Or, how to help me help you.
I manage two guild websites. Both sites have a Coming Events page.
I also do publicity for three guilds, so I’ve sat on both sides of the desk, and seen a wide variety of requirements.
Like all communication, you need to think like your audience. Give the editor exactly what she needs, and it will take her five minutes to do exactly what you want. If you don’t give us what we need, we can’t do what you want, and that frustrates us. Do you really want to frustrate the person who is giving you free advertising?
First, bother to get a copy of the paper. How many words do they have per group? Do they have a standard format?
Most coming events pages are calendars.
Make it easy for them to find the date and strip it from your paragraph.
Most have room for 50 words. Start with a 30-word paragraph with all the important information. Date, time, even name, group name, location, cost, contact. That leaves about 5 words for “internationally-known” and “join us!”
If you have a website, then the email address is optional. (Your website has your email on it, right?) Phone number is not optional. I get many calls from people who want the human touch. First name for the contact is friendly, but optional.
The editor can cut and paste those 50 words and think you’re an easy group to work with.
I advertise successfully in two papers with a 15-word limit. How? I’m one of the few people who send them 13-word ads.
But your event is so interesting that you need more words!
Include names. “Cricket, my famous friend from college is helping us run a concert!” Great, but no one will know who he is unless tell us. (There might even be room for a name in the first paragraph. )
Look at the paper. Do they make exceptions for anyone else? If not, don’t expect them to make an exception for you.
However, it’s still a good idea to send newspapers and radio stations extra information, and send it early. If they have extra space to fill, they can turn your event into a short article. If they have a slow news day or bored videographer, they’ll remember this event, hosted by people who are easy to work with.
Most websites are calendars with extra features.
All the above advice holds. 50 words of the important stuff. Optional information in separate paragraphs.
Even if the site can use a picture of the poster, give them the words separately. Many editors have a form. It’s easier for them to cut and paste text than to type from a picture. Also, the picture on the site is usually too small to be read. Yes, the reader can click to enlarge it, but you need to entice them first.
A word about links: If you give me the links, I will put them in and activate them. If you don’t, I can’t. Also, spell out the links separately. Sometimes email mangles hidden text. If the link to your event is long, include a second, shorter link to your main site. Newspaper readers can type in the short link and search your site. Online readers can click and get to the event page immediately.
Most meetings are busy.
If I can print I can print a single page poster off my black-and-white printer and hold it up at the meeting, I will. I’ll even read a few of the words on it.
Then I’ll put it on the “interesting things” table and people can look at it during the break.
Second choice is a letter. If I can mindlessly read 50 words, I will. I’ll even read them slowly and with interest, and members will chime in, “I went last year. It was great!”
50 words. Sound familiar? May as well send the meeting the same paragraph that you sent the newspapers and websites.
I cannot hold up a multi-page printout of a website. Nor can I condense an entire page of text into a minute. (One minute is 100 words.) Nor will I do both poster and text.
There’s no substitute for looking at the paper or website yourself and giving them what they need.
If they are kind enough to have guidelines, use them!
However, if you don’t have time to do the research, you’ll get good results by sending them 50 words, a poster they can print or put up, links, and extra information they can use if they have room.
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