Special Events and Your Partnership - Advertising Your Partnership for Events Free

If you are busily organising a community business partnership event that requires some outside involvement, or aims to attract a crowd, advertising and promotion will be high on your "must-do" list.

The good news is that because there are so many ways to advertise any partnership event you may be planning, finding one that's right for you shouldn't be too hard.

Better than that, finding a way to promote your event for free is also pretty easy – meaning that your partnership's promotions /advertising budget does not have to be stretched beyond breaking point to make sure people know you have something going on.

And even if you do have an ample advertising budget, and are willing to pay for a bit of advertising, you should always be on the lookout for a way to double up that paid advertising with some free promotional opportunities.

A Dozen Ways to Advertise Your Event for Free

Following is a list of 12 ideas for advertising your partnership event for free.

This list is by no means all encompassing, with its emphasis on ideas that any size partnership – be it involving small, medium or large groups and business – can make use of.

  • Word of Mouth.    
The first place to start is with your members and supporters.
Use your meetings, regular communications and newsletters to let them know about an event and encourage them to tell their friends and friends of friends.
Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful selling tools because it also comes with a reliable, credible endorsement.

  • "What's on" sections.    
Many major papers have "what's on" or "calendar of events" sections, either in the body of the paper or in special weekend supplements, or both. Also, local/suburban newspapers almost always have a "what's on" section aimed particularly to the local area.
These sections can be overlooked as a resource, but they work because people who read them are looking for things to do – how many times have you scanned these sections and found something to do on a weekend?
Often the people who look at these sections of the paper are motivated and ready to do something – so why not make it your partnership task they contribute to or attend.

  • News - Local newspapers.    
A more realistic and better targeted alternative to trying to get coverage for your event in the major daily newspapers is to approach your local or regional paper.
Your local newspaper should have a "what's on" or community listings section which it is eager to fill with activities from the local area.
It is also more likely to publish a news article on your partnership activity if it is relevant to the local area in which it circulates.
Your local newspaper is also always looking for news to fill its pages, so with the right pitch and plenty of time you should be able to get an article in.
Work your media list and try out stories over the phone to see which gets the best response, and send them a press release as far in advance as possible, with professionally prepared photos and letterhead.
For more information on promoting your event or tips on attracting and maintaining partnership coverage in the media, refer to any of the nine Partnership and the Media Help Sheets available at the Other Resources section of the Our Community website.

  • Posters.    
Displaying posters is a tried and true promotional method, particularly for locally-based events.
Copy your event details, preferably to A3-sized paper, add colour if you wish, and stick up copies wherever regulations allow. Target areas of high motor or pedestrian traffic, as well as public areas or public buildings like libraries or supermarket notice boards.
The only note of caution is to be careful where you put your posters, as some councils have strict by-laws that seem them banned on certain council and public property.
The best answer is to check with your council before putting a poster up on public - rather than private - property.

  • Shop windows.
Think about asking some shops or commercial outlets whether they will allow your partnership to display a poster for your activity in their front window.
Many shops may well be prepared to do so, but be warned, there may be some in direct commercial competition to your partnership's business partner that may baulk at doing so – which is probably understandable.
If that is the case, thank them for their time and move on to the next business.

  • Flyers/Letterbox drop.
A letterbox drop could be a good idea to get your activity some publicity.
Think carefully about the number of letterboxes you wish to put flyers in – maybe a targeted letterbox drop to a certain area or sector may be best.
Think also if your partnership's business partner puts out catalogues – if so, put some flyers in it as a sort of "free ride" for your partnership and its activities. This could be part of an in-kind partnership arrangement between community group and business.
Just make sure you avoid the letterboxes with "no junk mail" signs on them!

  • Other groups' publications.    
Have a look to see if there are other newsletters vaguely linked to your partnership geographical area, or area of interest, and ask them to include a mention of your event.
Some publications to think about could include the school newsletter, local progress association, arts organisations, your peak association's regular communications. Or even neighbouring groups whose members would be interested in your event.

  • E-mail bulletin.    
If you have the email addresses of your members/supporters/business partners, think about sending a mass email to let them know about the event.
Not only is it free in money terms, it's also relatively trouble free and ensures people are notified quickly. Just make sure you don't bug people so much as to see your email classed as "spam" and duly deleted.

  • Online "what's on" columns.
Similar to normal written "what's ons" or calendars of events in newspapers, there are on-line "what's on" columns.
Often these are run by local councils or government agencies, and are keen for appropriate local contributions.

  • Websites.    
Put the details of your event on your website. This has the disadvantage that you are only going to reach the people who know you exist and are interested in what your are doing, but they are also the group most likely to join in or turn up.
Also, this means that anybody who hears vaguely about the event can get the precise details. Make sure you refer to the website address in other forms of advertising or promotion you are undertaking - eg: including the address on pamphlets or in "what's on" ads.

  • Community radio.
Most community radio stations are very keen to support their local organisations and tend to be under-utilised when people think of local media.
To find out who your local or nearest community radio station is, visit the Community Broadcast Association of Australia's website at www.cbaa.org.au
Talk to station staff about how you can get an ad or announcement on the airwaves, or even if there is someone at the station willing to do an interview with you about what you are planning (if your event is big enough).

  • Local politicians'/council publications.
Most State and Federal MPs, as well local councils, produce their own regular newsletters (of varying quality) to tell people about what is happening in the community.
Put your taxes/rates money to use and approach those producing the newsletters for a plug for your event – particularly because it is local and should appeal to residents /constituents.
While you are approaching them with that request, consider asking if you can put some brochures or flyers up in the MP's or council's office area as well.

Be Prepared Once You've Promoted Your Event

There's no point getting publicity unless you are prepared to make the most of it – you need a plan in place to respond to inquiries your publicity may bring.

Before you begin contacting people, make sure that you can meet any potential demand for the event (and for your work) that the publicity may generate. Have an attractive circular printed up and ready to send out to those who request more information about you.

If you are unable to respond to all the interest that a powerful publicity campaign may generate, your efforts could well be wasted.