Promoting your public engagement event
This toolkit is for University staff and students who are looking for advice on how to promote their public engagement activities.
The page covers:
- Effective communication
- Examples of some free promotional tools
- Examples of some paid for marketing services
When communicating with the public it is important to maintain brand consistency and design all promotional materials with the University’s visual identity in mind. For guidance on visual identity see the University’s marketing webpages.
It is also important to adapt the style and content of your communications to the intended audience:
'To be a good communicator you must always put yourself in the position of the people you’re trying to communicate with - understand what they’re likely to be thinking about, what they value, and what they don’t. Often this can be done instinctively using your ability to empathise and sympathise, but it can also help to ask for feedback. Reflect on this and you won’t go far wrong' - Leon Mallet, Social & Digital Media Officer
Free promotional tools
The University’s What's On site
The What’s On website promotes public events hosted by the University. In addition to the website, the What’s On team also produce a printed brochure three times a year that is circulated around campus and mailed out to subscribers. Both the website and brochure are great resources for promoting your event to the public for free, and require minimal staff time.
To get your event in the What’s On brochure and on the website you just need to submit an event form via the website.
Please note – if you want your event to be included in the printed brochure you must submit your form at least 10 weeks before the brochure start-date. The brochure is printed three times a year, covering the following periods:
- 1 February to 31 May
- 1 June to 30 September
- 1 October to 31 January
For more information contact the What’s On team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University’s myAnnounce system
If you are interested in advertising your event to staff and / or students you can use the myAnnounce email system which is available via MUSE. The system allows you to send mass emails out to specific groups of staff and students (or if appropriate, everyone).
Please note – the myAnnounce system is moderated and all messages are subject to approval. In some cases it can take several days for an email to go through the system so please send requests a week or two in advance.
For more information about the system please see the CiCS webpage.
External email marketing
Targeted email marketing can be an effective way of promoting your event to people or groups who may be interested in the subject. Websites such as Sheffield Help Yourself have databases of local organisations and interest groups that may be willing to promote your event to their members.
Please note – there are strict guidelines for direct marketing so we advise against emailing individuals unless they have already agreed to being contacted. Instead, we recommend contacting relevant organisations and interest groups. For further guidance on marketing regulations see the ICO website.
Twitter can be a useful tool for marketing your event for free, but doing so effectively can sometimes be difficult or time consuming, especially if you do not have an existing account with an established audience. To get you started, here are some tips for making the most of your Twitter promotion:
- Ask established University or other related accounts (e.g. @sheffielduni, @sheffuniwhatson) to post or retweet about your event
- Find relevant social media accounts using the search bar and tweet at them asking them to retweet or mention your event
- Find an existing and relevant hashtag and use this in your tweets so that they will show up in Twitter searches
- Create your own hashtag and ask people to use this before, during and after the event to build up a buzz – the hashtag can also be used later for Twitter analysis
Media coverage can be a great way of raising your profile and promoting your event, and can significantly increase the reach of your message. Corporate Affairs have a dedicated Media Team who can offer advice on how to promote your event to the media.
Paid for marketing services
For example costs, see our pubic engagement costings guide.
Billboard and poster advertising
Advertising on billboards and posters in the city can be an effective way of reaching a broad section of the local community.
There are a number of companies in Sheffield who provide poster campaign services, including City Centre Posters who specialise in small format advertising in city centre locations.
You can also place advertising at bus & tram stops, in shopping centres and cinemas and on buses.
Due to the cost of poster campaigns we would generally only recommend using them for a series of events, i.e. a festival. For further information and guidance on running an advertising campaign of this scale contact the Marketing Campaigns team at email@example.com.
Another effective method of marketing your event to a wide audience is through leaflet distribution. Companies such as Opus Independents will distribute your event brochures or flyers out to places of high public interest (e.g. cafés, libraries, cinemas) in key areas of the city.
Newspaper or magazine advertisements
Placing an advertisement in a newspaper or magazine is a great way of raising awareness of your event and reaching a large audience. We would suggest running a print advertisement about one week before the event.
Due to the high cost of newspaper and magazine advertising we would only recommend using them for large-scale events. For further information and guidance on placing adverts in print contact the Marketing Campaigns team at firstname.lastname@example.org.