AMIBA provides templates for press releases, fliers and other materials to help you publicize the event. We also will make the speaker available for advance interviews and do our best to accommodate any media requests during the visit.
Getting the word out to your community about your event should be timely and use diverse means. Not only will you reach more people, but your event will carry more weight with the public if they hear about it through multiple channels — especially if people are asked to participate by personal contacts. Here are some outreach ideas to consider.
For all material, be sure to include:
- A compelling headline indicating the purpose
- Date, time/duration, and location (a landmark may be helpful in addition to an address)
- Note that the event is “Free and open to the public” (or if there is a cost involved)
- Make clear that all people who care about the development of your community are welcome (i.e. not just for business owners)
- If you are accepting underwriting from American Express through AMIBA for your event, you have agreed to include language like “Thank you to American Express for helping make this event possible for (insert town name)” on your press releases. On your website event page, email announcement and fliers, include the American Express logo with a link to http://openforum.com. Download a png for use in print or web.
**Download our Timeline & Checklist for publicizing your event.
1) Posters / fliers
If you already have a logo, feature yours, rather than AMIBA’s. If you do not yet have a logo for your group, seek out an attention-grabbing graphic to draw in the eye. Create a web page with all necessary event information and links. Create a QR code that links directly to the event page to put on posters. Downloading this template may provide a helpful start if you are hosting our most popular “Strength in Numbers” presentation (the template notes Jeff Milchen as the speaker — contact us if you need a flier for a different speaker.
Timing: 2-3 weeks before the event
Placement: Storefront windows, public bulletin boards, business counters. Consider recruiting volunteers to distribute door-to-door at businesses the day before the event. Distributing them a few days earlier, followed by a reminder call is even better.
While this is a significant time commitment, such concrete, finite requests are often ones board members and volunteers commit to more readily than open-ended tasks. Generating a big turnout can do wonders for enhancing the perception of your organization’s strength and momentum.
2) News release
Submit a news release to your local media (see our template for ideas) and follow up within a couple of days by phone. Find some local business people or supportive government officials to provide a quote or two. Designate as contacts one or two people who can speak succinctly and confidently and know some facts or provide good anecdotes. Submit to area newspapers, blogs, radio, and television.
AMIBA staff also are available for pre-event interviews for print or radio, and our presenter will be available for TV interviews immediately before the event if possible.
Timing: Two weeks before the event for weeklies (follow up on the Thu. or Fri. before your target publication date), 4-6 days before the event for dailies and broadcast media, followed by a reminder 2 days before. If your daily paper has a weekly business section, send it the day the previous week’s edition is published. Unless your in a large media market, call a few hours after your news release to verify it was received and have a 15 second pitch ready to sell the newsworthiness of your event.
Placement: Designate someone to contact your local media outlets to learn the proper contact information for any reporters or outlets not current in your database.
3) Get on the air
If your local radio stations have call-in shows or interview opportunities, take advantage of their captive audience to talk about issues and your event. Community radio stations are particularly good targets. Studio space may determine whether more than one person can participate in the program in-studio, however call-in options may exist.
Timing: Contact stations about two weeks ahead of your event. Try to arrange your appearance to occur within 48 hours prior to your event. Also, ask if they’ll run a public service announcement (PSA) to plug the event.
4) Events calendars
Many local websites and media outlets have a local events calendar. Be sure to utilize these! Review other postings to determine the best format to use.
Timing: Generally, as early as possible. Contact the appropriate media or website outlet to learn their submission or posting deadlines.
5) Email lists
Use your own or your group’s contacts to generate attendance virally. In addition, many local businesses send periodic email newsletters to their patrons. Inquire to see if they are willing to include an announcement about your event in their mailing. Don’t forget about local non-profit organizations! Some good prospects to approach include environmental groups, smart growth groups, downtown organizations.
Timing: Some groups issue only a monthly email bulletin, so inquire in advance. Otherwise, an announcement 1-2 weeks ahead followed by an announcement the day before the event is ideal (a morning “day-of” reminder is appropriate for an afternoon or evening event).
