Telling Your Story
Your project is a great story. Why would you be doing it if it wasn’t worth the trouble?Letting people know about your project is important. What’s the point of having the best event in the world if no one knows about it?
Before the age of the Internet and social media, a general guide was to use 10% of your budget for publicity/marketing/branding – telling your story. If your target market uses new media, you may be able to reach people more cheaply.
To carry out a good awareness campaign takes time. Plan for this. How can you tell your story and pass on the good news?
More people read local newspapers than nationals. They are a good way to reach local audiences. Press coverage is free if the publisher writes a story about you, so you get editorial coverage rather than have to pay for an advert (you may decide it is also worth paying for an eye-catching advert to strengthen/amplify the article). They may do this after interviewing you or after receiving a press release from you. A press release is a story written by you and sent to the editor. Press releases are the safest way to ensure your message is told in the way you want. Misunderstandings in an interview or different emphasis created by a journalist can distort what you want to say.
Press releases should be about 300 words. Editors generally cut from the bottom up so get your message into the first paragraph using the 5 ‘W’s rule – Who, What, When, Why and Where. For the editor, put your contact details (and those of other partners if they could give more information) at the bottom and when you want the article published e.g. ‘For immediate release’ or ‘Embargoed until 21 March 2013’.
Try to use some quotes from people involved so that enthusiasm and personal touches can be shown to readers. This will warm and excite the story.
You may want magazines to tell your story. Find out when they want information so that you get it to them in good time, for the edition you want. They may publish once a month or even less frequently, so make sure you have your press information planned well in advance.
A really good contemporary piece of advice about press releases has been written by SARAH SKERIK. It makes full use of links to social media, images and strory telling. She says, “The content and structure of press releases have a far greater influence on the visibility of the message, and as competition for attention increases, the formula for a successful press release is changing. Here are some ways to freshen the news releases your organisation publishes, and get more results for your campaigns.”
Having a website as a promoter, or an organisation running events is an important way to keep people aware what you are doing. Your website is the place where you can tell your story in its fullest form, using text, video, audio, photos and has the ability to be designed and navigated to attract and lead viewers to what you want to say. It is important to keep it up to date. All other campaign tools can direct people to your website so you can tell your story in full.
The Internet is becoming increasingly important. Half of public relations is about getting other people to repeat your messages. Social media is a great way to do this. Create content and experiences that people will want to share, then use a mix of digital tools to ‘amplify’ them across all media to support your campaigns. Be friendly, fun and interactive. Tell your story through a website and use the variety of social media sites available – they are generally free. Scroll down this list of services to see what is available.
You can refer to a detailed story e.g. on your website, blog or video through shorter sound bites and links on e.g. Twitter or Facebook. Lead people to where you want them to go by cross-linking information.
Remember – if you are doing more than a one off event and you want to be known as a promoter, its not all about you and what you put on. You need to become part of an online community with mutual interests. In a blog ‘Voluntary sector marketing myths‘ Zoe Amar says, “You won’t reap the full benefits of social media unless you use it to have conversations with your stakeholders. This is particularly true of Twitter. Social media expert Kirsty Marrins advises charities to follow the “rule of thirds”, ie one third of your tweets should be used to push out your charity’s content, one third to engage in conversations, and one third to share content from other useful sources.”
SoundDelivery have written fantastic guides on using social media for campaigns and marketing. See their Social Media Handbook The handbook was originally written for organisations supporting families, but the principles are good for all campaigns. The useful bits are from page 5 onwards.
Also see the blog A beginner’s guide… to sharing content online using 5 really useful websites by Rebeka Haigh on the Youth Music network site.
Some examples of tips:
- Use photos in Facebook posts – no more than 10 in an album. If you want to show more, use Flickr, an image and video hosting site.
- YouTube – make 2-4 minute videos to tell a story. Plan your story before filming.
