Ideas to Promote Your Local IMBA Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day
By Chip Smith, Soar Communications
You never know if someone you know may know someone else who can help. A friend of a friend who is a cyclist or love kids may know someone who works at a printing company that can donate flyers or posters, they may know someone at a radio or TV station that can help arrange interviews, they may know a graphic artist that is willing to design ads for free to add to their portfolio of work, they may know a publisher of your local newspaper who is a cyclist and is willing to give you two half-page ads for free, they may know of a national cycling celebrity that lives in the area who is willing to help with radio and TV interviews, they may know a person who works at a public relations agency that is willing to help on a pro-bono basis. You know, you just never know...!
Contact your local sports radio stations two to three weeks ahead of time about interviewing you regarding the upcoming event (including a local cycling celebrity, parent or kid helps make the interview more interesting). Ask your station contact if they provide on-air public service announcements. If they do, write a 30-second and a 60-second script they can read on air. Ask them if they would like to broadcast live from your event. Do your research ahead of time; go to the radio station's Web site and learn about the radio host's background. They may be casual or hardcore cyclists, they may have kids, etc. Knowing this information in advance will help you pitch the story.
TV, Newspaper and Internet Articles
The media is looking for stories to fill shows, and print and online news pages. Over time, pay attention to which media outlets cover stories about bikes, kids, fitness and health (many of them may be cyclists themselves). Make note of who wrote or covered the story and develop a relationship with the person by phone or e-mail. If you don't have time to track all of that, simply go to the news organization's Web site, look for staff bio information, search for articles about cycling or kids' advocacy, find out who wrote the articles and contact that person. E-mail them well written press releases about your upcoming event. Write a press release that covers the who, what, where, when and why of your event. If it's well written, they will copy and paste portions of it into their article and your event is publicized!
Three days before the event e-mail a very short, bullet-pointed explanation of the who, what, where and when of your event to all your media contacts. Make sure to explain in the e-mail why it will be a good event to cover (i.e. Kids advocacy, parenting opportunity, great photo opportunity of kids outside riding bikes, etc.).
Online Community Calendars
Many local news agencies (i.e. CBS, FOX, NBC, NPR, your local newspapers, community magazines, etc.), have online community calendars. Post your event details on those calendars well in advance of your event.
Advertising Pro-bono Space
Your local newspapers may offer reduced rates or even free advertising space. When you call, be ready to tell them about your event, why it's beneficial to the community, etc. You'll need to pitch them on your event just like you would a journalist (remember not too be pushy though).
Many billboard companies offer drastically reduced rates or even free billboard space to non-profit events. They often have remnant space they'd like to fill and sometimes the billboards stay up months after your event, which equals more advertising for your IMBA organization. Just like when asking for reduced or free advertising space in newspapers, be ready to tell them why your event is beneficial to the community.
Posters and Flyers
Make posters and flyers and have volunteers take them to their local bike shop, grocery store, sporting goods store, school, fitness club, etc., anywhere where you think people who would be interested in your event might hang out. You can organize a one day volunteer poster/flyer distribution day, or just give your volunteers the posters and flyers and have them deliver them as they are running their everyday errands.
Ask local cycling clubs (many cities have more than one) if they will forward an e-mail about your event to all of their members.
Since your event is for a good cause, your local cycling event promoter might be willing to send an e-mail on your behalf to their database of their events' participants. Ask them and see what they say.
If you have a blog, write about your event on a regular basis. Write about what you are doing to get ready for it, write that you are looking for volunteers to help, write about the benefits of getting kids outside, and write about how to teach a kid to ride, for example. These posts will help get the word about your event.
Social Networking Web Sites
Web sites like Facebook and Myspace make it easy to promote your event to a large, diverse group of people. Both Web sites allow you to create event pages with the who, what, where and when of your event, add photos and blast that invite out to as many friends as you've got. Those friends that you invite can also send the event invite to all of their friends and it instantaneously creates a huge network of cyclists, parents and kids who may not have known about the event but now are interested in attending.
Tweet about your event. Twitter is a relatively new online social networking tool. Learn about it at www.Twitter.com. Sign up, search some key terms that pertain to your event to find other Twitter users who you think should be interested in the event. It's pretty fun.
Try a combination of the above and see what happens. See what works and doesn't work. Each year you will get better at it, and your event will be well publicized.