Effectively promoting an event is a science; too many organizations presume that their events will be popular and successful, without applying a strategic plan to ensuring so.

So, let’s take an organization that is hosting an event. The first questions should be: why are they hosting it? What business objectives does it achieve? What should be done to generate awareness of the event such that attendees are attracted and motivated?

The first step is to address the purpose of the event. Is the purpose client acquisition, celebratory in nature or educational (or all of these)?

The organization in question is advised to closely determine the types of audiences targeted to attend the event. This will, in turn, influence the selection of the event brand and methods and channels, such that these audiences can be reached. This step of the process requires a degree of analysis and is typically written down in an event brand and campaign plan.

The event should be professionally branded such that it gets noticed and conveys an optimal message to target audiences. In this case, such things as an event logo and microsite may be developed. A microsite also provides potential for attendees to register or pay for the event, if necessary.

Next, there is the creation of online and traditional marketing materials to promote the event. Not surprisingly, social media is often a significant component in this stage.

Now the organization is advised to execute the event marketing plan, so this may involve placing posters, sending e-mails, conducting phone calls, posting on social media or handing out postcards, for example.

At the same time, organizations are advised to develop publicity materials, such as media releases, with an objective of gaining media attention and coverage leading up to the event. If successful, this often leads to the generation of widespread awareness and more interest among target audiences in the event.

Overall, it is important to keep in mind that a creative approach always results in a better outcome.

It doesn’t end there.

In order to gain the most out of an event, organizers are advised to capture imagery from the event that can then be placed on the organization’s website and social media platforms and provided to media contacts. This will educate stakeholders on the nature of the event, notables that attended and any other interesting things that happened.

Furthermore, it is advised that a post-event announcement is provided on the organization’s website, social media and in a media release to provide information as to how the event fared. This can include such information as number of people in attendance, tickets sold, funds raised and so forth.

William Joseph recently designed a strategic event promotion for the Saskatchewan Foster Families Association (SFFA). The organization recently held a gala event to celebrate its 40th Anniversary on June 14, 2014 at the Radisson Saskatoon. The 40th Anniversary Gala was a celebration and also a sincere “thank-you” to foster parents from throughout Saskatchewan for their hard work and dedication in helping to make children’s lives better.

William Joseph aimed to differentiate this event from others taking place in the city at around the same time. We needed to make a mark and attract media coverage through a creative approach.

For this event, WJ developed 40 pieces of artwork that fit together to form one large image. However, SFFA provided one of the forty pieces to a foster family such that a foster child could paint their respective piece. After this was complete, SFFA collected all 40 individual painted pieces, re-assembled the large image using the 40 pieces and unveiled the artwork at the Gala.

As one can imagine, this approach was personal and heartwarming and it really did provide for a meaningful centrepiece for the event. This idea attracted significant media attention, which resulted in more awareness about SFFA and hopefully attracted more families to work SFFA in assisting children in need in the province.

Further, the collective large artwork piece will be displayed at various public facilities for the next year in order to further generate awareness about SFFA and the need for foster parents. After the year is complete, the organization will be auctioning off each individual piece (40 of them in total) and all funds will go to assist this non-profit’s mandate in helping kids in need.

Below, two photos show the artwork unpainted as a collective piece and a sample of the painted pieces that have been returned to SFFA from the foster kids.

THE 40 ART PIECES WHEN PLACED TOGETHER (UNPAINTED)

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SAMPLE OF FINISHED PIECES PAINTED BY SASKATCHEWAN FOSTER CHILDREN

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The success of this event in terms of funds raised, media attention and new families that have become foster parents showcase the importance of a creative approach in marketing an event successfully.