Getting a Jump on Summer and End of Summer Events
At this time of year there are always a new crop of Lodge officers, bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to take on the world. This is always a welcome site and these bright young officers should be allowed to stand on their own and move forward with any plans and trying new things. Inevitably the question gets asked, “How are we going to fund this or that project or event?”
Like anything else in life you must let someone know what is happening outside of your Lodge or sphere of friends and relatives if you would like a good response and turnout. Dare I call it “Marketing”?
It was not that long ago that most community events were held by the Masons, FD, Rotary and maybe a Church Group. Today that dynamic has changed and there is actual competition for your charitable event fundraisers and attendance.
So what is a Lodge to do to attract more of the Community to its functions? Event Marketing professionals tell us that it does not have to be expensive or a full time job to get the word out about your events. Just a bit of skill and know how and maybe a bit of elbow grease.
Use the almost free tools that you have at your disposal to get the word out and back it up with pics or videos of prior events. Use social media to your advantage.
Many Lodges in the District have websites and most have FB pages which is good to see. In a recent conversation with another WM from the district about how to promote events, “it’s best to create a inexpensive website, host a calendar or event page there with some contact info and pics of your Lodge and events. Then create at least a FB public page and link any and all events you create on your web page to the FB public page. By doing this you direct traffic back to a central place that anyone (even non-FB users) can access and view the info. The same principle applies to other social media, like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
The main goal is to re-direct all inquiries to your site. Although having just a FB site is acceptable, remember that not all users on the internet or in your Lodge or even of your target audience will be FB users. At my Lodge we have both a public FB page and a private group we use to spread the word about events. These all lead back to our site which will give more details of the event of interest.
If you have a modest budget or just want to be be generous you can mount a social media ad campaign for large public events with very small amounts of money. Small amounts like $5-$10/week will get your event a good amount of exposure if done correctly. Start these types of campaigns early, like at least 3 months prior to the event.
Another avenue that may will neglect is local newspapers. I know may think newsprint is a dinosaur and will disappear like the dodo if it has not already. If your town or region has a local newsprint newspaper, get one and look up (many have this info online as well) the way you can submit news (press) releases. If done correctly more often than not they are printed. You can do press releases for your open to the public events, Brother Bring a Friend events, elections and Installations, especially if they are public. Intro to the New Master of a Lodge or New Officers. Let the local community know your are there.
A little bit of effort in this area can yield a large payoff. There are many sites online that will give examples of press releases format and even list fax or email addresses for them. Be sure and give enough advanced notice. Timing of ads and these types of campaigns are a bt tricky to get right but the results will be good to great depending on these factors. You really can’t go wrong if you get the word out there.
Lasty this site is a fairly good resource as we have worked hard to make it organized and reader friendly and to filter the truly interested from the casually curious. The District Calendar is a great way to get the word on the street about your Lodge’s events and fundraisers. Each Lodge should have appointed someone as a Lodge Liaison to post events to the District Calendar. Just a name, date, time and some details, like how much and where and what it’s for is all that is needed. You can email the webmasters to let them know who is your Lodge’s Liaison. They will be given permission to add calendar items.
All who register and are confirmed members of a Lodge in the Suffolk District can also Post Blog (News) items for their Lodge or about Masonry in general, with editorial review of course. Here you can add pics of your Lodge’s event and how much fun you all had. One Lodge’s Annual event also comes replete with teaser videos which are done nicely.
The District Monthly Newsletter gets out to about 630 people in the area each month. However you have to be in it to win it, so to speak. In other words if the editors, in this case the webmasters, don’t know about your Lodge’s event, it won’t make it into the Newsletter. Posting your Lodge’s event lets the webmasters know about it and to include it in the next edition of the newsletter. The deadline to get the info into the newsletter is the 25th of the month to be included in the next month’s edition. So plan early and get the word out early!
Considering the summer break for Lodge’s in the area, there are some Lodge’s like my own that host at least one event during the summer and another in September. These are our 2 largest so we can’t wait until Lodge starts back up in September to promote them. That has to start in May-June and be reinforced in Late August early September. If your Lodge has not already done so (consult the District Calendar), begin getting those summer events posted before the summer starts to make sure it’s known. And Get the Info Out there!