We know it can be challenging to get the word out about your event or festival, so while we know there are lots of ways to pay for advertising, we’ve put together a few handy tips for you that will help in promoting your event for FREE (or at very little cost). Getting the basics right can help your news go a long way.
When you’re planning your event, it’s no harm to put together a separate promotional plan – even a list of things to do with dates or a simple Excel spreadsheet can go a long way. The sooner you can get your event promoted, the more chance there is of it being picked up by other publications, so don’t leave it until the last minute!
Facebook is a FREE and effective way of advertising / building awareness and targeting interested parties who will engage with family and friends about your event – but it’s surprising how many pages lack even the most basic information that could be helping to get the word out about your event. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of Facebook.
– Set up a Facebook page – not a personal profile.
– Fill in your “About” section, and ensure it is up-to-date and doesn’t have last year’s dates in it.
– Ensure there is a contact number and an email address in your profile information
– Provide your location, and your event dates/times as soon as you know them.
– Pin the post with the most important information to the top of your page (e.g. your poster).
– Invite your friends to like your page, and ask them to invite their friends!
– Create an event on your page – this will notify all your followers that something is happening.
How to create an event:
– From your News Feed, click Events in the left menu.
– Click + Create Event on the left side.
– Click Create Public Event. Anyone will be able to see your event and search for it, even if you aren’t friends. Once you’ve created a public event, you won’t be able to change it to private.
– Fill in the event name, location, date, time and description.
– Type and select keywords about your public event so it can be better recommended to people who are interested in that topic (example: Food festival).
– You can then invite guests, upload photos, add a cover photo or video, share posts and edit event details.
Tips for good Facebook content
– If your content is good, people will like and share it, and Facebook will show it to more people. So post things that are likely to get a reaction – photos, videos, polls, funny pics.
– Don’t be afraid to show photos of your committee – people like seeing other people!
– If you have an artist performing at your event, ask them record a short video promoting the event, that you can then share (or get them to share it!)
– Video works well – on desktop, you can even easily create your own video on your Facebook page using a number of still images (under Create Post, click Photos/Video, then Create Slideshow)
Even if you don’t have the time or knowledge to use them regularly, setting up a very basic profile on Twitter or Instagram with a description of your event and a link to your website or Facebook page allows other users to tag you, which means more people will see your account. If you have your information included in your profile, it’s additional free advertising.
If your event is just a once-off, this may not be worth investing time in, but if you’re planning an annual event, we’d highly recommend doing this.
Instagram Stories (which is basically a broadcast channel) is a great way of growing an organic following.
A press release is probably the single most important tool in your marketing toolkit – and it’s free, it just takes a little thought, but save it for bigger events.
– Date your press release and include the name of your organisation in the title
– Keep it short – 400 -500 words max
– Don’t write in the first person -No ‘I’ or ‘We’, – instead write as if you were writing about someone else “Ballymurphy Festival will take place on”, “The committee welcomes”
– Write a good headline – this must be short but catchy and informative, you can add a sub headline if needed giving the most important message.
– First paragraph – Remember the five” W” – What is happening? Where is it and When? Why is it happening? Who is involved?
– Add a little information about you and your location followed by the main message and key information about your event.
– Include contact information = phone number and email – at the end, and add a website ( Facebook and Twitter would also be helpful)
– End the Press Release with ENDS
– Use one good quality image the portrays your event – and the more fun and imaginative the better, no-one really wants a committee photograph!
– Send to your local media outlets with a polite request for inclusion in their next issue. If you’re giving one outlet an exclusive, let them know!
– Always BCC (blind copy) when sending out a press release by email.
If you want to send your press release to national media, we can help here in Mayo North – just give us a call on 096 80090. Note: National media require a longer-lead in time than local; sometimes 4-6 weeks, so the sooner you can get your event details finalised, the better. Always remember to target the right people – those who might be interested in your type of event and might pick it up for a feature.
