This section holds the key ingredients for cooking up a nice public outreach and media plan. Providing the right information to the right people at the right time is key to attracting good partners and participants, catching the media's attention, and generally spreading the word.
The following points are roughly ordered chronologically, but some are more general tips and do not really fit into a timeline. If you're looking for a real step-by-step guide to planning the event, use the Work Plan (which also contains the key milestones for media and communications). As you already have a lot of text about the event in your Concept Paper it is a good idea to re-use it for the general Announcement.
Designing an attractive logo, choosing an interesting name, and creating a unique identity for each Camp, makes it easier to attract the media's attention, and identify with the event.
The camp web site
- Each Source Camp has a dedicated space on the web (see Africa Source 2 <http://wiki.africasource2.tacticaltech.org/> or Foss Road <http://wiki.fosstj.tacticaltech.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?FrontPage> for examples).
- Publish a short general announcement roughly 6 months prior to the event.
- When planning, update information on the website as things become increasingly concrete: add information regarding the venue, travel, visa requirements, health considerations, reference links, the updated concept note, FAQ, application form, advisory group information, details about funders/donors/supporters, testimonials from previous participants, etc.
- During the event, focus moves to the event wiki (see Africa Source 2 <http://wiki.africasource2.tacticaltech.org/> or Foss Road <http://wiki.fosstj.tacticaltech.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?FrontPage> for examples). See more on this below.
Use the Internet
- To announce your event:
- Create a list of relevant discussion groups and mailing lists and post your Announcement to them (or ask others to post them)
- Make a list of online event calendars, and submit your information to make sure you are listed in all relevant calendars.
Involve the Advisory Group
- Ask for media contacts and create a list of targets for your announcements.
- Involve the advisors in sending out the Announcement to their networks (this includes individuals, organisations, mailing lists, etc.)
- Coordinate this to avoid duplication.
Make sure the call for participation gets heard
- Use all available channels, traditional media, www, email and rely on your network and advisory group to diffuse the Announcement.
- Send out a reminder.
Work (with) the press
- Around 1.5 months before the event, approach and organise journalists/press coverage, using the initially created list as a starting point.
- Organise a press conference if appropriate.
- Clearly differentiate the event from other conferences.
- Write forwardable emails, without spamming: use contacts and networks.
- Write a short Press Release, max 1 A4, 'ready-to-use'.
- Do not send out too many press releases.
- As a general rule, send one before (to reach potential participants) and one after the event (to report on the successes).
Cover the event as it unfolds
- If possible, organise streaming for the event.
- Provide some coverage from the event itself. Frederik Noronha's blog posts from previous events are a good example for quasi-live coverage. Probably as a result of the widely published and forwarded blog posts, the Africa Source II wiki is very prominently ranked in Google.
- Keep an eye out for accomplishments, achievements, and stories that characterise the event.
- Update donors and sponsors during the event.
- Make sure coverage is unintrusive and does not affect the style and atmosphere of the event. For example, it can be disruptive having many non-participants interviewing during the Source Camp. Remember that the event is more important than its press coverage.
- Use an event wiki for documentation, local planning (announcements), and community building.
- Collect reports, articles, feedback and outcomes on the website.
- Ask participants to describe their experiences and tell their stories, and use information from the feedback forms.
- If appropriate, publish further articles about the event.