WWPR Vice president, Tina McCormack Beaty

The best PR and marketing tactics engage a key audience and disseminate information to shape a belief or behavior. Messages are typically pushed from one voice to the masses – but PR at its best utilizes two-way communication to truly interact with the audience. 

Spreading a message to create a behavior is the strategy behind event marketing. The requested behavior is for the target market to come to the event.  C.Fox Communications recently planned, marketed, and hosted a two-part event for the Maryland-based nonprofit Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC).  Since 1976, AHCMC has been Montgomery County’s designated local arts agency. Through their programs and services, AHCMC provides the infrastructure and support necessary to maintain a robust creative community that includes over 350 cultural organizations and 1,200 artists and scholars. 

The two-part event series “Bootcamp: Kicking Up Your Social Media” and “Blogger Brunch” aimed to provide social media and online media tools to individual artists, cultural organizations, production houses, and festival organizers so they can self-promote more effectively and efficiently.  The goal was not just to engage in-person attendees, but allow people to tune in via social media, and easily track the conversation from wherever their location.

Campaign impact started online through social media channels and cumulated in-person.  Majority of the outreach was conducted online due to a tight budget and association members spread out over a large geographical footprint.  Only the digital channels AHCMC already had in place were utilized which were email, website, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.  Each served established networks to engage attendees with tips such as the ones included in this event recap.

The measurable impact on AHCMC’s Facebook page was a 30% increase in post views and a 31% increase in post feedback during the campaign timeframe. Compared to the average, AHCMC’s Facebook page received 55 more likes during the event marketing campaign. 

To complement Facebook, specific and shorter messages were pushed out on Twitter in addition to establishing a hashtag for the campaign.  AHCMC’s Twitter handle had a 12% increase in followers during this time.

With a mix of pre-drafted and original content, the outreach drove followers to creativemoco.com, which reported an increase of traffic during the campaign.  The information page about the two events had the highest average time spent on the site at 4:54 minutes – quite an impressive length of stay considering today’s fast-paced world.

Within the outreach, impact was felt not just with the 20% of members that typically does 80% of the listening, but instead the repetitive and targeted messages prompted action from a wider group than AHCMC had ever seen.  46% of attendees to the “Kicking Up Your Social Media” workshop were not “regulars” at AHCMC educational seminars, and 59% of attendees to the “Blogger Brunch” were not “regulars”.   Many of them were attending their first AHCMC event, representing industries outside of the arts.  The wider audience at these events gave AHCMC an unexpected opportunity to expand its reach.

With the right message and targeted digital channels, online outreach can and does create offline action.   To make this possible it is all about the plan – a written plan featuring a day by day timeline and specific messages for each social media network is key.   And remember, social media is a two-way channel, so listen, speak, and interact if you want to gain offline results. 

To see a full review of the two events, check out creativemoco.com/bootcamp.  Once the Blogger Brunch got started we kept the in-person event alive online through a live stream of Tweets.  Review the Twitter Chat featuring the live comments made by USA, Washington City Paper, TBD, Patch, Greg’s List, A Parent in Silver Spring, and the Washington Post. 

Do you have a great example of online outreach creating offline action – share it below or tweet me at @TMStrategy.