Marketing the Event

Raising public awareness of any product, service or organization is always easier around a specific event. Use this event to get in touch with your local media, allied organizations in the community and region and your own clients/customers.


Begin immediately by collecting press releases, flyers, brochures, posters, and registration forms that you think are well done. They can help you design your own materials and help to ensure that you do not miss important information. If you have a communications or public relations/media department, ask them for help.



Local Media

It is always a good idea to keep in regular touch with the journalists/broadcasters most likely to report on your organization. If you already have that kind of rapport, then promoting this specific event will be easy.


If you have not been in regular touch with the local media, then this event is the perfect opportunity to begin that process. Begin by finding out the names of the journalists most likely to report on your event. For radio and television, it is the program's producers that need to be reached first.


Begin with a telephone call and ask permission to send in a press release as a follow-up. Let them know that the speaker(s) and event planners (you!) are available for interviews before and at the event. Call a few days before to remind them and invite them to share in one of the breaks or lunch (like the rest of us ­ they love free food!).


The best time to approach various media outlets will depend on their size and the size of their area. Check with your own contacts. For example, in some areas the newspapers only need a week or so to decide whether to send a journalist and/or photographer to an event. For radio and television, they may require a longer notice with the understanding that if a better 'story' comes up, your event will likely be 'bumped.'



A Press Release

A press release is simply a tool to get someone interested enough to follow up with a telephone call to you to ask for more information. Like a job resume, you should keep it short with enough information to answer the questions:


  1. Is this event important to our readers/viewers?

  2. Does it fit in with our production schedule?

  3. Is the speaker(s) interesting enough to assign a reporter/producer to interview them?

  4. Is this group worthy of some community 'good will' reporting?

  5. Is there a deeper story here that will interest an even broader readership/viewers that the event planners don't know about?

  6. Can this story or a working relationship with this group help my career?

  7. If they answer yes to one or more of these questions, then you will likely get a story. Once you build a rapport with them, it will become easier to help them report on your services and organization in the future. If you can help them find 'a good story,' they will be grateful. To make their life even easier, you can draft a short article as part of the press release or separately so that a journalist or copy editor can revise it only slightly and print it when they have extra space in the paper. Attach a high quality photo to save them the expense of sending out a reporter. If nothing else, the story and photo may be an extra incentive for them to send out their own reporter and photographer.

  8. Include the sponsors' logo and name on press release, if they want that. It is a small thing for some genuine return to your sponsors.

  9. See Appendix 8 for a sample press release.



Flyers and Posters

Use the in-house expertise of your organization's communications or public relations department if you have one. Otherwise, flyers or posters can be done economically by asking someone in your organization with a creative flare or a local school's art department to create one for you. Another possibility, when you have more time, is to create a public 'contest' to create a stunning piece of art work for your event.

Determine:


  1. where posters will go,

  2. how large they need to be (i.e., cost of a 4-color, 14x7 poster is quite different from a letter-sized photocopy on coloured paper)

  3. how many copies you will need (plus extras)

  4. who will design it and at what cost

  5. who has final approval over the art work without having to pay full price if the design is not acceptable.

  6. who will distribute before the event

  7. who will collect them afterwards.


With a high quality master copy, a local copy shop may give you a discount or donation to produce the flyers or posters. These can then be delivered through the post office or by volunteers to local businesses, libraries, faith communities, grocery stores, etc. for prominent placement. Have volunteers go back regularly to replenish supplies and to ensure that the posters haven't been taken down too early. Once the event is over, make sure to go back to all these places and remove the posters and collect any extra fliers and to thank the people there. This gesture will help enormously the next time you promote an event.


Flyers and posters need to 'grab' people's attention in an appropriate, positive way. They are less detailed than brochures and are only designed to get people to call and ask for more information. They should always include:


  1. What is happening

  2. Why ­ the benefits that participants will receive during and after this event

  3. Who is putting the event on with their name and logo

  4. Where (include map if necessary)

  5. When

  6. How people can get more information (give your contact name, telephone number and e-mail/web site)

  7. Sponsors' logo and name

  8. Accessibility information (re: physical accessibility, signs, childcare, handout materials, etc.)


For example:

Who will care for

your loved ones as they

get older or ill?


Listen to Canada's leading author talk about your options

and how you can make a life-defining difference to the ones you love. Presented by:

(your name)
Date
Place
Time

For more information, contact:
Address and phone number.
Website if available.


