7. Communications

Effective communications from start to finish will guarantee the best results for your event.

In the planning stages, identifying interested persons, stakeholders, and communicating with them by various means will provide a firm foundation, see 1.3 Getting people involved.

By keeping everyone informed as you proceed, and listening to their ideas and concerns, you can avoid trouble down the track. Finally, you need to promote your event, and on the big day, everyone involved needs to know what's going on and who is responsible for what. Electronic communications, including email and the Internet, provide opportunities for new and highly effective communications.

7.1 Information Sheets

General

It is convenient to have numerous copies of a general information sheet to be distributed to anyone requesting or needing information, and post on your website if you have one. This information includes:

  • date of event
  • times of event
  • venue name and address
  • site map showing
    • the position of the stage and stalls
    • access to the venue and parking
    • position of toilets, bins, changing tents etc.
    • equipment storage (if workers need to know this)
    • information point
    • first aid
    • public toilets
  • key features eg. amusements, ATM, first aid, police etc.
  • event organisers and contact numbers
  • a contact name and mobile phone number that can be used on the day

Specific

Other information sheets are specific to different people participating in the event. These include:

  • For performers, a running sheet which includes the following information:
    • location of stage/s
    • relevant staff names and roles eg. Stacey Simpson - Stage Manager
    • points of access for vehicles and parking
    • MC's name & mobile phone number
    • starting and finishing time of each performance
    • any other information relevant about amenities
  • For sound engineers a running sheet and also a stage plan which includes the following information:
    • drawing of the stage and the direction it faces
    • position of microphones
    • position of amplifiers, instruments, speakers etc.
    • position of sound engineer
    • number and position of power outlets
  • For the Stage Manager, a running sheet, stage plan and a contact sheet with names, roles and contact details for the main personnel, contractors and services (eg. event organiser, stage manager, clean-up contractor, electrician, emergency services etc.)

Final details letter

In the week before the event, you should send letters to all participants confirming the final details of the event together with details of their role. These details are to do with the actual arrangements for the day of the event, and could also be posted on your website if you have one. It is essential to include the following information:

  • times for performance
  • bump in and out times
  • sound and lighting checks and stage erection
  • name, address and phone number (if applicable) of the venue
  • site map
  • necessary passes to gain access to working areas
  • names and emergency phone numbers, including the event co-ordinator's contact number for the day
  • procedure in case of cancellation

One or two weeks before the event you should ring up each person involved and check that the phone numbers for suppliers and performers are usable on the day of the event.

Frequent communication creates a close working relationship and encourages your supplier or performer to feel confident in asking for further information. It also allows both parties to anticipate problems well in advance of having to solve them. Get to know people before the event. You may have to rely on the personal relationship you have built up if things do not go according to plan on the day.

7.2 Using The Media

The key features of any publicity campaign that includes the media are the Media Release and the Media Kit.

Media Releases

A media release is an announcement about your event with a bit of 'whizz and bang' in its composition.
You will need to include the following information:

  • What is the event about?
  • When is it on?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it being held?
  • Why is it on?

Draw attention to any special or unusual features of the event. For example, is it the first event for your community?; Are there special activities within the event?; Are there any special guests/performers?

Always credit your main sponsor/s. Include a quote from the event organiser or Chief Executive Officer, and perhaps the sponsor if appropriate.

Basic Rules for Media Releases

  1. Give your media release a title
  2. Keep the body of information short (max 1 page)
  3. Type on one side of the paper.
  4. Keep paragraphs short.  The first paragraph should clearly indicate WHAT the press release is about, then make sure you cover the basics of WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY.  Check the spelling and grammar in your media release. Some publications will rewrite them, some won't, but initially no-one will have as much information about your event to compose from as your own organisation.
  5. Be objective when re-reading your media release. Ask yourself, does the tone of your press release say "so what?" If it does, throw it away and start again.
  6. Meet deadlines. If a deadline is midday Friday, then get the copy in on Thursday.
  7. Always put a contact name and telephone number at the end of the release, including after hours numbers.
  8. Advise if photo opportunities are available for press, or filming for TV, or if you have photos/footage available.

If you have an extended publicity campaign then you will need to have several media releases during this time. Encourage your local newspaper to have an event lift-out or event edition of the paper.

Media Kits

A media kit contains several media releases and may also include photos, information about the program and information on sponsors.

The media kit should also include several story angles. For example, special guests, unusual performances.
Media kits should be sent out to the editors of all papers, local and metro as appropriate, and any industry-specific publications such as 'What's On' guides etc., magazines, radio stations and TV stations. Try to address them to the correct people if you can and if you don't have specific names, send them to the editor of a publication or to the producer of a programme.

