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Promotions and Media Relations Guide

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Nuit Blanche Saskatoon, SK. 2023. Photo by Jae Kim

Getting Started

You’ve planned your event, and now it’s time to get everybody excited about attending it! This Guide has been developed to give you the marketing and media know-how to get your audiences to take notice and action! The contained tips apply year-round to help increase public awareness of your brand or organization.

We know that success takes planning–and support! Through your Dashboard, you will find Resources with a range of marketing materials available to download for use in your campaigns.

Use this Guide and Culture Days marketing tools, resources, and tips to:

  • Increase the chance of a well-attended event

  • Increase awareness of your organization, business, or artistic practice

  • Create lasting audience connections that serve you long after the event is over

Key Messages & Keywords 

Download the Culture Days 2024: Key Messaging Guide

A cross-country celebration of arts, culture, and creativity. 

The annual Culture Days celebration takes place over three weeks every fall. Thousands of free events are presented in hundreds of communities across Canada, welcoming millions of participants to create, share, and celebrate a life enriched by arts and culture. 

Anyone can organize an event and participate in Culture Days! From grassroots community volunteers, public libraries, and independent artists and collectives to major arts, culture, heritage institutions, specialty festivals, and municipalities, everyone is invited to participate!

Additional Messaging Options  

  • Culture Days is an opportunity to collectively express the full spectrum of arts, culture, and creativity that exists in communities across Canada.

  • Join millions nationwide in sharing how arts, culture, and creative expression enrich and define your life and community!

  • Find free, hands-on arts and culture activities and events at Culture Days! 

  • Discover and participate in free local arts and culture events and activities.

  • Choose Your Creative Adventure. Explore and express your creativity at Culture Days.

  • Find the Familiar and the Fascinating at Culture Days. Find a range of free, hands-on arts and culture activities.

  • Get Involved! Support your local community's artists, creators, and creative institutions by participating in Culture Days.

    Keywords

    Inclusive / Unexpected  

    Curious / Encouraging

    Creative / Empathetic 

    Supportive / Colourful 

    Energizing / Fun

    Welcoming / Relevant 

Winter Landscape Acrylic Painting, St. Catharines, ON, 2022. Photo: St. Catharines Library

Promoting Your Event

Promoting your event is about attracting interested people who are looking for what you have to offer. Before planning any campaign or making content, consider the following to make your marketing efforts more effective.

What Do We Want The Audience To Do? Take Notice, Take Action.

Once you’ve attracted attention from your audience, you need to help them through the “buyer” process. For instance, if you need people to register for your event rather than just showing up, include those instructions in the description and display the registration link clearly. 

  1. Find the carrot that makes your event unmissable

What’s the thing that makes your event really special, unique or interesting? Once you identify that “carrot,” find a way to include it in a concise description of your event. The goal is to help people quickly understand the benefits of attending. 

  • Think about how you would be enticed to attend your event. Develop your marketing and social media messaging with that result in mind.

  • Unsure if you’ve crafted a winning description? Ask a long-term “customer” or friend to read it. If they understand and think they will attend, you’ve done it! 

  1. Focus on Your Audience:

Your audience includes current customers or participants and those who may be interested in exploring your event or class. People are the most important factor in good marketing. Stay focused on giving them what they need to decide to say ‘yes’ to your event. 

  • Address expectations and concerns: What information do they need to prepare for a great experience?

  • Answer questions, calm concerns, and provide guidance for every scenario.

  1. Seal The Connection with Clear, Simple Language

Remember, we all learn and understand things differently. Plus, considering English or French isn’t everyone’s first language, it’s key to remember to keep things very simple and clear so that just about anyone can understand. 

  • Use a clear call-to-action—tell people what you want them to do in preparation for a fantastic experience.

  • Incorporate Culture Days Key Messages.

  • Maintain your personality and express things like a real person (so people can relate!)

Learn more tips on how to maximize marketing efforts in our past webinar ‘Last-Minute Promo for Event Organizers’. Find more presentations to support the planning and promotion of your events on our Webinar Series Page.

Culture Days Webinar Series

The Culture Days Webinar Series provides insight, skill development, and knowledge aimed to help strengthen your public engagement practices. Each webinar includes presentation recordings with English and French captions, and provides downloadable resources, summaries, and tip-sheets. Here you can register for upcoming webinars or watch past recordings. ## Culture Days 101 Info Session _(March 21, 2024)_ https://youtu.be/rL7ClGiJ3xw?si=HXfO5L_wW0Cudjgg In this info session, learn m...