Brochures

Brochures (including a registration form or a separate form) are sent to those people most likely to register for the event.

The brochure is more detailed than a flyer or poster and should give:


  1. What is happening

  2. Who should attend

  3. Why ­ the benefits that participants will receive during and after this event

  4. Who is putting the event on including any registration or business numbers, charitable numbers, name and logo

  5. Who are the speakers and why they are worth hearing

  6. Information on the content of the one-day workshop (perhaps even a schedule for the day)

  7. Where (include map if necessary)

  8. Hotel accommodation information, directions and contact telephone number and e-mail

  9. When

  10. Cost and what the fee includes

  11. Payment details

  12. Special terms and conditions re: cancellations, discounts, multiple person registration discounts, discount rates for those from allied groups working on the same event together,

  13. How to register

  14. How people can get more information (give your contact name, telephone number and e-mail/web site)

  15. Disclaimer similar to: "The organizers reserve the right to make such changes to the program and speakers as is necessary due to conditions beyond our control"

  16. Sponsors' name and logo.

  17. Accessibility information (e.g., available on request, childcare, assistance, etc.).


Registration Forms

There are four types of registration: mail in, phone in registration, e-mail/internet and at the event.

At a minimum, the form should include:


  1. Person's name

  2. Title

  3. Full address

  4. Telephone numbers

  5. E-mail address

  6. Payment details (e.g., check, credit card, invoice to organization)

  7. Sponsors name and logo.


Advance Registration

Collect registration forms from other one-day workshops and conferences that you attend. They will make good models for what you need to include.


Only ask for information you need. This is not a good time to do surveys or collect other information. People do not like filling in forms, so make your form simple and easy to fill out.


If possible, consider an online registration so that people can type in their information (faster for most people these days).

If they need to use a paper form, ask them to print their answers.


Use the same type font for most of the text. Switching between fonts to be 'creative' is only distracting for most people.


Where possible, use check-off boxes or "circle the correct answer" to avoid them have to write.


Include any incentive to register early on the form. It is not enough to include it in the brochure since they may not register immediately. On the registration form give the cut-off date: "This pre-registration offer ends on date."


Let them know what is included with the registration fee. For example, - breakfast and lunch, handout materials, break snacks and drinks, and any 'gifts' donated for the event.


Tell them "Do Not Send Cash. Make Check or Money Order Payable To:" Indicate that money will be deposited immediately and no postdated checks will be accepted.


If you accept credit cards, indicate which ones (use their logos) and ask for their credit card number, their expiry date and the name on the card.


Space for people to request any accommodation for their personal needs. For example, child care, accessible washrooms, specific dietary request (vegetarian or kosher meal), seating near the front to better see the overhead projections.


End the form with the contact person, telephone number and e-mail to answer the registrant's questions.


Once you receive a registration form and it is correctly filled out with the required fee, send a confirmation letter or e-mail. You can include any program changes, information about accommodations for out of town registrants, or reminders that you like. If there were any errors on either the form or in the fee, add that to the letter. Include their receipt for the fees. If it is too close to the event, bring their receipt with you to include in their handout material. Some organizations will only pay for a conference/workshop fee after receiving an invoice. You may need to set up an accounting system procedure to make that possible. Try to make it a fast turn-around time to avoid late or cancelled registrations. The registrant is rarely at fault for slow payment from a large organization so you may need to include some leeway in collecting fees after the one-day event to accommodate those registrants.


Onsite Registration

The form for onsite registration can be the same or a simplified version to make it easy to register. People remember how easy or difficult it was to register for an event. This is a major deciding factor in how they evaluate the overall day but also of whether or not they will come back to another event hosted by the same organization.

The registration process, therefore, provides an opportunity for registrants to feel genuinely welcomed to the event as well as the time to fulfill your paper work. Have plenty of people available to register, direct traffic and solve problems as they arise. There is nothing worse for registrants than having a concern or problem and not knowing who/what is being done about it.

For registrations, organize them either:
1. alphabetically
2. by region/geographically
3. by employer/organization.

Determine if you will assign seating (ask the speaker if this would be helpful ­ for example, ensuring that people from the same agency are divided equally in the room so they can meet and network with new colleagues). If you have assigned seating, ensure you have signs on the tables so people can find their seats easily.

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Event Planning Guide


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