Well, it’s crunch time, and now is the time that I’m really getting nervous. I happen to love to host events, but the thing that scares me the most is when you put together an event and then have no way of knowing whether anyone will show up. For some reason, all the people who can’t make our event have come out of the woodwork to tell me they’re sorry they can’t come. In fact, I think I must have spoken with at least five people a day who couldn’t attend, and I really didn’t hear from the parents who planned to join us for our event.
But then, about two days ago, the tide started to turn. A few moms who are totally plugged into my community came up to me and said they had heard about our event and planned to bring their child. Little by little, I started to hear from more people who were planning to attend, and the butterflies in my stomach began to subside. So here’s the big question when you’re planning an event and hoping people will show up: How do you ensure that people will come? Here are a few tried-and-true tips I’d like to share:
1. Make sure your event is posted on local event calendars. Your local newspaper, TV station and radio station have local calendars. If you don’t get the chance to appear on air promoting your event, you can at least upload the information to the media outlet’s website. You can also find the e-mail addresses of reporters who might cover your topic of interest on the newspaper’s website. E-mail them and invite them to cover your story − nothing ventured, nothing gained!
2. Partner with your local newspaper, radio or television station. If you want to get the word out in a big way, then reach out to your local paper and invite one of their editors to participate or moderate the discussion. You can do the same with a radio or news anchor. Once the media outlet is involved, you can arrange a promotional partnership where they will promote your event and you will feature their talent and signage at your event.
3. Send out flyers! Nothing beats the old-fashioned way of designing a flyer, printing out 100 copies and placing them in strategic locations − libraries, schools, community centers, bagel stores, etc. Wherever your target audience shops, place a flyer on a bulletin board that might catch their eye. Or, put a few teenagers to work and pay them to hand out flyers in strategic locations.
4. Place an ad in your local newspaper or family magazine. It might cost you a few hundred dollars, but that placement could help generate attendance at your event. Additionally, make sure that your information is also included in the media outlet’s e-mail newsletter so that they can blast tens of thousands of subscribers with news about your event.
5. Reach out to local bloggers and websites in your area who might focus on news relating to your community. In our area, there’s a site called Talk of the Sound (www.talkofthesound.com) that focuses on all kinds of news and happenings in New Rochelle.
6. Feature speakers who have ties to your community or a platform to get the word out. While I’m sure you’d love to feature a celebrity at your event, that could be a bit expensive. Instead, reach out to the “rock stars” in your backyard who can work hand in hand with you to spread the word and help generate attendance.
7. Enlist the support of volunteers in your area who are passionate about your cause. I was fortunate enough to have several moms in my community who came forward and helped spread the word to the PTA, sports teams, local schools and parents.
So there you have it − my tried-and-true tips for attracting an audience to an event. As my Grandma Dora used to say, “If you don’t show up, you’ll never know what you missed!”
Check back with us next week for our big event, and don’t forget to Vote for Team Beth!