Come One, Come All: Leveraging Community-based Events

From fitness expos to art or musical festivals to farmer’s markets … large-scale, community-based events can be an ideal and cost-effective way for communicators to reach thousands of people who might not otherwise hear their message.

We recently had the opportunity to position one of our clients as a key resource for families to connect to children’s mental health services at the NBC4 2016 Washington Health & Fitness Expo, and used several strategies to make the most of the experience.

Major community events are loud, fun, and give your organization the opportunity to make face-to-face connections. Ironically, some of the same characteristics that make these events so vibrant, also make them tricky places in which to engage an audience.

Here are four suggestions for making the most of your chance in front of a big community-based crowd.

  1. Location, Location, Location – This first tip may be the most obvious. Choose an event that’s a natural fit for your organization and its work. Does your organization combat hunger? Your city’s annual food festival may be the place to be.
  2. Use the KISS Principle – When it comes to messaging at large public events, Keep It Short and Simple. Chances are your audience is a moving target. You have just a little bit of their time and plenty of competition for their attention. Even if you snag a spot on the state fair’s main stage, sharing one or two key messages in multiple ways is often your best bet.
  3. Timing is Everything – People are generally more physically and mentally prepared to hear what you have to share within the first few hours of their arrival than when they’ve spent the whole afternoon walking through a gauntlet of booths and exhibits.  While you have no control over when your audience shows up, you can work with event organizers to make sure your content appears early.
  4. Appeal to the Senses – People come to public events because it gives them an experience they can’t get any other way. Whether you offer them the opportunity to ask questions of experts on mental health, try out an innovative gadget or view a compelling exhibit … interactivity will go a long way to reinforce your key message and call your audience to action.