Promoting your special event

Published 12:59 pm Monday, May 16, 2011

In the last article we discussed profit enhancers for your special events. In this article we will talk about promotion for your special event.

I think we all would agree that the most effective and cost effective way to promote anything is word-of-mouth advertising. In looking for ways to promote your event try a method that is essentially free. This method requires the nonprofit to team up with a local newspaper, TV, or radio station for a contest. In exchange for a specific number of spots or print ads promoting the event, the charity gives away a certain number of tickets each week.

When purchasing advertising for your event, try some of the following ideas. Always remember that newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations offer special rates to nonprofits. Make sure to look for websites that get a lot of local traffic and make sure the traffic is from your donors. Free weekly papers or email newsletters are a great resource for advertising. Finally, check with local companies to see if it is possible to provide stuffers or inserts for their regular company mailings.

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For formal special events that require invitations, make sure that the save-the-date cards are sent out before the invitations and at least eight weeks before the event. During the time that the save-the-date cards are being mailed the nonprofit should be investigating and promoting the event with travel bureaus and chambers of commerce. Both groups often publish newsletters and look for local content regularly. Also keep in mind that local newspapers usually have a free community events calendar.

We have already mentioned that one of the most effective ways to get the word out is through the news media. This can include writing PSAs or press releases and arranging radio talk shows. If news media is right for your nonprofit and event, make sure you have a press kit for the event. The press kit should include the following: cover letter, a news release, a fact sheet, organization information, sponsor list, poster, photos, and any print media from prior events. Make sure that you send all press release material out four to six weeks in advance of the upcoming event. Other publicity for the event can include the following: posters/flyers, billboards, the back of grocery store receipts, grocery sacks, movie theaters (pre-movie previews), publicity stunts, and pre-events.

The next article will continue the series on special events and how to successfully host one for your organization.

Nonprofit Leadership column, written by Melissa Le Roy, a nonprofit consultant, is aimed at providing guidance from Melissa’s perspective as a leader in both the nonprofit and for profit businessworld and does not reflect the views or opinions of any organization she has been affiliated with. For questions or comments related to this series, please feel free to contact