- Twitter – allowed 140 characters but try to use 120 or less (this allows retweeters to add on a little extra information or @somene to your message). Twitter automatically shortens web addresses to 20 characters – a web link in your tweet can expand your story.
- Audio Boo – Record a message or an interview and add photos and links. People can listen to an interview while looking at photos and reading a little background information.
- Hootsuite – links all your social media sites and can schedule times to post things, so you can co-ordinate a media campaign in advance, before it’s launch and prepare tweets etc for times people are most likely to look at them.
- Blogging – opinion pieces, behind the scenes, what’s happening. They give more information than Facebook or Twitter. Lots of tips about blogging can be found on these links: basic blogging and blogging resources.
- Blog a maximum of 500 words – you want the blog on one page. People can comment on blogs. Ask questions to create interaction.
- Update blogs about once a week. Blogs are archived and you can tag words to link to other blogs and websites. All the blue words in this article/blog, and throughout B Sharp’s Resources website, are tagged to take you to more information if you click on them.
- Find blogs with Google blog search.
- You can use Google alert to find out what’s being said about you – keeping you aware of how your brand is doing.
- You can shorten web addresses using services such as bitly.com. Bitly also monitors how many people use the link, so you can measure how effective your campaign is.
Other useful guides are:
When publicising an event/campaign/service, try to use at least 10 ways to tell your story (or ‘amplify’ your story) e.g. a mix of press releases, posters, facebook, Twitter, Audio Boo, YouTube, blogs with e.g. Tumblr, e-mail, mobile texts, word of mouth, newsletters, partnership networks, merchandising with a message (T-shirts/mugs/pens etc), sandwich/blackboards, publicity stunts.
Quick Response Codes
If you have a website, always have its address on any publicity material. On posters and adverts, use QR (Quick Response) bar codes for smart phones to link people immediately to your website and/or social network sites. This example takes you to B Sharp’s main website:
There are many free QR generators to choose from. Your website has the fullest capacity to tell your story, keep people updated and be a point of contact. Regularly review your website and keep it up to date.
Creating good content in the various media you use is important. It should be relevant to the people you are targeting. What is it you are offering that they want? What are they going to get out of it? Concentrate on the product/service/event you are offering and not yourself and how good you or your organisation is. Fun, quirky and memorable content will motivate people to share and help spread your message and brand. Think about ways your customers and others can help promote your project and encourage this.
A comprehensive guide to creating content can be found in the document ‘The Advanced Guide To Content Marketing‘ by Quicksprout.
- A content strategy should focus on existing customers as well as prospects. Content marketing is a great tool to create brand affinity but can also be powerful in building a new audience of potential customers.
- An amplification strategy should be a key tactic in a content strategy. Once the content is created, search and social networks can be used to distribute, but you should also make sure to distribute it out to others who may not know it exists. Intent is not created in a search box.
- Invest in the appropriate resources to meet your objectives.
- Stay honest and true to the brand
Anything you give away can be used to capture data about your customers e.g. by asking for contact details as a condition of the gift, so you can reach them in future campaigns.
You can build data bases of customers using social networks. If you are a musician selling your music, you could offer a reward such as a free music download on e.g on Soundcloud if people join your Facebook page. They are unlikely to leave it, and later on you can promote tracks you are selling, publicise gigs and other news to your new facebook fans.
If you were promoting a band, why not try to get trend setters or ‘influencers’ on board – journalists, bloggers etc who are recognized influencers? Send samples of music, invites to gigs etc. If they start to relay your messages there is less pressure on just you to get your message out, and it’s less likely you’ll be seen as a nuisance constantly broadcasting your own agenda and business.
How to become an online influencer is a useful blog with 10 handy tips.
To find the list and links to all B Sharp’s posts about event and project planning, go here: Ideas into Action
Links to other music resources, compiled by B Sharp, can be found here. Particularly relevant to publicity is the page Links for Music Promotion, Marketing & Getting Heard.