We have some great graphic designers and printers locally in Ballina and North Mayo who will help you out with your event poster and we’d recommend this – they’ll make your event look professional and eye-catching. However, if you’re really short of cash, Canva is a great free design tool that you can use to design professional looking posters – with a bit of practice. If you need free stock imagery, pixabay.com is a great free resource.
Make sure you have an e-copy of your poster to use on your social media page.
Distribute your poster to businesses in your area, and indeed to your Local Tourist Office and ourselves at Mayo North Promotion Office. Both of us if it’s a community event, or you’re a member will also post on our social media platforms providing wider audiences.
– Send it to us! Email your info to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it to our events calendar.
– Mayo North East Community Journal is a free online and print publication to promote the work of not for profit Local Community Groups, Social Enterprises and Mayo North East activities. Email email@example.com
– The Mayo PPN newsletter (if festivals/community groups are registered with them – it’s free).
– Ballina local Community Radio – will help promote community-led events. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or studio phone 096 20050 & 087 717 5175.
– Send to your local church bulletin
– Email a short notice about your event to the local notes section in each of the local newspapers:
* Western People: Henry Wills email@example.com
* The Mayo News: Anne-Marie Flynn firstname.lastname@example.org (includes all of North Mayo)
* The Mayo Advertiser: Niamh Leonard email@example.com
* Connaught Telegraph: Brian Gillespie Brian.Gillespie@con-telegraph.ie
– Mykidstime.com – You can list family friendly events for free, pick Business account and once you are in Add Events and upload the details and it will publish on their Events calendar.
– Discover Ireland is operated by Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, and features comprehensive information and listings for Irish accommodation, activities, events, tourist attractions and Irish holiday special offers. If you meet their criteria, you can list your event for free here: www.failteirelandevents.ie
– Entertainment.ie: Visit https://entertainment.ie/events/submit-listing/ for details on how to submit/
– RunIreland.com – to promote running events
There are lots more free options available out there which might be appropriate for your event – Google is your friend!
If you have a sponsor on board, great! Include them when sending our your press release (be sure to acknowledge their support too), tag them in your social media posts, and get a good photo. And enlist their help to promote your event on their channels too!
Don’t forget to acknowledge your sponsors – obviously during your event, and a Facebook post afterwards tagging their business is a nice touch. Include them in your PR and advertising where you can, too.
A mailing list is a FREE way to communicate directly with people who are interested in your event. Tools like Mailchimp integrate into your website and allow people to subscribe directly. Then you can send them emails with updates.
A competition for tickets for your event, combined with a meal or an overnight stay is a great way of getting reach on social media.
Your post-event follow-up is just as important as your pre-event work and builds the groundwork for next year – if there is a next year!
– Get photos: If your event is an annual one, consider hiring a photographer to capture some great high-quality photos of the event – a picture is worth a thousand words! Or rope in a friend with a camera who knows how to use it!
– Similarly, good video content goes a long way in capturing the essence of an event. Even video captured with a smartphone can be transformed for free using apps like iMovie and InShot. Or rope in a friend with a drone – drone footage makes everything look great!
– Thank all persons who helped out on and before the day (this can be done nicely on your social media posts and gives you additional content).
– Post photos of the day (bear in mind parental consent for photos of children)
– Ask for feedback on your event! www.surveymonkey.com is a great free survey tool.
– Have a post-event review (gather committee and discuss how the event went and how can it be improved in the future).
– Start planning next year’s event – Hopefully, the experience left you with new insights, better understanding of what works, more knowledge about your attendees, and great ideas about what to do next.
– Where you can afford it, we do recommend using your local media – local newspapers and radio – where you can to amplify your event. Invite them along to your event or your launch – they are generally very generous when it comes to covering such things.
– A listing on MidWest Radio’s Community Pulse is worth considering for community events if you can’t afford a full radio campaign.
If you’d like any more advice on promoting your event for free or at low cost, just give us a call on (096) 80090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Best of luck!