Effective publicity is essential to the success of any event or organisation. Since the power student groups have relies on people, getting the word out is one of the most important things you will do. It requires a well-thought-out strategy and plan.
VISIBILITY: People should know about your event or campaign even if they're completely oblivious to everything else going on at your school.
SIMPLICITY: Keep your message short, understandable, and simple. People should get a good idea of what you're doing with just a brief description.
LANGUAGE: Don't use jargon, slogans, or acronyms without defining them. A complex issue can be explained in ways that even the most apathetic can understand.
POSITIVITY: Student Activist groups are often criticized for over-emphasizing the negative. In your publicity (as well as your activism in general), balance critique with positive alternatives.
CREATIVITY: Much publicity on campuses is dull, dull, dull. Be creative! One group put messages about their campaign in fortune cookies and handed them out. Colourful, visual, irreverent, interactive, 3-dimensional, eye-catching publicity is more effective. But don't let creativity obscure your message. Repetition: People should hear or read about your event at least seven times. No kidding. After the first few times, people who might not otherwise come or participate will become interested.
REPUTATION: You should do publicity both for your event and for your group in general. There is nothing wrong or shameful about promoting your group by clearly listing your group's name, a contact person the time of your next meeting, how people can get involved, etc.
Personal Contact - Word of Mouth - Personal contact is one of the best (and cheapest) means of publicity. Each of your members can bring at least a half dozen people. Ask professors to announce events in class or to let you do so.
Knowing the Regulations - Most schools have designated areas where you can post things and procedures for tabling. Know the regulations and the penalties. Some schools impose heavy fines for violations and may even rescind funding or official recognition. If you post off-campus, the local community's laws apply.
Poster Design - Keep it short, simple, loud, and eye-catching. Make your main message BIG-people should be able to see it from 20 feet away. Make the rest of your text SHORT-people should be able to read it in one minute. Keep it visually consistent more than one font or more than two colour’s is distracting. Don't make it too CROWDED by filling every space on the page. In fact, leaving blank space calls attention to the text. Pictures and graphics can really add to a poster if they are clear and powerful. Don't forget to clearly layout the time, date, and place of the event.
Where and when to poster - High-traffic areas such as dining halls, campus centres, etc. are good places. You will be competing for space and attention with every other group on campus. Don't limit your posting to one area of campus or just high traffic areas. There are many good spots to poster where you have a "captive audience" which has nothing to do but read your poster. Bathroom stalls, cafeteria lines, and bus stops are a few such places. On most campuses, bulletin boards are cleared of posters regularly. Put your posters up in remote areas several weeks in advance. Re-poster high traffic areas several times leading up to the event, with a final blitz a day or two before.
Leafleting - Leafletting a busy intersection, mail room or dining hall gets information to a large number of people. Leaflets are good for publicizing an immediate and urgent event, like an emergency rally, and for distributing info to passers-by at demonstrations, or actions. One person can distribute several hundred leaflets in an hour. You will need quite a few and should probably make them 1/2, 1/3 or ¼ page size to save money and paper. In the leaflet itself, ask people to pass it on to someone else or post it. Have more than one person leafletting at once. Be ready for rejections, as many people will ignore you, and even make snide remarks.
Newspapers - You can put ads in your school newspaper, but the price is usually high, and such ads are usually not as effective as posters. There are other ways to use your school newspaper for publicity. Many school papers sell much cheaper classified ads. Many also have calendars of what's going on around campus, which list events for free or cheaply. Letters to the editor and even guest editorials are a good way to publicize, if you don't make it a completely apparent self promotion. One group ran classified ads that pretended to be a dialogue between two lovelorn people flirting with each other. Everyone read and followed the saga. Some school papers are so starved for news that they will even do an article about your upcoming event.
Radio - Many radio stations, especially college stations, run free public service announcements. Send them an event notice
University TV – Does your university have a student run TV station? Get in touch and see if you can get on air.
Phone Trees - When you want to mobilize your supporters, a phone tree is an extremely useful and efficient tool. You can start a phone tree committee by passing out a sign-up sheet at a general meeting. From this list, elect a phone tree coordinator (usually an officer or a steering committee member, because they will most likely be aware of what is going on) who is in responsible for triggering the phone tree. The phone tree coordinator organizes the information to be disseminated, then calls phone tree committee members, who each have a list of people to call with information about the next meeting or event. For meetings, you only notify members of your group; for large public events, you could assign each core member to notify 5-10 additional supporters to turn out a really large crowd. The phone tree coordinator should be sure to check with committee members to see if they made their calls, and be prepared to take up the slack.
Chalking - Chalking on the sidewalks is as visible as spray painting, and it washes right off.. Chalking doesn't require any paper and the words can be as big as you like. Rules differ from campus to campus on whether chalking is allowed, SO CHECK.
Most campuses designate an area where student organizations can set up tables to distribute literature and recruit members. Many activists think that ‘tabling’ is a boring ritual consisting of a stack of literature on a table with a person sitting behind it doing homework or staring into space. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tabling must be active and dynamic in order to yield results.
Where to put fliers.