Last night, June 7th was the first installment of the 2010 P.R. Bazaar hosted by Wendi Winters and held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis at 333 Dubois Road. I was one of nine panelists who made themselves available to answer questions on “Just how do I publicize my event?” or “How do I get someone to write a story about my organization?” or “How do I get the photos I took published?” This P.R. Bazaar will be repeated next week, same time and same place. The doors open at 6:00 p.m. and there is a request for a donation to cover the overhead expenses ie use of the facilities and the free snacks keeping in mind that this event is a “public service” gig meant to be helpful to both nonprofits, government agencies, small businesses and to members of the press as well.
If you need help publicizing something, particularly something community related this is a great event you should not miss. Next week there will only be six panelists but they include representatives from The Chesapeake Music Guide, The Capital, WNAV. Chesapeake Family, and What’s Up? Media Group along with Keith Oliver who teachers public relations to U.S. Marines and has recently written a book on public relations.
How did the P.R. Bazaar get started, well I will shamelessly tell you that I started this event approximately 10 years ago as the Communications Chair of the Anne Arundel County Arts Council. The purpose was to help our 40 plus non profit arts organizations get a better idea of how to publicize their activities and expand their audiences. I limited the number of panelists to no more than six and tried to alternate from year to year the type of media representation by focusing one year on newspapers and magazines and another year on television, radio, and websites. After my term finished as a board member of the arts council the event was not continued and fortunately Wendi liked the idea so much that she picked it up and ran with it. (As this prolific freelance journalist does with many things!) She has expanded its reach to run two sessions and serve a larger variety of participants.
Sadly I noticed that this year there was no representation from two of our major area newspapers: The Washington Post or The Baltimore Sun. They did provide some information to be included in the booklet given to all participants but I could tell from the questions I was being asked that no one was sitting down and reading the booklet. I’m going to assume that the editors from The Post and The Sun felt too overworked to attend the event. Several of the panelists felt compelled to tell the audience just how overworked they were and how their publications were struggling under the shadow of a tenuous economy that had forced management to reduce the staff and size of their organization. I learned that Maryland Public Television no longer has a communications department and thus the development staff are now responsible for communications. I learned that the Annapolis Times closed its doors in 2009 due to lack of revenue but recently reopened, albeit at 12 pages, with support from the African American business community. When it came my turn to speak, I chose to focus on what What’s Up? does publish and produce on several media platforms. As to being overworked, suffice it to say that I do not have time to chat on the phone or meet for coffee unless you are willing to rendez-vous at 7:00 a.m. I carefully focus my time on completing targeted projects and multi-task as much as possible. When special projects editor Sarah Hagarty asked me this morning how last night went, I suggested she read my blog I was about to write.
I met lots of nice people. There were about 50 attendees, plus the panelists and volunteers (many of whom were members of Wendi’s family) so there was definitely a good sized crowd. This year the event took on a more intimate format. Attendees sat at large round tables and the panelists moved from table to table every 7 minutes to answer questions. While it may have enabled each panelist to focus only on their publication and not listen to how their colleagues responded to a question, it did mean that I had to answer some of the same questions over and over again. The most asked question: When are your deadlines? So for everyone reading this I’ll just put it in writing. If you want someone to be published in the calendar, we need to receive it 45 days in advance of the month in which the event occurs. It you want to pitch a story, try to think in terms of one year in the future. More time sensitive short articles can be taken on six months in the future. Remember that in order for a monthly magazine to be printed and on the newstands by the end of the preceeding month it needs to get to the printer a month in advance.