Without publicity even the best-planned event will be a failure. On the other hand, a well-publicized event can have positive, far-reaching effects beyond your expectations. Publicity comes in many different forms; choose a combination that works for you. The following are suggestions but we don’t expect you to do it alone! AASG is here to make sure that you can accomplish your goals.
Here are some effective publicity methods:
- Hand out and post flyers in public places
- Make phone calls to people who may be interested
- Contact other school groups (such as student government and other organizations)
- Table or canvass
- Writing letters to the editor or columns in local papers
- Have a newspaper listing in the “events” or calendar section
- Send out a press release
- Hold a press conference
- Make a public service announcement on the radio or on TV
- Give tickets to your event away to a radio station for a free give-away
Things to remember:
- When you disperse information, you often have to take the initiative and approach people.
- Regardless of the setting be respectful and wear appropriate attire — you are representing a larger group.
- It is a good idea to have prepared answers to basic questions such as: “What are you doing?” and “What is this all about?” and “What is the American Anti-Slavery Group?”
- Finally, know that it is illegal to drop leaflets in mailboxes, although you can put them through a letter slot in a door or leave them in door handles or on the doorstep. If you are planning to solicit contributions, check local and state regulations.
Tips for Publicity & Outreach
Posters and leaflets:
- If you are postering at a university or in a public space, be sure to check the rules and regulations beforehand. You may need to get a campus group to provide their stamp of approval before you can poster on campus. Remember to include an event title, time and date of event, location, and contact information.
- Tabling is a good method to raise funds or to publicize a fundraiser and raise awareness in the community. Choose a spot with a lot of pedestrian traffic where people will see you.
- If you know how, set up a webpage for the event or post the event on an existing website such as Myspace or Facebook. If you can, include a volunteer sign-up page and a registration page.
- Create a link between the website and iAbolish.org.
- Contact the American Anti-Slavery Group and tell us what you are going to do. We can help advertise by sending mail to all of our Freedom Action Network members about the event
- During the weeks preceding your event, be sure to call local and student newspapers and radio stations to give them information about your event.
- Advertise in local calendar listings, both online and in newspapers, so that more people will hear about your event.
Writing a Press Release:
- A press release, a short announcement of a newsworthy event, is sent to newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio stations to interest them in doing a story.
- Keep it short. One page is best. Cover the 5 Ws in the first paragraph: who, what, where, when, and why.
- Write a concise, catchy headline that summarizes the story.
- Use the “inverted pyramid” style to write the release: Put the most important facts in the first paragraph and supporting information in descending order, so that the least important information is last.
- Underline the text that gives the location, time, and date of the event.
- You may also want to include photographs, a fact sheet, or a flyer.
- List the name of the “contact person” and try to have someone available to field calls.
Writing an Op-Ed:
One of the best ways to explain your position on an issue is through an op-ed. These lengthy pieces essentially do the same thing as a letter to the editor, but explain your stance on an issue more fully. Be aware that papers may have a strict policy about accepting guest Op-Eds, so consider calling first for information.
Here is an effective format to follow:
- The Attention Grabber: An Op-Ed should always start with an effective grabber/attention getter. Be creative; use humor or current events to catch the reader’s attention.
- The Body: This is essentially your chain of evidence. Address in as clear terms as possible the issue and your position on it.
- Conclusion: Briefly sum up your point in order to make sure that it doesn’t get lost or forgotten after the body of the Op-Ed. This should be an echo and strong reinforcement of the point you made in the beginning and can include a call to action.
- Limit your Op-Ed to 700-750 words; shorter is better. Type and double-space.
Letters to the Editor:
Letters to the editor provide citizens with the opportunity to comment on articles and editorials appearing in their local newspapers, or sometimes to bring up issues not mentioned in the paper. The following tips may help you as you write:
- Letters should be typed and include your name, address and telephone number. Be concise and specific.
- Pieces should rarely exceed one page; try to limit your letter to 100 to 150 words. Pick a topic to focus on and stick with it throughout the letter.
- Keep in mind each paper’s particular guidelines, which are found on the editorial page
Conducting an Interview:
You may be able to do an interview in order to promote your fundraiser, or to talk about it after it is over.
- Contact the station with information about who you are, how the issues you will talk about are current and relevant to the station’s audience and other information on your event.
Holding a Press Conference:
A press conference is most appropriate for an important story that does not lend itself to standard print media and a press release.
Hold a press conference when:
- It is beneficial to the media and serves better than photographs and press releases.
- You have important or newsworthy people available to present your story.
- Experts will be available to answer questions.
- The story involves something that has to be seen to be understood.