PRAS has been staging events large and small on the west coast for over 42 years, and we’ve learned a few things about putting “bums in seats” (as the saying goes in the arts community) or feet on the dance floor. It’s a maxim in the arts world that
IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO PUBLICIZE YOUR EVENT,
YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO STAGE IT.
Publicity is a key part of staging any event and even in small towns like Tofino and Ucluelet it can be surprisingly difficult to accomplish. Even when you do get the word out, many people will forget on the night of the event. Nothing is more frustrating than spending days, weeks or even months preparing a show and have only a dozen people show up.
Don’t take it personally. People these days are distracted, busy, forgetful. They have a dozen things to do, plus another dozen things to distract them from what they have to do. Your event — the most important happening in the world for you — is just part of the general noise of living for them, until you penetrate the filters and (a) make them realize that it’s going to happen, (b) get them excited about its happening, and (c) make them remember to show up on the night it’s happening
Some general rules:
- Publicize in both towns, no matter where your event is held. People go back and forth all the time.
- Publicize in as many mediums as you can. Some people listen to the radio, some read the newspapers, some scour the bulletin boards. There are ways to do all this cheaply.
- Time your publicity properly. Too early and people will have forgotten; too late and they won’t be able to plan for it.
Word o’ mouth
You might think word of mouth will fill your venue. You tell some friends, they tell some friends … soon the whole town knows, right? Wrong.
Word of mouth is essential, but in our experience is won’t do the job all by itself. So talk it up with your friends and strangers. Tell the people you tell to talk it up. Never stop talking it up. But publicize your event through other means too.
Get rained on
Tips on getting noticed
Must-do poster locations (and their quirks) in roughly declining order of importance in each town:
- Tofino Co-op — outside board; board is cleared every Monday
- Co-op hardware — outside but covered; cleared every Monday
- Common Loaf Bakery — board is almost always swamped; your poster will get covered over in a couple of days
We are lucky to have a local FM radio station in each town:
- Tuff City Radio - http://www.tuffcityradio.rocks/
Contact: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ukee Radio - www.995ukeeradio.canic.ws
- In addition, CBC radio broadcasts in each town:
CBC Radio also broadcasts event announcements Island-wide (including the local CBC stations). See out-of-area publicity below
Newspapers & magazines
- Westerly News in the region’s main newspaper
- Tofino Time Magazine publishes event listing free of charge (space permitting) for events in Tofino, Ucluelet and the Pacific Rim National Park. Publishes monthly on the first of each month, year round.
Submit your event before the deadline (15th of previous month), there is a good chance you’ll get your event published in the magazine and in the online event calendar at www.tofinotime.com/events.
- Ha-Shilth-Sa, the region-wide Nuu-chah-nulth newspaper, comes out every two weeks
West coast’s Internet news site, www.westcoaster.ca
Westerly News has an on-line version.
Tofino Time has an event calendar.
If your event is aimed at tourists and visitors as well as locals, here are some contacts to spread the word beyond the local area. Remember to give full information about what, where and when your event is taking place. Be BRIEF, and mention the TOWN and LOCATION in town, because it’ll be read or heard by people not from here.
- CBC Radio makes community announcements that are heard on our local CBC stations (91.5 FM in Tofino and 540 AM in Ucluelet), and all over Vancouver Island. Send your brief announcement at least a week in advance to email@example.com or fax to 250-360-2600.
- The Nanaimo Daily News has a new (Jan. 2008) arts section that includes a listings section with events from all over Vancouver Island, including the West Coast. Email the arts editor, Carolynne Burkholder, at CBurkholder@nanaimodailynews.com.