Mobile readyRevised with new information as of June 1, 2017


A free resource for nonprofit organizations, NGOs, civil society organizations,
public sector organizations, and other mission-based agencies

Jayne Cravens, www.coyotecommunications.com


Easy, Effective Ways to Publicize an Event or Activity
in Forest Grove, Cornelius, Gales Creek & Gaston, Oregon
- especially for nonprofit organizations, government agencies
& communities of faith

I live outside of Portland, Oregon (PDX), in Western Washington County. There is a lot going on in this area, but, often, I find out about a festival, a concert, a celebration, a class, or some other event only after it happens. Or I attend an event and not many other people are there. Or I hear from nonprofits lamenting that attendance to an event was low.

So I offer this list of easy ways to publicize an event or activity in the area where I live. It's especially for nonprofit organizations, city agencies (schools, police, parks departments, etc.) and communities of faith in Western Washington County, serving Forest Grove, Cornelius, Gales Creek, Gaston and Hillsboro.

FIRST

Put together as much information as you can as early as possible before the event, in writing. Some publications need to have information in hand at least eight weeks in advance to include your information in a paper publication - some even more than that. You need, at least, when the event is happening, where, what the costs to attend might be, and a description of the event, focusing on WHY someone would want to attend.

WEB SITE

Have information about the event or activity on your web site as soon as you can, weeks or even months in advance if possible, even if all you can announce is the date and where the event is, but no other details. Make sure there is a link to this info from your home page. Update the page regularly as new information becomes available. 

PRESS RELEASE

Write a press release at least four weeks in advance. The first paragraph should have the name of the event or activity, the date(s) of such, the name of the organization hosting or sponsoring the event or activity, and the location of such. It should also say why the event or activity is happening (does it benefit a particular charity, for instance?). In other words: who, what, where, when and why. The second paragraph should provide additional essential information, such as costs to attend the event or activity, where to buy tickets (if such is required), if attendees should bring anything to attend, etc. The first two paragraphs should have all basic information, such that a person could stop reading at that point and have enough information to attend. Other paragraphs can have quotes from the person in charge of the event, information on the history of the event, and so forth.

EMAIL

Email the press release to these agencies (you can find the current email via their web sites):
  • -- Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce
  • -- Forest Grove City
  • -- City of Cornelius
  • -- News-Times Forest Grove
  • -- Forest Grove Leader (part of the Oregonian)
  • -- The Pacific Index (newspaper of Pacific University)
  • -- Washington County Visitors Association

  • As appropriate, you will want to email your press release to:
    -- Pacific University Center for Gender Equity
    -- Pacific University Center for Peace and Spirituality
    -- Pacific University Center for Civic Engagement
    -- Churches in one of or all four communities

    If you want to reach even more people nearby, contact similar organizations in Banks and North Plains. And for even more people, email similar organizations in Hillsboro.

    If this is a large-scale volunteering event, a workshop that could help nonprofit staff, or a job opening at a nonprofit, send the press release to the CNRG (Community Nonprofit Resource Group) Community Commons

    FACEBOOK

    Post a brief announcement to these Facebook groups and Facebook accounts, with links to your web site for more information:
    -- Your organizationís Facebook account
    -- Forest Grove Community
    -- Forest Grove Free Classifieds
    -- Cornelius Classifieds
    -- Visit Oregonís Washington County

    Create a Facebook event as well. This allows people to express that they are interested in the event, or that they are going. This can help you get a general headcount, and means each person who has marketed the event as "interested" or "going" will receive regular reminders about it in their newsfeed. If you need a different way for people to RSVP, then say so in your description on the Facebook event.

    Post more than once to your organization's Facebook page about the event. Include a photo or graphic if possible.

    Be ready to respond to any comments about your event promptly - check in at least once a day to respond to inquiries.

    Encourage all staff and volunteers to share this information via their own Facebook accounts as well, and to mark that they are "interested" or "going" to the event as well.

