By Caledonia Skytower
Part Two: The Basics – Who? What? Where? When? How?
When promoting any event, you will need to create text and images to aid you in your efforts to attract interested people to your event or venue – to spread the word. It does not matter whether it is posting or a poster, these five basics should always be front and centre: Who? What? Where? When? followed closely by How?
You have a finger’s snap worth of time to catch someone’s attention. If a potential participant looks at your material and cannot answer the first four of those five questions in less than 15 seconds, you have lost them. If you want to attract an audience, people beyond your friends list, don’t make it hard for them. Forget the catchy subtitles, or the extensive explanations. Distil the essential details into quick bites, simple phrases, and make them prominent. The other information is just that: “other.” Once someone’s attention is caught, THEN you can dazzle them with your witty descriptive prose and all the cool people who are making things happen.
Who and What. The “What” is the number one single most important detail, and should be the first thing people notice. It should be concise and precise: Is it music? Is it live? Is it a DJ? Is it Theatre? Dance? Poetry? Literature? Gallery exhibition? Fund-raiser? “Keep it simple.” If you are in doubt, say the words to yourself out loud, “keep it simple!”
It is easy to mistake “Who” as an invitation to laundry list everyone involved. DON’T. Name the venue, the group behind it, the sponsor; or if none of those apply, don’t put anything at all. Those people who might get prickly because their name did not get on the poster as someone who is a part of it are not thinking about how successful your event is going to be, they are thinking about the glamour of being on the poster. If they really were invested on the success of your event, they’d be happily distributing your poster and inviting everyone on their friends list to come instead of wheezing about poster details.
“Who” is always secondary to “What.” “What” rules. “What” is supreme.
Examples (with “What” underlined) :
- Seamus’ Pub brings you DJ Liam McNarry
- Seanchai Library presents “Tales of Despereaux”
- Paul Barkley Live, in Concert at the Whoo Doo Lounge
When you have a “Who” that is a specific group or venue, and your operations are on-going (you produce more than one event – ever) then “Who” becomes a critical part of building your audience long-term. If you produce successful events, you want people to know that it is you behind this one. You want them to see your “Who” and say, “They do great stuff. I might go to that.” So while “What” is always supreme, do not forget “Who” and attach it as closely as you can. Your objective is for people to think of them together, even though they are two distinct questions.
Where & When. Be specific with your date and time. Be aware that you are trying to recruit an audience from all over the world – different time zones. So it is important to be clear.
Don’t assume, as many people do, that everyone thinks about virtual events in SLT (Second Life Time). True, Linden Labs designated SLT as a means of coming up with a uniform time rubric for the entire grid. However, there are those who still stubbornly stick to the central references used in other world endeavours such as GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). You can’t please everyone. Pick a time zone identifier that is going to be easy for the greatest amount of your audience, existing and potential, to interpret, Stick with it and indicate it clearly. Don’t get all fancy by listing an array of times in different zones; you’ll just confuse people. Everyone does time maths in Second Life: those outside Pacific time do the maths, and I assure you that those of us who live in Pacific time do the maths when planning for our friends around the world.
Sometimes “Where” will overlap with “Who.” As long as you are conscious of that, and you have answered the question effectively, you are good. There’s no need to duplicate.
Be sure that you liberally make available either the landmark or the grid address (SLurl) of the place where your event will be taking place. Pass it out like holiday candy that you bought on clearance. Most recently I have been including both landmarks and SLurls, whenever possible, to my in-world communication. Some of the more specialised Third-Party Viewers (like Radegast) deal with location information in different ways to meet the special needs of their users.
Bottom line: everywhere that your “What” is, there your “When” and “Where” should be too; quick and easy to access. (calendar, blog, Facebook, Google+, notecard, poster – everywhere!) Do no assume!
How. This is a little different from the other four. “How” is an opportunity. It is a place for you to make other information and details available. This can come in the form of a url link to your website, and informational notecard. If you don’t have a website, it is easier than ever to make one using WordPress or Google’s Blogger. You just need an email account to create one. Making a web-based information page makes it easy for people to get more details, and becomes the central place for you to update that information.
It is a trite and true maxim in sales, going back to the beginning of time, that you should “always be selling.” Likewise, you should always leave people knowing how they can get more: ticket prices and purchase locations, musicians and DJ’s gig calendars, additional details about who is involved in your event and what it is all about (those catchy phrases and laundry lists belong there, not on your poster or at the top of your notecard). At the very least, give people a contact for questions.
Managing that “How” paid off for me in the last few months in a very useful way. I got some important feedback from my social media posts involving how I was making my “Where” available. I thought I was going a decent job of it, certainly better than most. That feedback challenged me to rethink that assumption, and to assess whether I was making it hard or easy for people to find my events. I was grateful for the insight.
If you successfully captured people with ” Who? What? Where? When?” then “How” is the important next step to getting them to participate in what you are doing, and perhaps become a long-term supporter. “How” is not simply informational to what you are presenting right now, it is an investment in the next thing that you produce and promote.
NEXT POST: Words matter. So does how you use and share them.
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If You Just Build It… is a multi-part series. To catch up with everything, follow the links below.