Publicity is usually described as the process of disseminating information for public interest. Regardless of the scope, the audience or the event that a pub head wants to handle, it is usually done with a prescribed template. I’ve worked on several pub projects before and I’d like to guide you through your own advertising endeavour on campus.
Publicity starts when planning the event. When the organizing committee first talks about details of the affair, the pub head suggests features which make it more appealing for their target audience. These include ideas as crucial as party theme and seminar topics, and as trivial as ticket prices and give-aways. Publicizing is easier if the event itself is value-adding and interesting for participants.
Next, the pub head creates its “look” and “feel.” Should people see the occasion as fun and casual or as classy and formal? This phase is called “image-building” or “branding.” Branding is making the first impression. It’s about creating interest, and establishing the primary relationships with the audience through the look of the ads.
Given that tons of pubmats are released in UP everyday, it’s a challenge for the pub head to create a unique branding for his ads. He should not only be creative, but also be observant of other pubmats so that the image which he gives the event will seem fresh and original for his audience. It would also help if he researches on design elements related to the event’s theme. The pub head makes sure that the target audience perceives the event right. By choosing appropriate designs, and by creating logos and catch-phrases, he makes posters and other advertising materials which provide it with a character. And it is this character which creates impressions and relationships with the audience.
A good understanding of visual elements is required from the pub head during this phase. He should have a background in art or at least a strong intuition for what is visually appealing for the audience. Moreover, it helps to have experience with photo-editing software. During the branding phase, intelligent choices of elements like color, font and shape bring out the proper character of the event. For example, bright colors are used to lighten up the feel of a poster, and bold texts are for emphasis and for serious-looking occasions. Ads also appeal differently to different people. A poster for a corporate marketing seminar will look boring for liberal arts majors, but it will attract a number of business enthusiasts. In order for the publicity head to effectively establish the branding, he must also possess the thorough knowledge about the target audience, and the ability to translate ideas into tangible advertising materials.
The execution phase comes after branding. This is the period when promotional materials are released to the public. After the pub head has created relationships with his audience through branding, he can then develop stronger and more intimate bonds with them to further lure them into his event, by giving them more reasons to attend it.
There are two things that a pub head keeps in mind during execution. First, he considers the form of the advertisements. The most conventional forms are posters, tarpaulins, online posts and Facebook fan pages but the pub head may also include exhibits, performances, product samples, and contests if he sees these value-adding. He considers available media which the target audience is frequently exposed to but this shouldn’t be the only basis for his choice of forms.
Choosing the forms also depends on their scope and practicality. Scope is the population each form can reach while practicality concerns the budget that a pub head is given. Tarpaulins have large scope, so it wouldn’t be practical to produce an expensive tarp for a target of only fifty participants. Sending SMS has a small scope since it’s limited to the contacts that a pub head has, but it’s cheap. Online publicity is generally free however, it’s scope depends on both the size of the pub head’s network and on how viral his ads are disseminated. Furthermore, media partners online and in radio, print and television can significantly boost the event’s publicity.
The second thing to remember during execution is strategic release of publicity materials. The pub head is careful not to bombard the target audience with too much information all at once, so he posts his ads in installments called “waves.” With waves, he maintains the balance between the quantity of ads he issues, and the frequency with which these are issued. The first wave is usually a teaser. Teasers are light and oftentimes witty ads which are used mainly to arouse the interest of the public. After the teasers have created the initial hype, a second wave is conducted to give the audience full details of the activity. Succeeding waves are usually better versions of the materials released during the second wave. They may also contain major updates from the event organizing committee. The publicity head schedules these waves such that the target audience will not be overloaded with information, but will remain interested in the event.
After weeks of preparation and advertising, the event is held. Not only does the pub head worry about the turn out of the participants, he also has to make sure that their expectations on the “mood” of the occasion are met. This “mood” is simply its branding being executed, not through posters and flyers, but through tangible things like decorations, floor plan and give-aways. The pub head is in charge of all aesthetics that participants encounter- from the layout of handouts to the projections on screen. He also has a say about stage design, props, music, and even attire of the ushers.
The branding that he had established during the execution phase should show during the event. However, it is more difficult to keep the branding alive through tangible elements during the occasion than to present this through designs in a poster. During the event, all aesthetics must consistently be delivered and therefore should be planned and executed perfectly from start to finish. All the intimate connections he has made with his audience during execution should still hold, otherwise his efforts to give the event a unique character would be put to waste. An inappropriate background music, for example, has the potential to ruin the mood of the whole crowd. These challenges make the event phase the toughest one to handle for any publicity head.
If everything turns out right, the pub head rests satisfied after the event. He is happy not only because he was able to attract a large number of people to his event, but also because he was able to make personal connections with each participant. This is the beauty of publicity – to establish intimate relationships with the audience. Publicity, therefore, is not just about disseminating information. It is also about igniting appropriate emotions in each participant by crafting pubmats and by living out the branding of the event. It may be challenging, but it’s a very rewarding task. As final advice, remember that a publicity head is limited not by his skill and knowledge, but by his vision, creativity and passion.
Edsel John Serrano