If you are interested in learning about the impact of Culture Days and benefits of participating, look through and download the Culture Days 101 Info Deck.

Collaboration (working with others and expanding your network)

To help attract more participants to your event, consider collaborating with others in your immediate vicinity (building, block, neighbourhood, etc.). Use the Culture Days website map to find others in your area who have registered an event, and reach out to them through the contact information in their event description.

Collaboration helps you to:

  • Tap into each others’ networks, expand your collective outreach to new audiences, and increase the likelihood of media covering your events. 

  • Attract more people to your events, as the public will be interested in attending multiple events in one area.

  • Lessen the workload by dividing marketing tasks. 

  • Create and distribute the free customizable promotional materials Culture Days offers, promoting all the events in your ‘hub.’ 

Elemental Festival, Kagawong, ON. 2023. Photo courtesy of 4elements Living Art

Planning Your Marketing Channels & Tactics

Marketing channels are the tools we use to distribute marketing materials and communications. Using a few methods together is the best way to get widespread exposure before, during and after Culture Days. Although many marketing channels exist, it's best to make the most of those you already use to connect with your audiences. The following are select examples of effective channels and uses: 

Social Media

Use social media’s inherent immediate nature to build excitement, share info encouraging people to take action, such as sign up or register, and provide a sample of what they can expect at your event.

  • Post behind-the-scenes teasers and what to expect in the weeks and days leading up to your event.

  • Share time-sensitive reminders and information.

  • Provide links to learn more, register and build community.

  • Repurpose user-generated content.

Email & Newsletters

If you have an existing email list or blog, you already have a group of interested and engaged contacts. These people have given you permission to connect. Use these channels to promote participation and build brand awareness.

  • Use present-tense language and focus on action prompts and information-sharing.

  • Share deeper info about what to expect and how to get involved. 

  • Use email to collaborate with others and share other ways to connect with you, such as social media. 

Website & Blog

Feature your event on your blog or personal website if you have one. Make sure that this post highlights what makes your event stand out.

Read or watch community spotlights in our Culture Days365 Blog Series.

Lumel Studios in Whitehorse, YK

Lovingly nicknamed by locals as, 'the Happiness Factory', [Lumel Studios](https://www.lumelstudios.com/) is a community space in downtown Whitehorse, Yukon. At Lumel, doors are open to all, and they not only invite the community to learn the art of glass blowing but to build lasting and meaningful connections with whoever walks in. https://youtu.be/-wPf2DfdX7I Produced by: Culture Days Marketing / Network Coordinator: Fernanda Sierra Suárez Producer / Editor: Luísa Cruz Featuring: Lumel...

Meet our Organizers: The Gallery on 47th Street

Last year, Canada was affected by a record-setting series of wildfires. Roaring to life in early May 2023 and continuing into the Fall, parts of all 13 Provinces and Territories were engulfed in flames. In the North, as the fire chewed toward capital city limits, an evacuation order for Yellowknife, NT, was announced by mid-August. Yellowknife is a vibrant city-landscape of natural beauty, resilience, and strong community ties. Despite the wreckage and displacement caused by the fires, Ainsle...

In-Person or Real-Life Advertising 

In the digital age, it’s easy to forget about in-person marketing opportunities! Traditional ways of communicating, such as posters and word-of-mouth, are still valuable methods for attracting audiences. 

  • Make use of Culture Day marketing assets to create visually appealing materials you can use on-site. 

  • Create banners, signs, and flyers you can use to inform passersby. 

  • Make use of local traffic, partnerships, and friends to spread the word about your event.

  • Share your event with family and friends and ask them to share it with their networks too!

Running Your Marketing Campaigns 

What content are you creating? → Who is making the content? → Where and When does the content run?

Now that you know how you’ll promote your event and what content you’ll make, it’s time to plan so it happens! Before you begin, plan who will do what and when each item is needed. Use content planning calendars and scheduling platforms to add automation to your marketing. 

  • What content do you need? 

  • Who is making it? Who is responsible for its quality?

  • Where and when will it run? Who is responsible for scheduling and posting content? 

