Marketing Your Bicentennial Project
There are more than 1,000 projects and events happening around the state celebrating Indiana's 200th birthday. With all the statewide marketing of the bicentennial, it may be tempting to take an "if you build it, they will come" attitude. However, it would be a shame for a great project or event to be less successful than possible simply due to marketing. So, here are a few tips and tricks to help market your Bicentennial happenings.
Step One: Clearly identify the audience and reach out directly to them.
- If it is a family event, contact an area mommy blogger who might mention the event on her site or reach out to local schools and home school groups about mentioning it in a parent newsletter.
- If it is a project meant more for those volunteering and participating, then put a call in to the local paper or in the organizational newsletter. Contact local organizations with a similar interests to attract certain types of volunteers, for example: the DAR for day-of volunteers at a genealogy program or the local art teacher/painting group for help on a barn painting project.
- If the aim is a state-wide audience, broaden your net and reach out to the Bicentennial Commission to get it named as a Legacy Project, ensuring inclusion in the project list. For Indiana history organizations, submit the project or event information to Communique Online (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a mention in the online newsletter. Or try partnering with other area events and try to get a spot on local TV or radio to promote a few projects all at once.
Step Two: Use each marketing tool to its best advantage.
- Instagram – start with a picture and then include a website link to full details.
- Twitter – a short and interesting tweet linked to more information can do wonders. Remember to create a hashtag for your event so people can interact while involved or simply use one of the hashtags already associated with the Bicentennial: #indianabicentennial, #inbicentennial, #indiana200, or #indiana2016. You can use hashtags on Instagram too!
- Facebook allows you to provide the more detailed information up front, but make sure to keep it short, sweet and visually appealing.
- Organizational blogs let you include even more detail and maybe even point out what else is going on in the area, someone might choose to make a weekend of it. Consider making it a series, talk about what the event is, then discuss the site (especially mention if there is easy parking as that is so often a hurdle for people considering attendance),or highlight someone involved. People love human interest stories!
- LinkedIn can even be a marketing tool. Think of all the other professionals following your organization and working on similar projects who might want to take some time off and enjoy the hard work of others.
- Fliers are a good way to get out details and you can ask local libraries, grocery stores, and even the newspaper, to make them available. Make sure they are eye catching, not too wordy, and offer a way to get more information if desired.
- Local TV and radio often want snippets of information for short filler between feature stories and during breaks, so provide the most important information and then give the listener a way to find out more.
- Newspapers offer both the ability for lots of information and a simple mention on the calendar page. Perhaps try to get a feature article about the project before (to call volunteers) or after (to show the results). If it is an event, try to get the newspaper mention just before the event or on the first day of a multi-day event so you reach anyone making last-minute plans. Additionally, check to see if the local paper is doing a special issue for the Bicentennial and get in early! Do not just rely on a blanket press release, but try to talk to a reporter on the phone and really get them excited about what you are doing.
- Newsletters allow the same opportunities as the newspaper but to a more targeted audience. Do not forget to contact newsletter editors of similar organizations whose readers might find what you are doing interesting. Perhaps do an "all about the Bicentennial" issue for your own organization and offer to mention other local happenings in exchange for a mention of your program in their newsletter.
Regardless of your audience or marketing avenue, remember to focus on what makes your event unique. Get people excited and then do not let them forget about it. Do an initial marketing push a few months out to get it on people's calendars, then ramp up the amount of times and number of places you talk about the event as it gets closer, making a big push the week or two before to get people when they are finalizing weekend plans.
And do not forget to include a "call to action." Some of the best event marketing asks prospective attendees to do something at the end of the marketing plug from RSVPing or buying tickets if the event requires, to simply marking their calendar so they do not forget.
So, in the spirit of the moment ... mark your calendars to market your program!
Karen DePauw is the coordinator of Local History Services. Her delight in logic puzzles comes in handy when it is time to book traveling exhibitions and organize other aspects of what LHS has to offer. But she mostly loves seeing the artifacts and meeting those telling Indiana's story, plus the opportunity to get out of the office and see the state is always welcome!