Photographs

Photographs for media kits should preferably be high contrast, 8" x 10" black and white or colour photos.

A good photograph is more likely to get into the newspaper.  Before the event, get photos of artists or performers or high profile personalities associated with your event.

Suggestion:

If you can't get a good photo from any of these people you may be able to create a photo session by calling some of the event participants together and getting a professional photographer to take photos of them in costume, at one of the event venues or at a rehearsal or pre-event activity. You may have to pay the photographer and the performers for their time involved in attending a photo session.

Contacting the Media

Gauge the scale of your media release to the size of your event. A local event designed to attract 200-300 people does not warrant 15 media kits about it sent to major media groups.

Focus on the bigger media publications and organisations if your event is bigger. Send information and storylines about local performers to the respective local papers.
For smaller events, make up a general media release and mention that other story angles and photos are available. Provide contact details.
Consider sending your media release to:

Hawkesbury Community Radio
  • Ethnic community TV programmes and radio shows
  • Community and school newsletters in the local area

Remember:

The press generally will not come to you!

Allow plenty of time for contacting the media - keep in mind that some publications (such as monthly magazines) have deadlines that are several months before the publication comes out.

Make individual contact with the right person at each media source or publication office that you wish to use.

If possible meet with those people individually and develop a working rapport.

Find out when the deadlines are to get information to each media source and find out what each media source needs and when.

Tailor your media releases to the sort of material the publication wants (eg. serious journalism, fashionable society articles, or community news.)

Then send out your media releases and follow them up with a phone call.

As new aspects of your event present story opportunities, resend your write-up of these stories.

Local Newspaper Details

Hawkesbury Gazette: (02) 4588 0880
Hawkesbury Courier: (02) 4588 0880
Hawkesbury District The Independent: (02) 45885055
Hawkesbury Way: (02) 4572 2336

Local Radio Details

Hawkesbury Radio 89.9fm: (02) 4577 5662

Paid Radio and Newspaper Advertising

If your budget allows, paid media advertising is a very effective way of marketing to your target audience.  The cost of placing the advertisement may be met by a local radio station or newspaper through sponsorship of the event.  If you buy a certain amount of advertising space, or sell it to local businesses who support your event, then you may be able to negotiate an equivalent amount of copy space where you can go into detail about your event programme, key events or performances.

Free Media Listings

Make sure your event is included in registers of events and in free entertainment listings in newspapers. These include 'What's On' publications distributed in tourist centres and shopping malls, free listings in local and national newspapers, and gig guides in community and other special interest magazines as well as community newsletters.

There is also a growing number of online directories offering free listings eg. www.artfiles.com.au

Radio Announcements

Many radio stations have a Community Noticeboard segment in their programming, where short factual bulletins about local activities and community events are announced.  Approximately one week's notice is required.  Post or fax your media release or a brief synopsis with the important details of the event.

7.3 Community Languages

Will your community know about the event through promotional material in their own language?  If not how will they know and how will you involve them? Nepean Migrant Access Inc provides information for non-English speaking residents and service providers.  For more information www.nma.org.au Phone: (02) 9833 2416.

7.4 Printed Publicity Material

Newsletters

Send newsletters to the target audience with progress reports on the event planning, programme information etc. You may produce a regular event newsletter to be sent to everyone on the mailing list. You may also be able to have an insert in other regular newsletters or a local newspaper.

Flyers

Flyers can be produced and distributed relatively cheaply and easily. They may be photocopies or printed, depending on your budget. They can also be useful to hand out to people after speaking to groups, potential sponsors, or at markets, other events etc. NB. It is illegal to put flyers under the windscreen wipers of parked cars.

Event Program

If you have an event programme that can be printed in advance and widely distributed, it will give people a definite idea of what is happening and when. It will also allow people time to plan to take in aspects of the event that appeal to them. Try to get this printed in local papers.

Mail outs

Develop a mailing list.  For lists of community groups, clubs, church groups etc, the Community Directory is available through Hawkesbury City Council Library Services on council website. The purpose of this directory is to collect and make available information on community based clubs, associations, professional organisations, and support groups in the Hawkesbury.

Letterbox drops

If you need to distribute advertising material, or letters informing residents of an event that may affect them, consider a letterbox drop. You can either organise this yourself or pay to have it done through Australia Post - phone the unaddressed mail service team on 1300 223 571 or visit http://auspost.com.au/products-and-services/post-guides.html.

