Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Event Marketing in The Spotlight

An Interview With Michelle Ackerman
When preparing for events, Ackerman said the Gazette tries to publicize them in as many relevant outlets as possible.

At this year’s conference, we’ll be highlighting some of the industry’s best practices across the verticals. Events are in the spotlight, as we explore how event marketing can improve the revenue in each vertical. One of the presenters you can look forward to hearing is Michelle Ackerman, who will be focusing on Parade of Homes.We caught up with Ackerman to discuss her experience creating and planning events with the Colorado Springs Gazette. She has spent three years with the Gazette and 23 years in newspapers, giving her years of experience establishing beloved events in Colorado Springs. Ackerman says she plans to inform her session with not only her own experience, but with input from other newspapers that have planned successful events as well.

Community events instill a sense of connection between newspapers and local residents. As Ackerman explained, events have a two-fold benefit for newspapers, “A lot of community events drive revenue and bring together advertisers and their audience.”

She gave an example of a particularly beloved event held by the Gazette called the Pikes Peak Education Fair. The K-12 fair is a perfect fit for the area, which Ackerman described as having a unique market, saying, “Students don’t have to stay in their district, and there is strong competition between charter, private and public schools.”

Schools purchase booths at the fair, offering parents a one-stop shop to learn everything they need to know about schools in the area before deciding where to send their children. Ackerman said the Gazette does thorough marketing for the event, advertising in not only the newspaper, but also the Pikes Peak Parent, a monthly magazine. They also attract attendance for the education fair by including exhibits from local zoos and safety demonstrations.

When preparing for events, Ackerman said the Gazette tries to publicize them in as many relevant outlets as possible. “[We advertise in the] Print product, social media and radio, which is effective in our area, and on niche websites, including a parent website and military website, as well as the Gazette’s Facebook and on,” she explained.

The Gazette also holds two annual job fairs. Ackerman stressed the importance of knowing your audience in order to build attendance, saying, “Build off their interests and know businesses that want to attract that audience.” She also encouraged departments to involve as many people on staff as possible, including, but certainly not limited to the circulation and production departments.

If your ad department is looking to plan a community event, Ackerman had some advice to dispense, “Plan as far ahead of time as you can, create a timeline so you can find quality exhibitors and advertisers. Get the word out, because people are busy — give them time.”

Register for the 2012 WCAA Conference, Sept. 23-26, to learn more about creating and organizing events from Ackerman, Carla Royter, Leslie Nagy and keynote speaker Jason Taylor.