Quaker A-Z: P is for Publicity or Promotion

A blank billboard
Photo by Charlie Deets on Unsplash

All publicity is good publicity?

Publicity and Promotion are two words that often get a negative reputation. You hear them combined with ‘spin’, or ‘stunt’, or as ‘gimmicks’. 

Yet – internal and external communication is necessary to ensure your organisation thrives!
Internal communication
To ensure that people know things like:

  • There’s a garden working day, when to turn up, and that there will be cake to keep them going.
  • What book to buy for the new book discussion group – as well as when it’s meeting and where!
  • Who is bringing what to the open day event.

Not to forget our business meetings of course… where people need to know where and when to turn up, how to prepare, what to bring and if there will be cake.

Ensuring that there is collective understanding leads to greater engagement with the task at hand. 

External communication
To ensure people:
  • can discover you as a group or organisation
  • determine if you are open to newcomers or a closed shop
  • Are able to find trustworthy information so they know what you are and how you work/worship/interact with the outside world. 
  • Work out how they can access what you’re offering them.
  • Decide to attend an event, or contact you.

Even ensuring your accounts are filed on time means that someone looking for you won’t see that rather off putting, ‘late filing’ notice. Definitely negative publicity!

Planning to promote

Whatever you do will effect people’s knowledge about you – so planning to ensure it’s positive is a good idea.

Quakers call these plans ‘Inreach’ and ‘Outreach’. I like the visual of reaching out to people and trying to connect, showing that this is an activity rather than a passive expectation.
There are loads of ways to promote your buildings and communities – MBS offers a course on ‘How to Market your Meeting House’ and we have tips on outreach techniques too.
But today – how can you get people to turn up at your meeting? You’ve crafted a thoughtful agenda, wonderful draft minutes… and then are aware that some people never turn up, or read anything and if asked, tell you it’s all irrelevant. Rather disheartening!

Some points to ponder:

  • Who are you expecting/wanting to turn up? Are your messages aimed at them?
  • Do you actively tell people what you do, why you do it and why it impacts them?
  • Have you asked them what they would like and why they’ve not turned up?
  • Are your meetings accessible – in timing, but also with technology and child care? I’m old enough to remember when portable hearing loops were a thing that were carefully carried to each meeting house to ensure they were available. These days it would be portable zoom technology!
  • If you have regular meetings – are the recorded on a digital calendar? Do you let people subscribe to it so the meetings just turn up in their calendars? Are they on your website? And on any associated groups websites? So for Quakers – on the AM website, but also on all LM websites and calendars.
  • Are the papers linked to those calendar events? Easily accessible and readable?
  • Are the meetings and events talked about regularly and mentioned to newcomers? Or are they kept on a need-to-know basis?

Cautionary tale

I joined a new local Quaker meeting, and during one of my first visits asked the clerk,
‘What regular meetings do you have? What happens on first, second, third Sundays?’
The clerk helpfully ran through the rota of events, explaining when things changed due to AM or similar, and mentioned some annual events that the meeting was usually involved with, as I nodded along and took notes.
When the clerk stopped, someone in the group pointed out that they’d been attending for years and had never realised that there was such a regular rhythm. They’d turned up and accepted what was happening that week, were sad they’d missed last week’s event and only heard about the next weeks after the meeting so often couldn’t attend. But now they knew that xxxx was every first Sunday they could make an effort to attend!

In summary, take time to think through your goals and aspirations before compiling a plan for publicity. Put yourself in the shoes of potential attendees to your events and meetings. Think about how you communicate internally, to ensure everyone is in the know. As a second step, use any internal feedback to plan your external communications.  

Latest Posts