Races don’t usually start out with thousands of people and million dollar sponsorships, but rather as small races grown from great concepts. These races have huge potential and the key to growth is promotion, promotion, promotion. Also, having a solid and well run event, but still, race promotion is absolutely essential. The tricky question is of course, how should a Race Director promote their event as time goes on, especially once the race starts to get attendees from out of town?
Here are three areas to consider when spreading the word and building any race up for success.
Email and Social Media
People use their computers for almost everything nowadays. If you’re going to get folk’s attention, a strong online campaign can make a huge difference, especially for out-of-towners. The great thing about email and social media? They’re typically free or low cost.
Some great products out there to help with email campaigns are Constant Contact, MailChimp, and AWeber to name a few. When crafting email campaigns, it’s important to consider your audience(s). This will change depending on whether you are promoting solely to locals or not. If racers are local, feel free to hone in on personal stories from the community. This will encourage people to share the content since it will directly affect them and their neighbors.
Creating a second email for those who live elsewhere can be a chance to think a bit “bigger,” focusing more on ideas, causes, and so on. Since the out-of-town racer won’t know about the local celebrity who is running, use that space to instead share information on things to do in town while they are around.
Social media should be a staple of any strong organization, especially those centered around an event bringing people together. Social media requires a little less diversification for local and nonlocal than emails, but it does require more character and voice. Social media can be a time consuming endeavor so make sure to have a plan for execution ahead of time and ways to measure if it’s achieving what you want. Of course, if something relevant comes up on any given day, do not hesitate to share and comment on such content. In contrast, time should be committed daily to interacting with potential fans and participants. This is a great chance to thank locals for their support and answer questions for those who don’t know the terrain as well. Creating a strong, defined, and helpful voice for an event can be a massive boon. People want to feel like they are having a conversation, not just talking to a robot who speaks solely in generic platitudes.
This one may seem obvious but can be surprisingly daunting of a task to take on. However, reporters are often open to stories that are of great public interest being sent their way. The issue lies in letting said reporters know what makes your event worth their time as they are inundated with dozens of such requests from numerous other organizations.
Don’t fret though, there are few tricks to get the media to assist in your race promotion. First and foremost, it needs to be explained why your particular event is unique. What makes this run more than just another run? What’s your angle, your cause, your “Wow!” factor that sets your event apart? This component of race promotion will help with all social outreach, but especially so in getting a reporter to show up on that Saturday morning.
Second, be open and eager to make friends with the Media! Share whatever you can with the them, and be genuine. Person to person connections are still the most important when it comes to helping promotion succeed. If you have a newsworthy speaker or participant like a local celebrity or prominent politician, coordinate with the individual to make sure they’re comfortable and willing to give an interview. This not only gives the reporter a chance to speak with someone of influence, it lends credence to your event in years to come as people from all over Google search your event as it grows, persuading them to make the trip out for the run.
When looking for potential outlets, run the gambit. Small, local papers will of course have smaller readership, but they are far more likely to pick up the story. Larger outlets, like a regional or city paper or TV affiliate will take note of the publication, giving your event greater credence in attracting coverage. The larger the outlet, the larger the dissemination of knowledge of your event beyond the local population.
The running and endurance event communities tend to be pretty tight knit with runs, especially those that are longer, grabbing the attention of athletes from all over the world. However, if your run is new, a massive boost in knowledge can come from sponsorships. If there are organizations or companies in your vicinity, they can be fantastic tools of race promotion. IT is advised contacting a real person rather a general contact page, but both can see positive results.
One that often draws a great number of enthusiastic participants are breweries. Lots of people love beer, that’s no big secret, so getting a local brewery, especially if they have sales and fans outside the region can be a huge boost in viewership and sign ups.
On a local level, coordinating with local businesses and organizations can boost interest through a number of cost-effective efforts. Ideas include bosses emailing employees, fliers in popular cafes, and chatter in the media. The more someone sees a name or symbol, the more likely they are to check out the event and, in turn, sign up. You can even utilize your team and see if they have connections directly to your audience (like a running group). Our blog on offline ways to communicate with the media will you give you more in depth directions on how to best make this a viable part of your strategy.
On a broader scale, offering free cross promotion can be a huge draw for companies to get in on your race. Especially in the first couple years, offer affordable sponsorship packages allowing the companies to promote at your race. In return, promote their involvement in your email and social media campaigns, media stories, and other outlets. Branches of any larger, national organizations in your community are a great place to start, as they will often have the resources necessary to pay for such sponsorships. Sometimes, they may even chip in some volunteers, always a huge plus. Require they use their influence, at least that of their branch, to spread the word and you will find people from outside the area starting to hear more and more about the race.
These are just a few helpful hints on how race promotion can be catered to both your neighbors and those potential runners a few states over. With enough time, effort, and personality, your race can grow to have participants from all over the world!
To learn more about how Chronotrack can help with all your race promotion and management needs, contact us!