    TWITTER

    Tweet about the event or activity with links to your web site for more information. One tweet isnít enough; a tweet once a week, every week before the event, as far out as you can (six weeks in advance isnít too early) is better. Including a name of one of the communities in each tweet - Forest Grove, Gaston, Cornelius and Gales Creek - will help more people find your information - people who arenít yet following you on Twitter. Also include tags, like #Oregon and @WCVA, to reach people who arenít yet following you on Twitter.

    Encourage all staff and volunteers to retweet this information via their own Twitter accounts as well..

    INSTAGRAM

    If you know how to use Instagram, make a graphic to post to Instagram that has all the basic info: who, what, where, where, and why. In the description, put all of this information as well.

    GooglePlus

    If you have a GooglePlus account, you should post the information there as well - it will increase your placement on Google when someone looks for your organization or the event. It should link back to your web site with more information.  

    FLYER

    Post a flyer with complete information at all libraries in Forest Grove, Cornelius, Gales Creek and Gaston - and Hillsboro as well, if you want an even bigger crowd. Also post the flyer on the bulletin boards around the student union at Pacific University

    If you have time, ask shops in the four rural communities to post the flyer in their windows.

    TV

    If you are hoping for Portland-area TV coverage before the event, you can send your press release to the four local TV stations there. However, be aware that this might result only in an effort by the TV station to get you to pay for live, onsite coverage before the event - its an advertisement dressed up like news coverage.

    DURING/AFTER EVENT

    During the event, post photos to your organization's Twitter and Facebook accounts, and any other accounts you have, like Flickr and Instagram, with information about what is happening. This may prompt latecomers to attend. Also, it helps people remember for next time you have an event.

    Be sure to ask people at the event, "How did you hear about this?"

    MORE?

    Sure, there is more you can do to publicize your event, but these aforementioned are the basics. They are free, easy-to-do, and will get results.

    ALSO SEE:

  • Finding a Computer/Network Consultant
    Staff at mission-based organizations (nonprofits, civil society organizations, and public sector agencies) often have to rely on consultants, either paid or volunteer, for expertise in computer hardware, software and networks. Staff may feel unable to understand, question nor challenge whatever that consultant recommends. What can mission-based organizations do to recruit the "right" consultant for "tech" related issues, one that will not make them feel out-of-the-loop or out-of-control when it comes to tech-related discussions?
  • Creating One-Time, Short-Term Group Volunteering Activities
    Details on not just what groups of volunteers can do in a two-hour, half-day or all-day event, but also just how much an organization or program will need to do to prepare a site for group volunteering. It's an expensive, time-consuming endeavor - are you ready? Is it worth it?

  • Recruiting Local Volunteers To Increase Diversity Among the Ranks
    Having plenty of volunteers usually isn't enough to say a volunteering program is successful. Another indicator of success is if your volunteers represent a variety of ages, education-levels, economic levels and other demographics, or are a reflection of your local community. Most organizations don't want volunteers to be a homogeneous group; they want to reach a variety of people as volunteers (and donors and other supporters, for that matter). This resource will help you think about how to recruit for diversity, or to reach a specific demographic.

  • Using Third Party Web Sites Like VolunteerMatch to Recruit Volunteers
    There are lots and lots of web sites out there to help your organization recruit volunteers. You don't have to use them all, but you do need to make sure you use them correctly in order to get the maximum response to your posts.

  • Recognizing Online Volunteers & Using the Internet to Honor ALL Volunteers
    Recognition helps volunteers stay committed to your organization, and gets the attention of potential volunteers -- and donors -- as well. Organizations need to fully recognize the efforts of remote, online volunteers, as well as those onsite, and not differentiate the value of these two forms of service. Organizations should also incorporate use of the Internet to recognize the efforts of ALL volunteers, both online and onsite. With cyberspace, it's never been easier to show volunteers -- and the world -- that volunteers are a key part of your organization's successes. This new resource provides a long list of suggestions for both honoring online volunteers and using the Internet to recognize ALL volunteers that contribute to your organization.
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