Publicity is an intrinsic part of any organization. Without the proper publicity, the organization's goals - to raise money, to attract new members, or to provide a program or service - will not be met. Therefore, for your organization's publicity to bring results, careful thought and planning should be put into your campaign.
The most effective publicity allows the reader to grasp all the important facts of the program quickly. Accordingly, promotional materials should bear a clearly printed message that is designed to evoke a response from the viewer. They do not necessarily have to be extremely artistic, but your message should be clear and understandable to the reader.
Before beginning your publicity campaign, the following should be discussed.
- Budget: Always complete a budget in advance. Determine how much can you realistically spend and if there are any hidden costs.
- Audience: Who do you want to reach and how? Is there a pre-selected market available? Take into account age groups, audience's likes and dislikes, career fields, etc. Publicizing something for professors or non-students may be an entirely different task than publicizing an event for students.
- Information: Make sure that your campaign materials contain all of the appropriate information (who, what, when, where, why, how). It is best to publicize the aspect of your program that people are most familiar and which they can relate.
- Resources: What are your resources? Look at people, talent, materials donations, etc.
- Location: Where will your materials get the most attention? Choose high traffic areas and give thought to placing your advertisement in different and unusual places. Be creative! Make sure to research the rules and procedures of your location and how early you need to reserve it.
- Schedule: How much time do you have? What deadlines must be met? The optimum time to begin advertising the event is 2-3 weeks before it is going to happen. Write up a realistic calendar with deadlines to keep track.
Once you have thoroughly discussed the above items, your publicity campaign should be ready to take off. All that is needed is the appropriate medium. The following contains a list of the various types of media that will help you formulate a successful publicity push.
Types of Media
- Word Of Mouth
Probably the best medium of all is word of mouth. Once you have put together a publicity committee, it must sell your event to the public. If everyone talks up the event in classes, parties, and cafeterias, people will become interested.
Most newspapers have an "events column" and will advertise your event for free (e.g., the Michigan Daily's The List). For information about procedures and deadlines, contact the paper's editor.
Public Service Announcement (PSA)--FCC regulations require that radio stations make public service announcements about programs and events in the community. A PSA cannot sell anything or promote a profit-making enterprise. You can follow the same format as with a press release, but include the time it takes to read your PSA; it can be 10, 20, 30 or 60 seconds in length. It should be sent to the radio station at least two days in advance of the date on which you want the announcements made. Stations have the right to decide when and if the PSA will be aired.
- Residence Hall competition
- Skits, stunts with costumes
- Half-time presentation
- Logos Phone-a-thon (call people from directory)
- Curiosity teasers - sneak previews
- Clues to an event
- Bumper stickers
- Classroom blackboards
- T-shirts (worn in advance of event)
- Pass out free tickets
- Balloons Displays
Adapted from the Office of Student Activities & Leadership of the University of Michigan