. Talk to people you meet about what you’re doing: passion is an infectious thing.