Working With Media 

Identifying the Right Media 

The Media never sleeps. Using the media to help gain widespread reach for your event is a great marketing tactic. Take advantage of their constant need for content.

To start, it’s important to understand the media outlets in your community and who you should contact in each outlet, as it’s a key part of effective media relations. 

Developing a media list is one of the most important aspects of media relations. It is important to understand the media outlets in your community and who you should contact in each outlet. Please see the above note regarding Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (in the Getting Started section of this Guide) when you are building your lists.

Structuring your list to include all relevant contact information for your target reporters (outlet, name, phone number, email address, covered topics) will facilitate easy and efficient distribution of media materials like story pitches, media releases, and listings advisories.

Developing The Pitch

A story pitch can be in several different formats, but it is often communicated simply via email. The story pitch outlines the who, what, when, where, why, and how, and a newsworthy angle of your event, and ultimately contains an invitation to ‘cover’ the story. 

  • Create a compelling story angle.

  • Personalize the pitch for each media outlet and journalist.

  • Include relevant event details and visuals. 

Sending The Pitch

Pitch the 'right' person the 'right' way

  • Find the contact info of the person (or role) you’re pitching. Start by identifying the “beat” (e.g. “Arts and Entertainment”) the reporter or editor is responsible for. It’s worth the effort, as personalization gives your pitch a better chance of being picked up.

  • The common most roles you’ll pitch are:

    • Assignment Editor

    • Producer or Segment Producer

    • Reporter or Journalist

    • Editor or Section Editor

Help them 'see' your pitch 

  • Paint a picture with your words to help the reader better understand your vision for the story. Include visual details and provide ideas for coverage. 

  • Keep the pitch short and concise. Pick the most interesting and compelling elements and include them at the top of the pitch. 

  • Timing matters. Send your pitch with enough time for it to be considered and executed. Don’t be shy–members of the media are busy people, and sometimes a pitch can get lost. If you don’t hear back after a couple of days, politely follow up!

Commemorate Truth & Reconciliation, Toronto, ON. 2023 at Koerner Hall. Photo by Lisa Sakulensky

Who should you contact?

Bloggers

  • Blogs can have a substantial reach. A blogger may agree to feature your event, craft interesting stories or share crucial information about your event with the online community.

  • Contact bloggers by email and provide them with a backgrounder of your event (see the Culture Days Media Kit for an example of a backgrounder) and a potential piece for their blog. For example, a Q&A session with the community organizer or the top 5 things to see at your Culture Days event.

Community Newspapers

  • Community Newspapers remain a valuable way to reach people in the local community and cover local stories. Since these publications are often small, with a small staff, sending a pitch or listing information to the editor should be sufficient.

Daily Newspapers

  • Section Editors manage various newspaper sections such as City, Lifestyle, Arts and Life, or Travel. Most Culture Days events would be a fit for the City or Arts and Life sections.

  • Photo Editors are responsible for sending cameras out to events. If you’re sending a photo opportunity advisory, the photo editor is your ideal contact.

Radio Outlets

  • News Directors choose the news stories for the day. You could pitch an interview with a radio outlet suggesting that they feature Culture Days as the big news happening across the country, focusing on your event as a good example of Culture Days events happening locally.

  • Show Producers (e.g. Morning, Noon or Evening Show Producers) book interviews and determine what events will be covered for that day’s show. 

Television Outlets

  • Assignment Editors – If you don’t know who to contact, this should be your first choice. Assignment editors help get story ideas to the appropriate person at their outlet.

  • Show Producers (e.g.. Morning, Noon or Evening News Producers) book interviews and determine what events will be covered for that day’s show. If you feel comfortable speaking in public and on-air interviews, send a pitch that both covers your event and features an interview with you sharing more about the benefits of your Culture Days event.

Sidewalk Painting, Scugog, ON, 2023. Photo: Scugog Arts

Responding To Media Requests

If you’ve decided to email a story pitch or send out a media release to your local media contacts, it’s important to know how to handle any requests you generate. Be sure to respond immediately and evaluate the request, provide the reporter with relevant background materials, track the progress of the request and follow up when completed.

Effective Media Interviews 

Media interviews don’t need to be nerve-wracking or intimidating–it just takes practice! Below are some tips to help you prepare for and ace a media interview.

