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Promoting your event

Promoting your event

 “Without promotion something terrible happens… Nothing!”

…and with that piece of wisdom from the circus maestro P.T. Barnum, we kick off this blog on taming the lion that is promotion. Get this right and your event will be Big Top rather than Big Flop, so invest some effort into this early on and those punters will step right up without any last minute clowning around. Ok, that’s enough circus jokes now…

You’ll be asked for some ideas of how you’re going to promote what you’re up to if you apply for a Festival of Museums grant, so here are a few ideas and things to consider. We have a Festival of Museums sample marketing plan which will give you advice and ideas to get you started and how to plan your campaign out, but here we’ll be going into more detail.

Over the past decade the ways you can promote have grown dramatically, but not every form of promotion will suit you. Core to successful promotion is your audience profile and your budget, so keep these in mind when planning what channels to use. Remember that there is no event in the world that will appeal to ‘everyone’ – be clear on your target market and use appropriate channels to reach them.

Sales copy

Some call it blurb, some call it event info, but get the content of this wrong and you’ll be fighting a losing battle with all your subsequent activities. The same goes for event titles. You need something snappy, exciting, concise and engaging to capture people’s imagination. For your sales copy, tell them why they should care, what they’re going to experience, and to whom your event is suited (remember your target audience). There is nothing worse than boring sales copy, but boring titles will put people off reading any further. Be sure to put thought into your titles and copy, and don’t be scared to change things if your sales don’t take off.

Print (leaflets, posters etc.)

Consider using a designer, or someone used to working with desktop publishing software – it will show. (In a similar vein, so will using a proper photographer for promo shots). If you’re struggling to afford to produce print materials of your own, use the Festival of Museums templates that we’ll provide – they’ll look professional at a fraction of the cost of a designer. Remember to include dates, times, prices, your logo, our logo, venue, your phone number, your web address, funders’ logos if you need them, charity numbers in your small print…

We’ll be doing a fuller blog on design soon, so look out for that. Also remember to give us an idea of what you plan to do with your printed materials once you’ve created them when you fill out your funding applications. It helps us to know if you’ve thought your marketing through properly and lets us offer advice if we can see any omissions.


Remember to include details of your event in your e-newsletter and also in emails out to your friends groups or other contacts. You could even include information in an email footer which would include details in every email you send.


Please, please, PLEASE remember to include details of the event on your website. This is essential, but you really would not believe how many participants didn’t do this simple thing last year. If it doesn’t appear on your website, potential attendees will assume it’s not happening: it’s really as simple as that. Remember you’re part of the broader Festival of Museums event so use the brand to take advantage of the national campaign. 

‘Word of mouse’

Yup – you guessed it – social media. This reaches a huge audience of people who already like what you do enough to follow you. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or others can not only offer amazing promotion opportunities but you can also involve your followers in the buzz around your event. Ask them for ideas... the internet will usually oblige!

PR, press and broadcast media

Press releases are effective and free to produce. And you can also consider offering a photo opportunity or caption to be more eye-catching. Always remember who else is staging an event in your area – perhaps you can work on a joint press release or picture? If your story is compelling enough local radio or TV might also pick up on it so send information to them as well as print media. Remember we’ll be sending out press releases too, so be sure you liaise with our appointed PR Agency to ensure that you’re not posting similar releases to the same papers at the same time. They will possibly be able to get you greater coverage anyway, so be sure to talk to them: it won’t cost you anything!

Free listings

Every area has free listings (both print and online usually) so do your research and ensure you’re being included. They can also be a way to find out what else is on in your area over the same time.


This can be expensive and you have to consider whether the expense is worth it. Remember that we will be doing national advertising for the entire festival. Make sure you’re signed up for our Festival of Museums e-bulletins as we will tell you where we’ve taken ads as we get closer to the big weekend.

And of course, the result of all this publicity (and the most powerful tool of all) is… word of mouth! Capture people’s imaginations and your event will be the hottest ticket in town. So, hopefully this has sparked some inspiration to start planning your event promotions. Do make sure you check back for our future blogs in this series which will cover income generation, design, ‘on the day’ essentials, and evaluation.

And if you’d like us to cover something we haven’t mentioned already, please give us a call or drop us a line.

Published 24 November 2016