Promoting Your Event at UW-Madison
University Communications has created this toolkit to help our partners across campus promote their events — big and small — to the university community and beyond.
Due to the large number of excellent events taking place on campus year round, we are generally not able to write and disseminate news releases for you, but the information in this kit can help you spread the word on campus and to local media. There are many ways people find events to attend, and multiple avenues to reach your audiences. We encourage event planners to survey their attendees about how they learned about a particular event; that kind of information can help everyone promote to their desired audiences even better over time.
As always, we’re here to help communicate the work being done across campus every day. If you have questions about this toolkit, or any other communications questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can find us at https://uc.wisc.edu/staff-list/ and (608) 262-3571.
Releases and promotional materials
If you have an event for which you have written a release or other promotional material, we may be able to include it in our products such as Inside UW (for faculty/staff) and The Weekly (for students). Email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Know that space in these publications is extremely limited and submission does not guarantee an item will be used.
College, school, and department newsletters are other good avenues for distributing releases advertising events.
The best materials tell a brief story about what the event is and why it is worth attending. Providing background about the speaker, context about an issue, the history of repeating events, and other detailed descriptions help draw attendees. Details of time, place (including addresses), transportation, and other practical considerations should be front and center. Pictures (of past events, speakers, etc.) also help tell the story. Also, be sure to factor registration timelines into your materials, if necessary, so people don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of the events you are promoting.
Advertising in university products
Both Inside UW and The Weekly run advertisements from campus partners, which are often for events. Contact University Marketing for more information: http://insideuw.wisc.edu/advertising/
Using or developing active social media accounts will likely attract those who may be interested in your events. New to social media? Here’s a little bit of information, with resources to learn more: https://brand.wisc.edu/multimedia/social-media/
Facebook has dedicated events organizing tools, including giving you a rough head count of who might show up, and is used by a lot of people to find and share all kinds of events. Other outlets can link back to a Facebook or another event page. Most social media posts fade pretty quickly, so promoting your event multiple times over a period of time will help more people see it.
Facebook also has self-service advertising that can be used to promote an event and target a particular audience.
We may be able to help boost some of your social media efforts, so let us know if you’re trying to make your social advertisements more visible.
There are more than 1,000 student organizations on our campus. If your event is in the wheelhouse of a student organization, they may like to know about it and promote it to their members — if not help out with the event itself! Check out the Wisconsin Involvement Network (https://win.wisc.edu/) to find if there are organizations in the subject area of your event or department and reach out to develop a relationship with them.
There are several public calendars you can post to that people routinely check for new events. In addition to the UW–Madison event calendar (http://today.wisc.edu/), several community calendars exist as well. These are good places to look to attract audiences from outside the university. They are easy to add events to, but each runs a little differently. Some require an account log-in.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of the event
- Visit http://isthmus.com/events/submit.html for required details
Channel 3000/Madison Magazine
Many journalistic organizations cover events around Madison and Dane County, including university events. Especially for your marquee event of choice, directly reaching out and “pitching” your event may attract some outside attention. Features on local and regional media will help tell the story of your event and promote it all at once.
It’s good to reach out to media outlets well ahead of time so they can plan around other stories they have in play. Phone calls often get the attention of news organizations, where lots of emails suggesting stories will go unanswered. Journalists also love Twitter, and sometimes this is the best way to reach them. Below is a list of media contacts. Know that it is not comprehensive. If you know people personally at a particular media outlet, your pitch is likely to go even farther.
A good pitch is brief, and includes a hook that gets the journalist’s attention and convinces them to write about it for their audience. News hooks include things like timeliness; regional pride (think dairy); connection with items in the news (e.g. for speakers who will comment on the topic); the return of annual events; the unveiling of new events; large expected crowd sizes; philanthropic causes; big speakers; family friendly events; among many others. Good pitchers respond promptly when the journalist calls back and make themselves available for things like live or recorded interviews.
University Communications can help answer any questions you have about interacting with outside media, and we’ll do our best to provide tips on how to get their attention. It’s never a guarantee, but usually worth a shot.
The Capital Times
Wisconsin State Journal
Capitol City Hues
Jonathan Gramling, editor
(Ho Chunk bimonthly newspaper/website)
Marlon WhiteEagle, editor
Joe Vanden Plas, editorial director
Judy Davidoff, editor
Karen Michel, editor
Ernest Jones, editorial director
Yvette Craig, publisher and editor
Spectrum News Wisconsin
Wisconsin Public Radio
Bill Martens, producer, Joy Cardin show
Wisconsin Public TV
Zac Schultz, reporter
WISC-TV 3 (CBS)
WMTV 15 (NBC)
WKOW 27 (ABC)