When the Budget is Tight
As WNBA-Charlotte‘s Publicity Chair for almost six years, I’ve found that using strategy to market your chapter’s events is the best plan when the budget is slim to none. Our chapter leaders and members commit their time (hours, weeks, even months), energy and, sometimes, money when hosting chapter events.
And, like a book signing, no matter the event’s purpose — fundraising, raising awareness, increasing the visibility of authors’ work in the community, or serving members, the last thing you want is empty chairs.
But let’s face it: promoting nonprofit events is challenging, especially with the decrease in print resources we counted on in the past.
The upside is that the advent of social media offers many alternative opportunities. I’m constantly learning new ways to promote events by listening to other members and pursuing new ideas.
Social media is the No. 1 way we promote our events. It’s a great low-to-no cost way to market and gain awareness.
Facebook is phenomenal because so many people use this platform. Our chapter has a well-read Facebook page with a fairly large audience.
Create a Facebook event well in advance of your event (within two to four weeks), and ask members to share your posts on their social media accounts. Sharing is caring, and it works!!
We also use Facebook advertising to reach a larger audience. You can choose demographic information such as men and women ages 18–65 with interests in reading, writing, books, and more. You can also choose the geo location where the ad will appear (e.g. city and state).
Other social media channels like Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter allow you to connect to your audience, too.
Another idea is to produce a short video with a catchy theme. Because we hold our annual Bibliofeast event at Maggiano’s each year, the theme several years ago was “More than Meatballs.”
Have fun with your message, and engage as many people as you can.
Those of us who are longtime members understand that we’re supporting a great cause when we attend events, but new members and the public need incentives.
This year, our chapter offered a $10 discount to members for each friend they brought to Bibliofeast. So with a $60 price tag, a member who brought three friends received her ticket for $30.
We also hosted a Member Spotlight table where members could promote their book or business for a nominal fee.
If you’re familiar with podcasts in your community that might be book related, you’re off to a great start. If you aren’t, check.
I know of two in Charlotte that target authors. Similar to pitching radio or any media, spend a little time researching the podcasts that are a good fit, and then send them a query.
Area businesses, publishers, or other book community members with larger resources can be helpful. Find companies within or surrounding your community as well as media sponsorships.
A small radio station may get behind your event for a chance to cross promote the station or a station program. Offer the celebrity DJ the opportunity to present during an event. Doing so gives your event more momentum and adds even more excitement.
Media and Press Releases
And, don’t forget the value of traditional media and a great press release. I’ve had some success with this, particularly with a book connection at the local paper.
City and state magazines may include your events too, but you must send them the information months in advance. Usually, the deadlines for information are a minimum of 30 days before the event.
Local news and radio stations also present possibilities although they’re sometimes a very tough sell. The competition for air time and space is huge, so find creative ways to send your message to gain their interest and investment.
Invite influencers to invite their own fan base. We asked the authors featured at Bibliofeast to promote the event on their own social media and websites.
I’ve also asked each author to write a blog post for my own website, which is targeted to authors. After posting the author guest blog post on my website, I shared the link on the WNBA-Charlotte Facebook page.
Each WNBA member probably has one or two contacts who have a large following or fan base. Ask them to share the information, and to attend the event.
Influences are also prospective advertisers and possible champions of your event and the WNBA.
These are just some ways we’ve promoted our events as well as some ideas we’ll use at our next Bibliofeast event.
I hope you’ll share yours!
Marketing your events and using multiple channels and methods to do so helps your events succeed.
And using strategy to market your chapter’s events works. It takes planning, dedication, and creativity, but you’ll eventually start to see results.
Priscilla Goudreau-Santos is a publicist, writer and marketing specialist who lives in Charlotte, NC. Her business, Priscilla Goudreau Public Relations and Marketing, specializes in author and book publicity and enjoys helping authors achieve success. She is a member of WNBA-Charlotte and Publicity Chair for the chapter. You can email her at email@example.com.
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