One of my favorite roles as a youth pastor is taking students out of their environment to experience a retreat or to serve their community. When this happens, more times than not, discipleship can more easily happen. To make these trips, events, retreats, and camps happen, we must clearly communicate through our promotions. After all, without promotion or some form of invitation, how will they know an event is happening? Here are some steps to successful youth promotion.
1. Create the event infrastructure. This includes a basic list of Who, What, Where, When, How much, and anything else families need to know. The “anything else” column can serve for special info like bringing your own lunch, leaving your cats at home, or special permission forms for the camp, resort, or for you to even take pictures of students, crazy, but true.
2. Decide how to promote. Hard prints can be made in virtually every size imaginable, but before you determine what your page will look like, keep practicality in mind. Will it be lost in a pocket and run through the wash? Will it even make it home? One of the best sizes is 4 X 6. You can’t get it in your pocket so you either fold it so it bulges in your pocket, or you just pass it off your parents—perfect! Online promotions can also be very beneficial. Utilize Facebook, Twitter, church Web sites, blogs, and so on. Getting the information into the hands of your student’s parents is just as valuable as in your students’, if not more. Go where they are, send a parent newsletter, create a parent info board, blog or post on parent’s social media
3. Draft a quick promotion timeline. It is important to get the information on to families well in advance. Some marketing firms suggest 4 weeks is plenty of time. But, if you count the three announcement videos that went in one ear and out the other, as well as the 7 flyers that went through the washing machine, some events are better off with 6-8 weeks. Other things can contribute to timelines like camp deposits, ski rental reservations, and transportation numbers. So leave yourself plenty of time.
4. Determine the look or creative pieces. If you’re going to do something in print, have a plan for what you want it to look like. Will it be thematic with your event or will it represent a spiritual truth? Keep in mind whatever you create may promote the event more than the details you put on it! This is a great way to empower volunteers; find the graphic designer or artist in your group and let them take the reins.
5. Get out there and do it. Your items have been printed and passed out, your digital presence is live, and you have literally personally invited half of your community. Now enjoy the time, stay flexible, and keep verbally inviting students to join you.
Have other steps in your promotional process? Post them below!