A few years ago, every business in the land was looking to implement a content strategy because their VP of marketing had read on a blog somewhere that “content is king”.
Red Bull ushered in an era when brands would fund projects and events that made them look cool in the eyes of the consumer, and the “soft sell” approach became the mantra of marketing. And while consumers continue to be turned off by tacky logos emblazoned on the side of buildings, many companies still haven’t figured out how to use content effectively.
In the festival world, we’ve been pretty slow on the uptake. Sadly, many festivals still believe that the only route towards reaching your audience is through PR outreach to journalists. But there’s a better way. And the foundation for this new outreach tactic is to use your own social media channels and die-hard fans to build the hype you crave through carefully crafted online content.
Yes, there is still a crucial role for PR to play in publicizing your event, but when you have more engaged social media followers than the blogs writing about your event, it’s time to start adjusting your focus, building your our brand, and putting more money into content than PR.
No One Reads Press Releases
It’s a much-harked joke amongst music journalists that they don’t read press releases anymore. Many refuse to even open an email from publicists to avoid the thirsty follow-ups.
There is valuable information being conveyed in a press release, but with every journalist having their inbox overflowing with unread emails about artists, festivals and events, you should know that your emails are being lost in a tide of oversaturation.
You Don’t Have to Beg Journalists to Tell Your Story
The very concept of building a content strategy means that you are taking ownership of your brand and telling your story. While there is no question that high-profile journalists at major outlets bring a level of prestige and cultural value to the perception of your event, you shouldn’t expect a feature on your festival buried on the Huffington Post Facebook page to shift any tickets.
Given how passionately the fans love the festivals that they attended, as well as the wealth of user generated content and high levels of engagement, bringing in the right content specialist to help you tell the story of your event will greatly elevate your brand image and staying power.
Hiring an in-house team like Goldenvoice or Insomniac isn’t exactly a viable option for most festivals, but you can outsource to the right team or experienced storyteller and start really investing in your own narrative, as opposed to pinning all of your hopes on the PR machine.
A Solid Lineup or Announcement Can Build Online Hype
What publicists don’t tell you is that blogs relentlessly repurpose content from other sites, so getting your lineup noticed by one will set off a chain reaction. Yes, you’ll likely need a couple of press releases falling into the right laps, but the days of old media and journalistic standards have been swept away by the rapid shift towards digital.
The democratization of news and information has allowed anyone with a smartphone to become a publisher. Of course, there are major drawbacks to this, but the upside is that information can spread much faster than it once did, and the source of that information can be your own social platforms.
Creating your own highly visual and enticing social content will not only build your festival following, it can also lead to inquiries from traditional news organizations. A freelance or in-house content specialist will know exactly how to get your event in front of the right people whether that’s fans or big media organizations.
Your Social Reach is Probably Better Than the Blogs
Brand advocates are some of the most valuable fans at your festival. They are the people that rally the squad and their passion for your event translates into multiple tickets sold, year on year.
When it comes to the digital space, all of your fans should be considered advocates. They are ultimately more engaged than blog followers and news outlets because they have an emotional connection to your event. On a blog, you’re just another festival with just another lineup.
If you engage a call-to-action, perhaps encouraging fans to tag a friend for a chance to win tickets, you will see your reach on a post grow vastly. The result is that you’re building a family of connections, encouraging friends to bring friends and the resulting network will be felt at your event.
These call-to-actions can often fall flat on blogs because it lacks the same emotional appeal. When you put focus into building engagement on your own social pages or website, you’ll be able to get your message out there in your own unique way.
Publicity is a valuable commodity, and some publicists are hungry, creative and will go the extra mile to make sure you are getting what you want. But an increasing number are doing the bare minimum – sending press releases and calling it a day. There has never been a better time to generate your own buzz and build your audience, and with budgets getting tighter and tighter, content can be the perfect way to promote your event and sell tickets.