Advertising Leaflets

Speak to local businesses about including event information on their regular flyers, menus etc. as part of their sponsorship package.

Advertising leaflets can be placed in mailboxes or under a door.  They are not able to be left on cars, in public places or open private places resulting in causing someone to litter.  For an outline of the litter laws see this website http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au.

Letterhead

Create an event letterhead, if budget allows, to develop a visual image of the event every time you send a letter. You can also provide profile for major sponsors on a special letterhead by including their logo as well, either along the bottom of the page or down the sides.

Distribution points for brochures and leaflets

  1. Where will you leave brochures and leaflets to gain the maximum exposure?
  2. Which of these is most effective for you?
  • shops/shopping centre
  • local libraries
  • door to door
  • local gyms
  • cafes
  • laundrettes
  • T.A.B.
  • local supermarkets
  • churches
  • local businesses
  • communal areas in flats
  • community centres
  • schools

Some printers will distribute as well.

Posters

There are a number of options when it comes to using posters to advertise your event. Posters should:

  • attract attention
  • contain the main event information - time, date, place
  • give some indication of what the event is about
  • credit major sponsors and the organiser of the event

Posters need to be placed in areas where they are highly visible.  When putting posters up in shops, on noticeboards and so on, observe the rules of poster etiquette: ask for permission first, and only remove or paste over posters of events that have already taken place.

7.5 Banners

Street banners can be very impressive but they are nearly always commercially produced and there are very specific requirements for the size, structure and look of the banner, which make them quite a costly item, both to make and to install.

Horizontal banners, usually 5 metres long, may be erected on specially designed banner poles at Ham Common, Clarendon; Bells Line of Road/Terrace Road, North Richmond and Pitt Town/Windsor Roads, McGraths Hill. Conditions:

Banner Policy

Bookings will be accepted no earlier than six months prior to an event for one banner at two locations only, to allow maximum use of available space by the community.

Permission is to be obtained by written application with a $16 application fee.

Banners may only be erected for a maximum 2 week period.

A $30 refundable deposit is required for the key to the poles as banners are to be erected by the applicant.

Applicants must provide evidence of Public Liability Insurance.

Applicants must be advertising a broad based community event or an approved purpose.

Bear in mind that banners are seen from a long distance and must be very clear, uncluttered and legible. Council may provide banners as part of sponsorship of your event, or there are local manufacturers (look in the Yellow Pages under "Flags, Pennants & Banners" and also "Signwriters".)

Vertical banners are able to be displayed on electricity poles upon approval from integral energy. An administration fee will be charged for displaying banners on these poles. Applicants must organise the banners to be erected by an Authorised Person approved by integral energy. There are regulations with regards to what can be displayed, with no commercial advertising advisable. Integral energy can provide a guide which explains the regulations with regard to placing signage on these poles. For more information please contact Integral energy on 131081 or Peter Watson at Integral Energy on (02) 9835 6637.

Integral Energy Requirements

Vertical banners are able to be displayed on electricity poles upon approval from integral energy.  An administration fee will be charged for displaying banners on these poles.  Applicants must organise the banners to be erected by an Authorised Person approved by integral energy.  There are regulations with regards to what can be displayed, with no commercial advertising advisable. Integral energy can provide a guide which explains the regulations with regard to placing signage on these poles.  For more information please contact Integral energy on 131 081 or Peter Watson at Integral Energy on (02) 9835 6637

7.6 Other Ways of Getting the Word Out

Word of Mouth

Get people enthused and talking about the event. Never underestimate the value of this powerful method of promotion.  One way of putting word of mouth into effect is the telephone tree.  Get everyone on your committee to ring one person and tell them about the event, and ask that they ring one person, who rings another person, and so it goes.  You can reach an amazing number of people in this way, which also works via email, although there is more chance of the message sinking in if it's done in person.

Launch

This could be a special event or reception for sponsors, committee and all those involved.  Invite the media; make sure you give them plenty of notice and provide something of interest for them to photograph or report on.  Note that even if media reps attend, there is no guarantee of a report being published unless you pay for an advertisement.

Speak to groups

Get yourself invited along to speak to church groups, service groups, school groups, neighbourhood networks and the local business association.  Suggest ways in which they may wish to be involved. Have your presentation well prepared; take slides, copies of promotional material from previous events etc.  The more people that are involved in or know about an event, particularly in the early stages, the better.  They can help to promote the event to other individuals within their organisations, friends and other groups.