Before the interview:

  • Confirm what aspects of your event or story the reporter wants to focus on so you know what to expect. 

  • Write down 2-3 main points you want to make, along with facts, figures, and anecdotes to support your points.

  • Keep your messages short, simple, and high-level.

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare! Take 15 minutes before an interview to collect your thoughts and rehearse your words.

During the interview:

  • Avoid formal lingo/acronyms/jargon. Speak in plain language.

  • Keep your answers short and clear. 

  • The reporter’s question may be edited out, and your response should stand on its own, so repeating the question in your answer is a good idea. This is especially important for television interviews.

  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. Get your key points out quickly at the beginning of the interview, and don’t be afraid to repeat them.

  • Don’t say anything that you don’t want to read in print or online, hear on the radio or see on television.

  • Be enthusiastic, and keep in mind that you know more about the subject than the reporter does. Take advantage of this opportunity to tell your story!

After the interview:

  • Follow up promptly with any additional information you promised to provide.

  • Feel free to ask the reporter when the story will appear and whether you may have a link to share it with your networks.

2023 BC Culture Days Ambassador in Kelowna Cameron Gelderman. Photo by Mallory Gemmel

Media/Press Releases

A media, press, or news release is a short (i.e. maximum two pages) formal document that not only communicates all the information about your event (the who, what, when, where, why and how) but also more importantly communicates a newsworthy angle about your event: why it’s interesting and why media should cover it. A media release is traditionally sent out to media outlets (i.e. those on a media list) to help generate interest in an event ahead of time. It is usually followed up by an email or phone call (where appropriate) to those same media contacts to confirm if they’ve chosen to cover the story. A media release should be sent up to two weeks before your Culture Days activity.

Best Practices for Media Releases

  • Develop a relevant and attention-getting headline.

  • Answer who, what, where, when (date and time), and why.

  • Remain objective – you’re writing to inform, so make sure you keep it short and snappy. The most important information should appear first; less important information follows.

  • Include sponsor and supporter names and logos if applicable, usually after the pertinent information. 

  • Always be sure to include your contact information. The contact should be for the person who is available to handle media relations. 

  • Include social handles and a website address.

  • Proofread! Before you hit send, ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.

Media & Listing Advisories

Media Advisory

Media Advisories should be limited to one page and are usually formatted with “Who,” “What,” “Where,” and “When” headings. Media advisories also note RSVP contact information so that media can confirm attendance, follow up with you regarding questions and know whom to contact when they arrive.

You should distribute a media advisory to your target journalists about one week before the Culture Days celebration and then again the day before your event to serve as a reminder. If your event is taking place on Sunday, be sure to send out this reminder on Friday. See and download the Culture Days Media Advisory template.

Listings Advisory

Listings Advisories are tools to increase public awareness and drive public participation in your event. Listings advisories are brief one-page documents that outline the location of your event, direct readers to your website, and detail what will happen at your event and who would be interested in attending.

A listings advisory aims to include your event in event calendars and event listings in print or online publications. Many publications with listings sections will have a form you can fill out, and you can simply copy and paste the information from your listings advisory into this form. Listings advisories can also be included in your pitches (see above) to provide basic information in a concise manner.

Ideally, you should distribute a listings advisory four to six weeks before the Culture Days celebration.

View and/or download the Media Sample: Press Release template and build your own.

Culture Days Boilerplate

Consider including this Culture Days Boilerplate at the base of your media documents. 

About Culture Days  

Culture Days has become the largest cultural event in Canada, attracting millions of annual attendees to thousands of free activities and performances hosted by artists, cultural organizations and municipalities in hundreds of communities across Canada. Culture Days highlights and amplifies the diverse arts and cultural life of our communities. As a leading national voice for an active and engaged cultural life, Culture Days provides a range of tools and skill development resources that lead to greater cultural engagement. The Culture Days annual national awareness campaign culminates in a three-week celebration of the arts. Culture Days is a registered charity. Visit culturedays.ca for more information. 

Financial support for Culture Days is provided by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts. Culture Days is also made possible through the support of Pattison (National Out-of-Home Media Partner), Cineplex Media (National Media Partner), and BT/A (National Creative Partner).  

"Rituals for Belonging" Exhibition, Toronto, ON, 2023. Photo: Sarah Hassanein