Friday, January 9, 2009

How to: Promote a Figure Skating Event

Ice Girl’s coach, Ice Coach, is the Learn to Skate Director at a local rink and is hosting events for National Skating Month.

In my day job, I’m an education writer. I love a good press release and the local media are no different. The U.S. Figure Skating Association sent Ice Coach a packet with canned press releases for a media coordinator to send to the local media. If you’re ever the media coordinator for an event, here are my tips to help you get more people at your event than you know what to do with.

Develop a media list. Create this as a spreadsheet during the initial planning stages of the event. Make columns for checking off tasks that you have done: send press release, send news release, send calendar listing.

Write a donations letter. It’s wise to ask for sponsors for a community event like National Skating Month. Sponsors can offer you T-shirts and money for prizes and pizza. Look up your local Chamber of Commerce online for a list of area businesses and send out your letter. In your letter, stress the benefits of association with your family event. Offer to announce their business’s name during the event and include their logo on your event’s site and all published materials. Keep sponsorships accessible to your community’s budget and have levels of sponsorship for businesses to choose from. Be sure to write a thank-you letter after the event and include a photo of the many happy skaters.

Use e-mail. Send out press releases, news alerts, and calendar listings by e-mail. Be up front in the subject line. Write something like this: Press Release: free open skate or News Alert: National Skating Month Events.

Canned press releases. The press releases were pretty good, and the folks at USFSA even highlighted parts that the media coordinator should update with local events and times. I tweaked ours a bit to reflect more of the local nature of the events, but I left the last paragraphs (about USFSA as an organization) alone.

Canned news alerts. USFSA included these in the package, too. News alerts are useful to send to the media to remind folks that the event is taking place next week.

Calendar listings. USFSA didn’t include these in their kit, but make these a priority for your media campaign. Type up the basics (date, time, place, event, Web site, contact information) and be prepared to add it yourself to community events calendars or submit it to the general information e-mails. In the subject line of your e-mail write: calendar listing: something, something, something.

Suggest a news story. E-mail your local TV station and invite reporters to come for a free lesson. Can area reporters learn to skate? Find out!

Save as text files. Don’t send attachments – everyone is too worried about viruses to open them. Save your press releases, etc., as .txt files, open them using Notepad or something similar, and copy and paste into e-mails and online forms. Notepad removes your word processor’s formatting and sends more cleanly than copying and pasting from Word.

Prepare for a crowd. Holy buckets! I think we exceeded the capacity limit for the rink yesterday. We certainly ran out of skates for the free open skate.

Share what works for you! Drop me a comment!


Mary Lu said...


Another thing is to get the press to a pre-learn to skate session prior to the actual event. The best targets are your local morning tv shows. grin Get them there the day or two before the free learn to skate... be sure the banners and materials are all together, and even set it up as a live remote. Play up the angle of how the learn to skate, was the beginning of a number of local skaters moving into competitive or syncho' skating. You can even play up the Dancing-- er Skating with the Stars angle. It brings them in by the busload! AND it brings in more skaters the next day or two for the real event.

Ice Mom said...

Very smart, Mary Lu!

Ice Mom said...

I forgot one! Post someone at the door with a hand-held people counter (also called a clicker counter). When the photographer from the local newspaper shows up, it's nice to be able to tell him how many people are out on the ice. It's also good to use the number in next year's donation letter and promotional materials.