Communication for your public and outdoor event
Public communications in the lead up to all events is essential and should be incorporated into the marketing and communications strategy. Consider messaging, consultation, communications channels and timeliness when developing your pre-event public communication plan.
Develop key messages
Your plan should include messages that have been approved by and are consistent with relevant stakeholders, such as the NSW Police Force, the Transport Management Centre and local council.
Messages should include:
- transport issues including arrangements, changes to regular services, additional services, special fares
- traffic arrangements including special event clearways and road closures
- parking facilities
- special arrangements, including how people with disability can access the venue and facilities
- what to bring, and what not to bring to the event such as alcohol or glass
- health messages, such as “Plan B – Don’t drink and drive” and “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide”
- services and facilities available at the event
- sustainable practices at the event, and how patrons can enhance these practices
- specific conditions of entry to the event
- where to purchase tickets and ticketing conditions
- event times
- the entertainment program or line-up.
Consult with the community
As the event organiser, it is your responsibility to inform residents and businesses about impacts from your event to traffic and road use in the local area, such as any intention to implement roads closures or special event clearways.
Identify communications materials and channels
Using various communication channels and materials will help promote your event to a wide audience.
You should also be regularly disseminating public communication messages about the impact of your event through your communication channels in the lead-up to the event. Relevant agencies should also be disseminating messages through their communication channels.
Channels and materials may include:
- social media
- your event website
- other websites, including what’s on guides or tourism sites
- electronic direct mail (EDM)
- the media (newspapers, news websites and TV news)
- printed marketing collateral — posters, brochures and flyers
- advertising billboards and signage, in line with council and community standards and regulations
- television and radio ads
- consultations for mitigating impacts on local businesses and residents
- letterbox drops to promote the event but also to inform people and businesses of the event in case they are affected by it
- raffles or prizes that promote the event, with prizes from sponsors or stallholders
- partnerships in exchange for cobranding or advertising space at the event, including with local newspapers and radio stations.
- an event launch, media event or pre-event party — this may also help raise funds to support the event.
Communication materials can include:
- a call to action
- website address
- social media handles
- phone number
- organiser logos
- sponsor logos.
Schedule when you will communicate
Establish when you need to speak to stakeholders, check deadlines for submitting documents, the amount of notice residents need about the event and so on.
Identify key contacts
Be sure to use your local media effectively as this will increase your reach and ultimately your attendance at the event. Finding the most appropriate contact will help you to gain access to the communication channel to increase your reach and, ultimately, attendance at your event.
Communication during your event
During your event, you will need to communicate to event attendees, staff and contractors working at your event and relevant agencies.
Your public communications plan should reflect how you will communicate with people during your event, and could include:
- social media
- the event website and an app
- a public address (PA) system
- portable message boards
- electronic variable message signs
- screens near the stage area or around the event
- other forms of signage
- information booths
- volunteers and wayfinders
- printed guides or programs
- using SMS to send event updates and news to mobile phones.
Establish communication protocols in advance to ensure important information is communicated quickly and clearly by those working at the event. Protocols should reflect the command and control structure of the event, and be in line with the emergency communications plan.
Consider the reporting procedures between:
- staff, volunteers, contractors and suppliers – 2-way radios may be preferable as mobile phone signals can sometimes become blocked in crowded areas
- event staff, emergency services and NSW Police Force – ensure you have a list of who to contact in case of an emergency and establish how you will contact them
- event staff and those who have access rights to the event, such as local council and inspection officers
- attendees and staff – work out how you will provide essential information such as the location of facilities, as well as where to take lost children and protocols for their safe return to parents and guardians
- the event coordination centre and the emergency response room (if different)
- representatives in the event coordination centre
- representatives in the emergency response room.
Assign someone during your event to keep a radio log of key communication, including messages broadcast and messages transmitted over 2-way radios. This information will be vital if an emergency or crisis situation arises and it also aids future planning for similar events.
Staff briefing and training
It is also recommended that you brief all staff and volunteers on how to use the radios, change the battery and use correct radio protocols.
Social media offers a dynamic and cost-effective way of engaging the target audience before, during and after the event.
Plan ahead and select the most appropriate platforms and conversations to have with the event audience.
If you engage someone to manage your social media, make sure they are able to handle and diffuse issues, as well as monitor messages and the media.
During your event, plan to use social media to:
- raise awareness of your event – plan to share interesting content to encourage greater engagement by those onsite and participation by those yet to attend
- communicate messages to the public about traffic, transport, health and safety at the event
- monitor what your audience says during and after the event, and use this information to improve operations and future events.
If the event impacts or affects traffic, it is important that the event’s social media tools link to relevant websites such as Live Traffic, and to social media sites to ensure that key messages are effectively shared.
Evaluate your communication
It is important to set measurable objectives for all communications activities, so you can benchmark success.
In order to measure the success of your communications and event you could evaluate:
- attendance figures
- number of telephone calls received regarding the event
- positive and neutral media coverage
- number of articles across all target media
- number of competition entries
- website visits, page views, time on site, peak times and click to sponsor sites
- social media engagement and virility
- feedback from stakeholders
- qualitative information obtained through debrief meetings with staff and stakeholders about the successes and/or failures of communication strategies
- patron data including age and postcode.
Capturing and recording data is important when reporting successes back to current and potential stakeholders, such as sponsors. It will also assist you to develop strategies for future years.
There are strict privacy laws governing collection of private information, so make sure you understand what you need to tell people before starting a customer database, and how the information you gather can be used.