There are many different ways to publicise an event that are either free or cheap, and very easy.
We asked local UNAs across the UK what they did to get the word out and encourage people to come to their events. Below are some of their answers, along with a few tips of our own, and links to key resources. You don't need to do everything that's mentioned here, but before you begin there are three things that definitely shouldn't be missed.
Before you begin
1) Reach people through UNA-UK's own website
Local UNAs can advertise their events on UNA-UK's online events calendar. With our website receiving over 10,000 visits each month, this instantly opens up your event to a much wider audience and it's very easy to add your event.
2) Use your local UNA mailing list
All local UNAs receive regular updates which list UNA members who live in their area. This list is a great resource for contacting those who have already expressed an interest in the kinds of activities that you might undertake, and an event is a great opportunity to get them involved. Most local UNAs also keep a record of people who have attended previous events - inviting these people is a no-brainer!
Online circulation list
Email lists provide one of the easiest and most popular ways of connecting with people. A range of free mailing list resources is available online. Most providers charge for enhanced features but offer basic services for free. Using a mailing list provider allows individuals to subscribe to newsletters and enables you to contact them with invitations and other information at the click of a button.
Printing an eye-catching flyer can be a good way of advertising an event in your local community. It is likely to be cheaper than a newspaper advert and has the potential to reach the same number of people. Posters and promotional material can often be displayed for little or at no cost in post offices, GP surgeries, libraries, shop windows, sports clubs and leisure centres, village halls, village newsletters, other club or society newsletters (Scouts for example), schools (letters, newsletters, assembly talks or displays), council offices, and supermarket community notice boards.
Full-colour flyers easily grab attention but black and white can be equally effective (and cheaper) if done well.
Forming good relationships with contacts at your local newspaper can open up a range of opportunities to promote your local UNA's events. Editors and journalists look for stories that they think will interest local readers, so think about ways in which your activities might link to your own communities and global current affairs, and highlight them in your communications. Remember that papers have limited space, so keep contributions concise and relevant.
By far the simplest way of raising issues is through the letters column, but there is always a greater chance of getting your letter published if it somehow connects with your paper's interests or a local agenda. Another way of getting publicity on a specific issue is by submitting a news article.
Submitting news items for publication is typically done in the form of a press release. Advice on writing effectively in this format can be found at journalist.co.uk. One of the keys here is persistance; if at first you don't succeed, don't take it personally and try, try, try again.
You can find out which local papers serve your area by searching 'Hold the front page' or 'Newspapers in the UK'.
Local radio stations are always on the look out for ways to connect with the community to which they broadcast. As with newspapers, you are most likely to be featured if your event is innovative, inspiring and of interest. Some radio stations broadcat on-air, but many more broadcast across across the internet.
Building good relationships with local media can provide opportunities for telling your story and promoting future events. However, being interviewed on radio and getting your point across is a skill in itself. For tips on how to approach this, you might like to use this Marketing Donut resource page.
Did you know that the BBC will advertise news and events run by local non-profit organisations for free on your local BBC news website? You can register for this service by clicking here, selecting your local area and then going to the 'Things to do' section.
Online publicity can be very effective in reaching people who are specifically searching for the kinds of event you might run. There are many different websites that specialise in providing advertising space for organisations to publicise news and events. Many of these are also free, so you have little to lose – even large organisations like the Eden Project use these sites. One such site is ChooseYourEvent.co.uk. You can find many others via a quick Google search.
Your own website
As well as using the UNA-UK or other websites to advertise your events, some local UNAs have created their own websites. The advantage of a website is that it can say so much more than can be expressed in the limited space of an advert or press release. As well as promoting your upcoming events, you can communicate the wider interests and work of the branch, tell your stories and relay your particular values and concerns.
The good news is that creating your own website does not need to be complicated. There are lots of companies that will help you achieve this in just a few simple steps, and many are free. A number of our local UNAs (Edinburgh and Streatham & Clapham, for example) have chosen to use Wordpress, but there are many more you could choose from.
For many, connecting with each other through the use of social media – especially Facebook and Twitter – is second nature. It's interactive, dynamic and your news can spread quickly.
Social media sites have some good help pages that will guide you through setting up and using an account (which is usually free). The links below will be especially helpful if you're new to social media or using it to promote an event for the first time.
- How to use Facebook
- How to use Twitter
- How non-profit organisations can use Facebook
- Tips for non-profits using Facebook
- How to create a Facebook page in 5 easy steps
- Promoting causes on Facebook
- Using Facebook to reach the people that matter
- Using social media to promote an event
We hope this brief guide is useful. If you've got any ideas on event promotion that we haven't featured then please do let us know.
Other pages in this guide: