How to Publicize Your Community Event



If you are active in your local community, there’s a good chance that you’ll be asked to help organize an event such as an art show, music festival, street party, or other local celebration. Staging events like these is one of the wonderful things about living in a vibrant community, and while it can be hard work getting involved, it’s also a lot of fun and highly rewarding.

The best organizers recognize the talents of their volunteers and assign tasks that match their abilities, but you can’t always find an expert in every required field when you’re relying on volunteer services. One of the most important tasks associated with holding an event is the marketing and publicity, which can be quite daunting if you don’t have a lot of experience in the subject.

Why are marketing and publicity so important?

Getting your message out to all the people who might be interested in attending your event is crucial for a successful outcome. Unless people are aware of what’s going on and why they should be attending, your visitor numbers will be too low to make the exercise viable, and all the efforts everyone’s made to put an event together will be wasted. The problem with marketing is that it isn’t an exact science, and looking for solutions on the Internet can be confusing and even misleading if you don’t find the most reliable and relevant sources of information.

Marketing can be a very broad term, and what would work in one industry might be wholly inappropriate in another. It’s also an easy way to lose money, if you choose the wrong marketing routes and fail to make back what you’ve invested. Therefore it’s vital that you liaise with anyone you know who has a sound understanding of marketing principles, and that you gather as much good quality information as you can.

Marketing budgets

There are plenty of ways you can publicize your event for minimal outlay, but it’s also easy to spend vast amounts on advertising. Low-cost options can be highly effective when used well, so you shouldn’t assume that marketing will only work when it costs you money. However, there will be some expenses incurred even for the most modest of marketing campaigns, so it’s important to get your marketing budget agreed at the outset. That way, you can source the publicity materials and activities that will give you the best return on your investment. When you analyze your budget, make sure you get realistic figures for all the possible actions to take, so that you can decide on which marketing methods will offer you the greatest value for money.

Publicity materials

Printed fliers, posters, and brochures are still one of the most effective ways of spreading the word about a local event. You should aim to produce printed materials that are eye-catching, send out a clear communication, include all the relevant details, and look professionally printed. Designing marketing materials takes skill and an understanding of how to appeal to people who may be interested in attending. If you and your volunteer colleagues lack graphic design skills, you can use a printer who offers a design service and work with them to produce an effective product. It’s usually not much more expensive to print multiple copies of fliers and posters, because the bulk of the cost is incurred in the design and set-up stages. That means you could order several thousand fliers for not a great deal more than the cost of five hundred. For most events, a blanket approach to printed publicity works best, as your target audience will be the local population rather than a specific type of consumer. Mail drops, putting posters up in as many display areas as possible, and distributing brochures to community groups will ensure the word gets around about your event.

Spreading the word

Using local radio, television, and news media is also a primary tool in local marketing campaigns. You won’t necessarily need to pay out large amounts to advertise via these channels, although if you have enough in your budget, it’s better to use local outlets rather than aim for exposure further afield. Interviews and articles about local interest news stories are always in demand for local publications, so contact the relevant editors or researchers to suggest your event could make a good story. Ideally, you want to create a buzz about your event, and turn it into the place to be on the designated date.

Word of mouth marketing

If people in the community notice your marketing materials, and hear more about you and what the event is about, they will start discussing it with each other, making use of the power of word-of-mouth marketing. One good way to start conversations and get people talking about your event is to have custom buttons made. Everyone associated with the organization of the big day can wear a button, which other people will respond to and ask questions about. You can also give out buttons to community members or anyone who buys tickets for example, to keep up the momentum of interest. Have a look at a custom button website, which will contain more info on the types of buttons available and how to order them.

Social media

Having a website is a good idea, because it will be a source of information for anyone wanting to find out about your event. However, your most effective online tool will be social media, which can be targeted at local readers and raise the profile of your event or organization. Make regular, interesting posts and tweets, and encourage people to join in. One method of attracting people that works in many spheres is offering a free gift or some sort of discount, for example buy one ticket get one free, or buy a family ticket and get a cuddly toy. Choose items that are appropriate to your event and your potential visitors, and make sure you calculate the costs involved in providing discounts or freebies.

Being part of a community and helping with local events is a satisfying experience that will benefit your friends and neighbors and help you feel like you belong.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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