How to Run a Poetry Night: Promoting
A series on how to plan and run a successful poetry night. This essay looks at how to promote properly and why it is important.
If you are going to put on a poetry night and have planned it to perfection, the next thing you need to consider is promoting it. Promoting is how you advertise a gig. There’s a hesitance amongst artists in learning how to effectively market—it seems dirty to us creative types—but as a Producer it is your duty to make sure as many people turn up for your artists.
1. This is a relationship industry
The connection you have with your venue and poets is vital. If you’re on great terms with your venue, they will help promote it and reach out to audiences you wouldn’t have.
2. Learn how to use social media
There’s no excuse—there are thousands of resources to learn from. This is your job; don’t rely on excuses of technophobia or lack of knowledge. Learn. Your poets deserve the effort.
3. Don’t just stick to Facebook
Tweet about it, communicate with local press, and use gig listing sites.
4. Have a consistent brand
Are your events promoted under your artist name or your company? Does it have its own page? Giving people a set platform to follow makes it a hell of a lot easier. Using your personal page adds to the noise, and means people will quickly grow tired if they’re waiting for more news on your event.
5. Be creative
Posters and video content trend best on social media, so make a poster! It’s not hard; there are free websites and graphics tools along with the paid ones. I do it for my night, Tongue Punch, every month—it can take ten minutes and gives people something to share and tag themselves in.
6. Tag your line up
This increases reach, reminds them of the event, and gives fans a handy way of following the poet.
7. Communicate with your acts directly
Don’t post on your feed asking people to do things; create a group chat and keep it focused on the event. It keeps everything in one place and everyone in the loop; you also know that everyone is going to see it.
8. Schedule your posts
Creatives are night owls but that doesn’t mean our audience will be. There’s no point posting at 4am when no one’s awake. I personally find that posting between 4pm and 6pm is best, when people are getting in from work and actually scrolling through their feeds.
9. Limit your posts
People will tune out if you’re always talking. Stick to getting across the basics. Less is more.
10. Sell tickets multiple ways
Give people as many options to pay as possible. Cash in advance, on the door, whatever. The more options, the more likely they will pay. Platforms like Eventbrite are great for selling tickets and promoting events.
11. Invite local press
Pick and chose who you invite, but inviting a member of the local press will give you coverage outside the traditional poetry audience. These links can be especially useful if you plan something big down the line, like a festival stage.
12. Learn to write a press release
There are resources online that will show you how to create one. If you’re inviting press, attaching a release tells them how great your show is. Even if they can’t come, they may run the release.
There’s a lot more to promoting than sharing an event on Facebook. Unfortunately, it’s not an “if you build it, they will come” scenario. You have to put in work. With these tips, hopefully you can ensure your event reaches the most people.
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© 2018 Connor Sansby
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Connor Sansby is a Margate-based writer, editor, poet and publisher through his super-indie Whisky & Beards publishing label.
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