Supporting amplification (as an organiser)
As Marketing Officer for CILIP West Midlands, I’ve organised events and want to encourage people to share their experiences to widen the reach of the event. For a recent CILIP West Midlands event (The Library Debate) we had a member of the branch tweeting on behalf of the branch account @CILIPWM, and we hope to do this again in our upcoming hustings event. Here are some of the things I’ve learnt to bear in mind when organising an event that you would like to reach a wider audience:
- Use a venue with a reliable wireless connection – this is a must now, it really is expected at most events. It can be difficult to get this organised in certain venues, but if you can possibly host the event somewhere that you know has wifi access, I’d strongly recommend it. If you do have wifi available for attendees, be sure to publicise the details in information packs or around the venue, and mention it in the housekeeping section at the beginning of the event.
- Decide on an event hashtag and publicise it before and during the event – use the hashtag on any publicity you produce, and if you mention the event on Twitter make sure you use the hashtag. Again, include details in any delegate information packs and at the housekeeping section at the beginning of the event.
- Consider getting someone to tweet or liveblog the day as an “official” channel – you could offer free attendance in return for acting as the official tweeter/blogger, or make it a role of one of the members of the organising team.
- Consider livestreaming if budget and technology allows; otherwise consider video recording the event and uploading the videos shortly after the event.
- Set up the relevant online presences to help promote the event beforehand and amplify the event during and afterwards – this might be a Twitter account for a large conference, or a dedicated Facebook page, or it could just be a case of creating an event page on places like Facebook, LinkedIn, Eventbrite, Lanyrd, Flickr and Slideshare. The right avenues will depend on the type of event you are organising and where you expect your attendees/followers to be, though it really doesn’t hurt to set up a few as they take minutes to create. A Slideshare event (like this one I set up for this year’s Joint CoFHE/UC&R conference) can be a particularly useful place to add presentations for the event, although of course you will need to let presenters know if you plan to publicise their presentations online. Flickr groups (such as this one used at ALA Annual 2007) can be used to add photos from attendees as well as yourself, though again you will need to obtain permission from all attendees if you plan to publish photos.
- Set up tools to help you track the level of interest in your event – this is useful for gauging interest in a certain topic area for potential future events, as well as when you come to evaluate your event. For the basics, TwapperKeeper archives can be used to get statistics through Summarizr, and bit.ly links can be used to help track clicks (get yourself an account to easily tracks statistics).
- If you want to truly support an amplified event, engage with your online followers – gather up interest before the event and let them know what to expect, help them out and engage in conversation with them during the event, and get their feedback after the event on what you could do in future to improve support.
I think that covers most of the things I consider when organising an event to help widen the reach, are there any other tips you would add to this list? Please share any in the comments.