The Yuri’s Night Guide to Promotion and Press Outreach

So you’re setting up an awesome Yuri’s Night party, and you’re looking to spread the word as wide as you can–without breaking the bank to do it. What can you do?

This quick guide is meant to give small-to-medium-sized Yuri’s Night parties some ideas and strategies for how to promote their event on a tight budget. If you’re organizing a huge event, you probably already have a dedicated marketing volunteer or even a PR firm to help out–but we hope you’ll still find this useful!

(PDF version of this guide available for download here.)

Tools to use:

Social media–If your marketing budget is slim to none, social media can be a lifesaver in getting the word out about your event. Creating a Facebook Event for your party is a quick and simple way to let people know the basic details for your event, stay in touch with your party’s attendees, and give people a way for them to share the party with their friends. If you do make a Facebook Event, make sure to keep it updated.

If you don’t have a website for your party, your Event also gives you a place to direct people online. If the venue or organization that’s hosting your event has a large Facebook following, see if they’d be willing to share your event on their Facebook Page. You’ll want to share it with your own Facebook friends too, of course–never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth!

Social advertising–The hardest part about advertising your event, though, is getting the word out to people who aren’t already in your social networks. Advertising on social media (especially Facebook) can really help you tap into that wider audience. Facebook Ads (https://www.facebook.com/ads/) can be targeted to reach very specific audiences; if you’re looking to advertise to people in a specific city, a certain age group, or even people who have certain interests (space exploration, astronomy, etc.), Facebook can send your ad to those people for as little as a few dollars.

When running your ad for the first time, create a few versions of it with different text and images so you can see which is most effective. (Facebook gives you data on how many people see your ad and how many clicks it receives.) Running your ad weeks before your event is good to build word-of-mouth, but if you have some money left over, running it one last time the day before/day of the event can help convince people who’re thinking of showing up at the last minute. Depending on how big your event is and who you’re marketing to, you may want to consider running ads on Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Google AdWords as well.

Mission Control Center–In the final days leading up to Yuri’s Night, hundreds of thousands of people will be visiting the Yuri’s Night website to find out what events are happening near them. Make sure they know how to find your party! When you register your event at Yuri’s Night, you get an account on our Mission Control Center (http://mcc.yurisnight.net) that allows you to put in the location, time, and other details for your event. Your event information gets published in our Party List (unless you make your event private), so make sure you tell us as much about the party as you can! You can always go back and edit your information if things change.

Related organizations–Local astronomy clubs are a great resource and potential partners for your event. Members are already enthusiastic about space exploration and clubs are usually more than happy to find other groups with similar interests. Since Yuri’s Night organizers and attendees are prospective members, the relationship is mutually beneficial. Local clubs might already have relationships with local media and can help you in placing calendar items (see below) or even get feature stories. You can usually find clubs through Google; there’s also a list on Sky and Telescope’s website (http://www.skyandtelescope.com/community/organizations).

Word of mouth–When it comes down to it, though, it’s tough to beat getting in touch with folks directly. Think about who your event’s target audience is, and what groups and networks are in touch with those people. If your event is geared towards college students, for example, reach out to the leaders of space/science-themed clubs on your local campus(es), or the head of the student union. Be proactive, but make sure not to spam people–being too aggressively may reflect negatively on you and your event.

If you’re looking to invite everybody to your party, though, you’ll want to start getting your event in the news, which brings us to the second half of this guide…

Meet(ing) The Press

Yuri’s Night is a fantastic story for your TV station’s evening news, your local newspaper or other news media–who doesn’t love a space party? Because reporters and journalists work under a variety of pressures, though, it’s important to be accommodating when getting your Yuri’s Night party in your local news.

Local News Organizations

First identify all of the news organizations in your community. This could include daily newspapers, TV and radio news bureaus, as well as weekly alternative papers covering  music, the arts and events.

Before making any contact with a local news organization, do as much research as you can about each one. The best place to start is the organization’s web page. These web sites usually include contact information and directions on submitting news items but they rarely tell you everything you need to know.

Research who is covering feature stories (longer stories on events, the arts, food and dining, etc.), education, science and related topics. Also find out how to submit your event to the organization’s events calendar.

For each news organization you should find out:

  • What is the deadline for submitting local news items and events?
  • How do they prefer to receive news releases — by mail, fax or email?
  • What is the phone number or email address for submissions?
  • Should news releases be directed to the attention of a particular individual?
  • If they prefer email submissions, do they want the news release in the body of the email or as an attachment?
  • If the news release is an email attachment, do they prefer a word processing document or a .pdf file?
  • Is there a specific editor or reporter assigned to cover education or fine arts news?
  • Is there a feature editor or reporter assigned to human interest stories?
  • Do they accept photographs or only use those taken by their own photographers?

Most news organizations are glad to provide this information and do it routinely because it makes their jobs easier. Following each organization’s guidelines and preferences will increase your chances of getting coverage.

Writing a Media Advisory

Most news organizations will want information about upcoming events in the form of a media advisory. This covers the basic ‘who / what / where / when / why’ of your event.

At a minimum, your advisory should cover:

  • Who – who are the organizers and who should the media organization contact for more information
  • What – what is Yuri’s Night and what is the nature of your event
  • Where – where are you holding your event
  • When – when are you holding your event
  • Why – to celebrate more than half a century of human exploration of space

Don’t forget to include social media information like a Twitter feed, Facebook event or anything else you set up for your event.

Dos and Don’ts

Do everything you can think of to make reporters’ jobs easier.

Do include contact information – including phone numbers and emails

Do have multiple contact people. In case one contact is unreachable, the reporter should be able to contact someone else.

Do return phone calls and emails from reporters as soon as possible because they may be up against a deadline.

Don’t pester reporters. Their time is valuable.

Don’t forget to follow up with reporters who cover your event. Thank them and promise to get in touch early as you plan for for Yuri’s Night 2015.

Conclusion

Even if you’re on a shoestring budget, there’s still plenty you can do to tell the world (or at least your city) about Yuri’s Night. If you have any questions about promoting your Yuri’s Night event or have information that you’d like to send to Yuri’s Night’s thousands of social media followers, email our Media Team Chair.

Good luck, and Rock The Planet!