Author: Emily Denholm, ds-connex team member
We can all agree that social media is a simple, easy, and inexpensive way to promote your Down syndrome walk event. It’s also extremely effective. Our 2014 research reports showed us that 48% of traffic to Stride sites in 2014 came from social media. The usage of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. are all necessary channels for getting the word out about your event. It’s important to remember though, that social media cannot be the only method of event promotion; there’s still that other 52% that plays a role.
So, what are other effective ways to encourage walk registration and donations outside of social media? We asked Down syndrome walk coordinators who use Stride how they promote their walks in addition to social media. Their responses fell into 4 main categories: broadcast, print, digital, and community.
Broadcast continues to remain a strong avenue for reaching thousands of people at once. This year, many of our ds-connex partners engaged local news and radio stations in their walk events. Involvement ranged from packaged stories, to securing a station talent to emcee, to public service announcements and even walk day coverage. DSACO’s Columbus Buddy Walk® had a live truck present on their walk day and had six live television spots from 7am to 10am. They also had two emcees, one a personality from a local TV station and the other a DJ from a local radio station.
The Spartanburg Buddy Walk® (Family Connection of South Carolina) also found a unique way to incorporate local television personality, Jack Roper, into their walk. Jack agreed to take pies in the face from top team captains on the morning show the week of the walk to help generate awareness and reward top teams for the fundraising efforts. He also created his own personal fundraising page for supporters to donate to the walk! To view the clip of his pie in the face segment, visit: http://ow.ly/UeIEF.
Print is another category our partners utilized this year. Promotion in this area took many different forms, including newspaper articles, yard signs, flyers to pass out at local events, posters that were hung up around the community, direct mailings, and billboards. S.M.I.L.E. on Down syndrome’s SMILE Mile received donated space for billboards around Evansville and their only out of pocket cost was the printing. They partnered with a local TV news station who captured one self-advocate seeing his billboard for the first time. His reaction was priceless – http://ow.ly/UhVjK.
The digital medium is also a powerful communication avenue. For many event coordinators, this category refers mainly to email communication. Whether it’s announcing their Stride site is open, sharing details about long term or short term fundraising incentives, or sending reminders about important walk details and deadlines, email is one of the most direct channels of communication an organization can utilize to promote the walk to a targeted audience. This year, we also saw some ds-connex partners tap into digital advertising with Google AdWords through Google’s nonprofit grant program. The Atlanta Buddy Walk® (DSAA), who participated in the grant, saw 5% of their total site visits come from their AdWords campaign!
In addition to the above, several walk coordinators also incorporated grassroots efforts into their walk promotion, utilizing in-person opportunities to get the word out. The Owensboro Buddy Walk® (Green River Area Down Syndrome Association) held a yard party with a local radio station where they sold lunches and taped flyers about the walk to the boxes (photos: http://ow.ly/UcWPb). Other Down syndrome organizations passed out information at their other events leading up to the walk.
Making the most of all marketing channels available is the most powerful way to reach more people with your message, to spread the word even farther about your event and engage more people year after year in your organization’s mission.