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Publicity That Turns Heads

4. Choose your media. Now that you know what you have to offer and who you're offering it to, choose your media. The best media is aimed specifically at your target audience. If you post an ad in a newspaper, get it out of the religion section if you're targeting unchurched people. Why not advertise in the sports section for reaching more men? Where will your target audience see your posters and/or fliers? coffee shop bulletin boards? grocery stores? kids' schools? McDonald's?

Remember the adage that the medium is the message. If you want to reach people under 30 in a high-tech world, text-message them. Kathleen M. Joyce, in an article in Promo magazine, writes that "according to In-Stat/MDR, a research firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, there were 165 million mobile phone subscribers in the U.S. last year, 90% of whom can both send and receive text. These subscribers sent 30.2 billion messages in 2004, compared to 11.9 billion in 2003, the firm says."

5. Schedule your publicity. Advertising experts say that it takes at least seven "touches" for a message to sink in. So consider what those touches will be for your audience. Then schedule them similarly to this:

• Web page for your church's Web site created and posted eight weeks before the event. (Post your Web site on every promotional piece.)

• Posters in public areas seven weeks before.

• Fliers delivered to homes six weeks before.

• Church members encouraged to invite guests each week before the event.

• Postcards mailed three weeks before.

• Text-messaging two weeks before.

• Phone calls made one week before.

6. Be original. "Consider the 'not so obvious' options, such as service," says Jeff Storm, senior art director of church resources at Group Publishing, Inc. "Passing out free water at a 'cause' walk-a-thon with your church logo displayed can speak louder than yet another mass postcard mailing. Be creative. Get your team together and think of fun and innovative ways to spread the news."

A dressed-up character holding a sign on the sidewalk outside your church catches attention. Ask to hang a banner publicizing your event at your high school's sporting events. Sell tickets to your event (if there's a charge) at local grocery stores. Think of ways to drive traffic to your event's Web page on your church's Web site. Perhaps people can download music, enter a contest, or find the answer to a silly question by going to your site.

7. Follow up. There's a reason catalog companies ask you to tell them the number on the back of the catalog when you place an order. They're tracking their promotional efforts to see which ones work well.

The best way to guide your next publicity campaign is to formally or informally ask people where they heard about your current event. If you find that no one even saw the newspaper ad you spent big dollars on, you either need to position the ad in a new place for another test run or pull the ad to spend money elsewhere.

Not only does this publicity campaign follow-up inform your next campaign, but it also teaches you about your target audience. And understanding the people you're trying to reach helps you fine-tune your delivery systems for the most important message you need to publicize to your community -- the gospel.
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