6) Paid advertisements
An ad rep with your media outlet(s) of choice often can help with design if you do not have design help available. Be sure to research outlets for requirements well in advance of your event and plan accordingly. Some publications may charge extra for strategic placement (i.e., placement in certain sections or airtimes).
Timing: As many placements as possible, with emphasis on placements the week of the event (for events focusing strictly on local attendees–weight advance publicity more heavily if many participants are sought from outside typical commuting range).
7) Social Media
Identify existing communities of people who would be interested in your event by searching LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (of course, there are others if you have capacity to spread out further).
Put most effort into social media outlets the majority of your followers and target audience already are using. Tying all of your social media together is a good idea, e.g. you can tell your Twitter followers to see event details on Facebook, where they might let their Facebook friends know.
Creating an event on Facebook (See how here) is one good way to organize information about your event and publicize it.
On a Facebook events page, videos, photos, quotations, and information about the event can help generate interest (e.g., “we just booked an incredible caterer,” “the mayor will attend,” etc.). You also can use this space to ask questions that may influence agenda and content.
Reach out to influencers and stakeholders to help spread word about your event. For example, if the local Chamber of Commerce or another organization with many followers is involved or interested in your event, ask them to help promote it on their own social media sites.
8) Online Promotional Tools
Online event hosting tools can make it easy for customers and attendees to RSVP or get tickets and gauge how many guests to expect. Eventbrite is one good option, and there is no cost to use it if your event is free of charge (a per-ticket commission applies if e-tickets are sold through their service). It can be well customized to include linking to social media sites, sending confirmation and reminder e-mails, allowing you to create multiple ticket types (single session, multi-day, VIP reception, etc.) and also tracks all purchases and views in real-time.
You can sign up to attend a demo on how to use Eventbrite, or check out some basic tutorials. Evite is another free online promotional option for those wishing to spread news of their event in style. Evite allows you to customize invitations to send through e-mail with personal photos or with a pre-designed template. You can select a design template, input the event information, input the guest list, and you’ve got a professional looking invitation on the way.
9) Op-eds and letters to the editor
These are a great way to frame issues exactly as you want them in your local print media, as well as to publicize your event (though larger daily papers typically won’t allow event promotion in letters).
AMIBA commentaries like The Benefits of Doing Business Locally can be adapted to use local examples and submitted as a co-written article (send us your draft a few days ahead of your planned submission date for feedback). Each one of the Top Reasons to Choose Local First can be the theme of a letter to the editor. See our guide to effective letters to the editor and guide to op-ed writing (log-in required) for tips on how to get published and make an impact.
AMIBA staff are always happy to copy-edit your letters, commentaries, or outreach material.
Most effective of all is to have your core group call their friends and business contacts to tell them why your campaign and this event is important and ask them to participate. Follow up with an email or phone reminder to those who say yes or indicate potential interest. Don’t neglect this!
Also, consider requesting that every board member extend at least three invitations to their contacts. Have them send a personal email including a flyer or information regarding the event details.
Resources for a successful event:
- Publicity tips sheet (this document)
- Template for press release See our presenters’ biography page for your speaker.
- Event logistics basics
- Presenter biographies and photos
Available on request:
- High-resolution photo of your presenter
- Available dates and times for interviews
- Sample op-ed for local customization
- Menu of potential graphics for flyers
People and groups to invite to a presentation (consider surrounding communities, not just your own)
- Publishers of independent papers
- Town/city council
- County planning board / other county officials
- Business school professors
- “Smart growth” groups
- Environmental groups (citizen and student)
- Downtown/Main Street groups
- Reporters (radio, web, TV, print)
- Teachers and professors
- Student groups
- Independent business owners of particular importance: radio/newspaper/TV, banks, printers, graphic artists, grocers, hardware, bookstores, music stores, ISP, website designer (talk personally to key leaders)
Places to send email notices and/or place flyers
- Local civic organizations
- Business schools
- Public information kiosks (may need prior approval)
- Colleges/universities (may need prior approval)
Also, look for news in local media that provides a good opportunity for letters to the editor (see our primer). In smaller cities and towns, try getting a letter or two published noting your event.
Please contact us with any publicity questions. We welcome suggested additions or clarifications to this page!