By Baroness Violet Ruthvene in the SCA
This is an accompaniment to a lecture class I taught at the West Kingdom Arts & Sciences Tourney in June 2014. The goal is to help those running SCA events increase attendance by using modern public relations techniques.
Ways to Promote Your SCA Event:
Use all of these! But understand the pros & cons of each so you can manage your resources most effectively.
- Kingdom, Principality, & Branch Websites — Official, easy to find online & by general public, unlimited word count, can post as early as you want, can update frequently.
- Page Newsletter — Official & required, limited reach, limited word count, only 2 months exposure.
- Yahoo! Groups/Email Lists — Limited & dwindling reach (on SCA-West, traffic dropped by 80% in past 4 years; average 90 messages/month in 2014), unlimited word count, can post as early as you want, can update frequently.
- Facebook — Expanding reach (on West Kingdom SCA page, average 450 interactions/month in 2014), unlimited word count + photos, can post as early as you want, can update frequently.
- Flyers at Events — Limited but targeted reach, easy to do.
- Court Announcements — Limited but targeted reach, hard to guarantee getting on schedule.
- Word of Mouth — Potentially huge reach. All of the other things you do can help build this up.
Publicity Through SCA Official Channels
- Copy the kingdom webminister & chronicler on event info & updates.
- Copy the relevant principality webmaster & chronicler on info & updates.
Note: Email address on this page have a blank space in them & are not live-linked to reduce spam. Simply remove the blank space after the “at” symbol if you find the address not working.
West Kingdom Website Submissions:
When the local seneschal requests an event date & it’s approved, a placeholder for the event will be added to the Kingdom calendar. After that, the autocrat can submit updates at any time, as often as you need (just be organized about it).
Send unformatted (no bold, tabs, fancy fonts) event copy to webminister@ westkingdom.org as the text of an email & copy chronicler@ westkingdom.org. Or use the contact form on the website. Always include the date of your event in these emails to make finding your event in the database easier.
Page Newsletter Submissions:
Event copy will be published for the month of the event and the month prior. Deadline is 5 PM the FIRST DAY of the month BEFORE the cover date (i.e., February 1 for the March issue).
Event copy cannot exceed 350 words. Required event info: Date (day, month, year); Time the event opens and closes; Site fee; Name of the sponsoring branch; Location (i.e., name, address, town, directions) of site; Autocrat’s LEGAL and SCA name, email, and phone; Approval by seneschal (copy will only be accepted from the seneschal).
Send unformatted (no bold, tabs, fancy fonts) event copy to email@example.com as the text of an email.
Principality Website Submissions:
Send event copy to the relevant principality webminister when you send to the kingdom webminister in the same format.
DIY Online Publicity
For most events, one post every 8 days to 2 weeks is reasonable & not spammy. If you have specific needs, such as feast tickets or limited-attendance classes, you may wish to post more frequently to get enough coverage.
Write short, simple posts that include the name of the event, the date, the site name & city, & an URL for more info (use the Facebook URL on Facebook; use the Kingdom URL elsewhere).
Sample post, used to promote this class:
Want to get new people or just more people to an event? Then come to my class “Get Them in the Door: Promoting Your SCA Event” at the A&S Tourney on the afternoon of June 7 at Ed Levin Park in Milpitas. We’ll talk about using modern PR techniques to drum up interest in our medieval events among new folks & old-timers alike. Remember, the more friends we get playing our game, the merrier! — More about A&S Tourney: URL
Places to Post About Your Event:
Some Possible Places to Post on Facebook:
Post to your barony/shire/branch group forums & any relevant guild or subject-matter (cooking, music, fighter practice, etc.) forums as well, such as these below. Make sure to post to groups that make sense — if your event is fighting-focused, don’t post to a lot of arts groups; if the event is in Cynagua, consider posting once to Mists groups but not posting too often.
Sample Publicity Schedule for an SCA Event:
Note: This assumes you have officially gotten an event date approved on the Kingdom calendar through your seneschal. Also, you should have a site confirmed at this point.
Four months in advance:
- Gather info & write Page newsletter copy. For Kingdom & Principality events, ask royalty & officers if they are sponsoring an activity (for example, A&S usually has something on the calendar planned far in advance). Send Page copy through your seneschal for approval & publication by the 1st day of the month, three months in advance — for example, for an August event, you want publication in July & August Pages, so you must submit copy by June 1.
Three months in advance:
- Use newsletter copy to post date, site address, site fee, & any advance info (dogs allowed?, no potable water?, tourney?, feast tickets?, A&S competitions?, etc.) to Kingdom & Principality websites.
- Create Facebook event page with same info as in the newsletter & on the website. Share Facebook page with all your friends & post link to Kingdom Facebook page & other relevant forums.
Two months in advance:
- Update the Kingdom & Principality websites & event’s Facebook page with more detail about the event. Possible things to add:
- Directions, if they are different from standard GPS or online maps directions.
- Parking details, if there are specific instructions or limited space (carpooling suggested).
- Site fee details, such as family tickets, feast tickets, ACCEPS available, etc.
- Is Gold Key available or give Gold Key contact info, & for one-day events, is there a place to change into garb.
- Site details like terrain or type of hall, average weather, amenities, view, anything special. Not everyone has been to “that same old site” before.
- Activities, even if you don’t have a schedule, say what is generally planned, such as a tourney, court, feast, A&S competitions, etc. For Kingdom & Principality events, ask officers if they are sponsoring an activity. For smaller events, find out what your group has planned for the day. Then tell the populace about it!
One month in advance:
- Make simple flyers & do privy-posts at the biggest nearby events before your event. Post first thing in the morning, first day of the event. You only need about 10 flyers & some masking tape.
- Get on the schedule for an announcement at court at the biggest nearby events before your event (keep it short & sweet; enthusiastic & amusing is good too). Aim for morning or evening court of the first day.
- Post to all the relevant email groups & Facebook groups at every level, Kingdom thru shire. Don’t spam, but don’t be shy. One post every 8 days to 2 weeks is reasonable. See DIY Online Publicity above for sample post style.
- Make sure the websites & Facebook event page have ALL possible relevant info about the event by now (see Two Months for details to add).
- Keep track of any comments on the Facebook page, & answer questions within 24 hours. Also “like” when people add themselves. All this builds Facebook visibility for the event.
- Check the email groups. Any comments or questions? Address them within 24 hours.
- Check how many people have added themselves as “attending” the Facebook event. Maybe a third of actual attendees will join, but if you aren’t getting people already with a few weeks left, something is amiss. Spread the word!
One week in advance:
- Has any event info changed or is there anything new that people need to know? If so, update EVERYWHERE on each website & post to every forum about the updates (including a link back to the websites).
In the days before the event:
- Be available for last-minute questions by email & Facebook. If you can’t, then assign a deputy & make sure people know this person is acting for you while you are running event activities.