Whoever coined the phrase “there is no FREE lunch” (or should I say “no FREE promotion”), must never have worked on a festival or event committee! Getting FREE publicity or promotion is fairly easy. Getting a lot of the “right” kind of FREE publicity is an art! However, in order to get this type of FREE publicity, you have to offer something in return. Not money, but something of value. So, in a sense, the phrase may not be wrong after all!
To get the best kind of free promotion or publicity, festival organizers have to determine what is special about their event and who it might appeal to. The list should be long and detailed. Once that list has been completed, an additional list should be developed with the names of people and corporations who would benefit from the event. The list would likely include doctors, dentists, lawyers and businesses (local, regional and national). It is all easy so far, right? With the “lists” completed, this is where the “art” comes in! You have to figure out what you can offer to get the maximum return, money, free merchandise, advertising, etc. All potential sponsors and donors have their own agenda. They are going to give your event something only if they perceive that they are getting value.
The more value, the greater the contribution! If you are wondering what this means, take a look at the way NASCAR works with its sponsors… maximum exposure! You may not be interested in stock car racing, but a study of NASCAR is a study of the “Art of Promotion”! Everything that NASCAR does, the race tracks, the drivers, the car owners, the crew chiefs, the crew and the TV and radio stations all work together to promote their sponsors. As a result companies spend millions of dollars.
This is a lesson that all festival and event organizers should learn and use. Working with media (newspapers, magazines, radio stations and TV) is the same. What makes them tick? What do they need to promote your event? Find out and the “promotional kingdom” is yours! You cannot take, take, take and not give back! If you keep these thoughts in mind, promoting and publicizing your event for FREE will be “easy” and “artful”!