Given the crowded schedules of academics, it can be challenging to attract an audience to any campus event. As you prepare for the Players' visit, think carefully about what strategies have been successful in attracting people to attend past events in your department, college, or university. Below is a suggested framework taken from the tactics the Players use to cultivate audiences that you may find useful.
Determining the specific goals of your event will assist you in identifying what groups will be most fruitful to have in the audience. Once that ideal audience has been identified, be thoughtful about the best ways to reach your target demographic.
Don't reinvent the wheel. Identify other groups or individuals who have existing relationships with the group you hope to attract. For example: interested in opening up a conversation about how bias can detrimentally affect the promotion and tenure process? Perhaps the dean of your college would be willing to invite all current members of P&T committees to your event. Want to host a session about equity-forward teaching practices for graduate student instructors? Perhaps the graduate school on your campus would partner with you in promoting this event.
Send a save-the-date email or mailing well in advance of your event. The calendars of faculty and academic leaders fill up quickly, and they won't be able to attend your program if they have a conflicting commitment. Consider sending out a save-the-date message for your event at the beginning of the term in which it will be presented.
Send an invitation to the groups you have identified 4-6 weeks before your event. By this point, potential audience members should have a better sense of whether they will have time in their schedule to attend your event. Ask those you invite to RSVP or register at this time. Doing so will allow you to gauge likely attendance numbers, but also, importantly, it will give you a better sense of who will be in the room on the day of your event. This information can be valuable in shaping the facilitator's approach to framing the performance and engaging the audience. Contacting your audience at this time also offers an opportunity for you to determine if any attendees will need accommodations in order to fully participate in our session(s). The CRLT Players are committed to cultivating inclusive learning environments, and we will be happy to work with you to meet the identified needs of your audience. Our Venue Selection page identifies various considerations for accessibility and accommodations.
If your registration numbers are low, consider sending out a second invitation to other groups to increase the size of your audience.
Send a reminder to registrants 48 hours before your event. A lot can happen in a month, and registrants may forget they have committed to attend your event, or additional work responsibilities may have arisen that make attending difficult. Decrease the number of no-shows by sending a reminder that gets registrants excited about coming.
The quality of your promotional materials will be taken as an indicator of the quality of your programming. Professional-looking materials will attract larger audiences. The Players are happy to provide you with a PDF flyer advertising the relevant details for your event. Click this link to view a sample flyer. We will customize the date, time, location, photo, and sketch description. We are unable to offer customized promotional materials beyond this point. Please contact our Company Manager to request a PDF flyer.
If you choose to create your own promotional materials, we are also happy to review and respond to draft promotional materials. If you choose to go in this direction, you may want to consider the following:
Make your materials visually appealing. People spend very little time reading emails or mailers. Because of this, all of your materials need to be eye-catching and convey the necessary information quickly. To do this, consider:
- Including photos. Professional quality, high-resolution photos for many of the Players sessions can be downloaded from the individual session's page of our website. You can access a list of all available Players sessions on this page. To inquire about other images, please contact the Company Manager.
- Limiting the amount of text. For example, instead of a full paragraph description about the Players, describe our company in a single sentence and embed a link to our website.
- Avoiding dry, overly academic language. Be creative. Your event will be different from most other programs that your audience has attended. Signal this difference in the tone of the materials you create.
- Varying the look and content of your materials, especially with multiple mailings. Though the different materials you send to prospective audience members should be cohesive, they shouldn't be identical. Use a new photo or place it in a different location in your materials. Consider altering your tag line with each mailing.
Market this event at earlier events you host. Announce the Players' upcoming visit at the end of other sessions you lead or highlight it at other events you host.
Personally invite individuals that you feel are particularly important to have in attendance. If these individuals are well connected, encourage them to invite others to attend as well.
Identify a VIP who can act as a champion for your event. Will this performance address an issue important to the dean of one of your colleges? Would they be willing to send an invitation strongly encouraging attendance to your target audience?
Use social media. Are there groups on your campus that you would like to encourage to attend and that actively participate in some kind of social media? If so, investigate ways that you can make contact with this group through this medium.