Pre-event Activities

Activities that take place prior to your event can be used for publicity, fund raising and to whip up enthusiasm.  These activities could take the form of raffles, discos, a fun run, street theatre or mini performance.  Workshops involving people in making banners or costumes or rehearsals in preparation for a public performance also generate an air of excitement.

Promote your event in prominent places, eg. in the local shopping centre.  Prior to the event, hand out event brochures, balloons etc. or have a special performance to attract people's attention.

Hawkesbury City Council Website

Hawkesbury City Council's website allows community members to list their events in the Council's event calendar.  Events can be added by:

  • On the Home page near the events calendar, select 'Apply to add an event'
  • Select a thumbnail (ie. picture) to represent your event
  • Enter your event details
    • Make sure you click on the green button to add your event description, this will bring up the text box to put in your details.
    • Complete all details about your event.
    • Please ensure that you have listed a contact phone number or email address for people to direct their enquiries.
  • Finally press the Commit button to submit your event for approval.
  • Please be aware that approval can take up to 5 working days, therefore, make sure you allow plenty of time for your event to be listed.

7.7 Suggested Promotions Schedule

Six Months Ahead

  • Develop a public image for the event: Decided on colours, fonts, logos and slogans for the event. A design competition could be held allowing the community to help develop the logo.
  • Develop a design programs, posters, stationary, website and press advertisements.
  • Ensure consistency and efficiency of message by developing these simultaneously. It is important to plan ahead for printing needs and decide distribution methods.
  • Develop a month-to-month media distribution plan.
  • The plan should include media that will be used (local newspapers, radios, etc.) and also what you would like them to publish about the event. Email is a very effective way of distributing information about the event. A newsletter sign up could be included on the website.
  • Plan a media kit: This should include media releases and event details. In the first 3-4 months run with stories that develop as they occur. In the last 3 months prior to the event and post-event, one media release per week
  • Prepares a sponsorship proposal document: This document should include all information about the event including date, time, program of events, how long the event has been running, the location, the origins of the event, who is organising the event, its objectives, what you would like them to sponsor and the benefits that the sponsorship would bring to them.

Five Months Ahead

  • Printing of documents: Posters, programs, advertisements, stationary should be printed to allow for effective distribution.
  • Calendar of event listings: Write a brief outline of the event, including dates, major activities and highlights and publish on websites, newspapers and magazines that have a calendar of events.
  • Distribution of event promotional material: Distribute information about the event to local schools, interest groups, tour companies, visitor centres and accommodation in the area.

Four Months Ahead

  • Develop a VIP guest list: Determine the availability of special guests and identities that would like to support the event.
  • Update the media kit: This should be updated to include a combination of event information and media profiles and could include information about local attractions to encourage visitors to stay and explore the local area further.  Develop a media releases that invites current, past and future residents to attend the event.

Three Months Ahead

  • Arrange to talk to local associations and special interest groups: Talk to local associations and interest groups to gain their support and involvement in the event.  If volunteers are needed ask for their assistance.

Two Months Ahead

  • Invite media to event: Develop a list of relevant media and invite them to attend the event.  Identify individuals or groups that could be interviewed by the media to promote the event.
  • Intensify media campaign: Increase promotion of event to raise awareness of the event and encourage people to attend.
  • Update locals on event details: Update local schools, interest groups, tour companies, visitor centres and accommodation in the area about the details of the event.

One Months Ahead

  • Send media releases: Send media releases to decided media targets with a focus on the main attraction of the event to attract event-goers.

Three Weeks Ahead

  • Distribute a programme of activities: Programme of activities should be distributed and sent to all entertainers, media, sponsors and other contacts.

Two Weeks Before

  • Send media releases: Send out another media release (this will appear one week before the event).
  • Erect promotional posters and banners
  • Council banner poles are able to be erected 2 weeks prior to the event.

One Week Before

  • Set up an information booth or events board: Set up an information booth or an events board in a prominent public place to provide information about the event.  For instance, the local shopping centre.
  • Erect promotional posters and banners: Check that signs, banners, bunting all in place.
  • Check RSVP list: Check whether VIPs and media are able to attend the event and organise media to review event if appropriate.
  • Send media releases: Send out another media release.

After the Event

  • Seek follow up publicity: Evaluate media articles and reviews published about the event.  Fax stories to media immediately after the event and send photos to those who can print your story.
  • Research community reaction: Ask the community to evaluate the event to allow improvements to be made in future years.
  • Undertake a debrief: Debrief with organisers about what went right and what didn't work
  • Send thank you letters: These should be sent to sponsors/partners, media, participants, volunteers, VIPs etc.

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