No Money, No Problem: Building Event Buzz Without a Budget

Novia McDonald Whyte, Senior Associate Editor Lifestyle + Social Content at the Jamaica Observer, discussing  The Science of Confidence: What is Presence?  Photo:  Searlina   Bodden

Novia McDonald Whyte, Senior Associate Editor Lifestyle + Social Content at the Jamaica Observer, discussing The Science of Confidence: What is Presence? Photo: Searlina Bodden

100 Women in Finance's NextGen Inspire careers summit is not your standard conference. Of course, there's tons of networking and learning, but there's also welcome mocktails, a candy bar station, espresso + prosecco filled breaks, and lots of swag. Georgie Loxton, a wealth advisor at International Financial Planning and founder of Women. Wisdom. Wealth., kicked off this year's festivities with an inspirational journey of women's struggles to explore and define their 'Power + Presence', the event theme for 2017. Recognising the changing times, training and recruiting professionals CML + Nova led an interactive and informative session for all 120+ attendees which discussed the ups and downs of feeling powerful, how to cultivate executive presence and why it matters for career progression. Keynote speaker, Maggie Craddock, stole the show by linking our individual power styles to our upbringing and explaining how women can manipulate the four 'power genes' to discover their authentic superpower. Everyone left inspired, ready to grab their personas by the horns and help pay it forward to the next generation, #girlboss style.

So how do you generate island-wide buzz around such an educational and inspiring event without a budget, or even a dedicated platform, to disseminate your sneak peeks, throwbacks and must-read news? You get a little scrappy, join forces with some fabulous marketers and tastemakers, and engage the right tactics on the right outlets.

If you're a little strapped for cash when trying to promote your next shindig, here are few hacks to help get your brand some extra mileage before, during and after the event.

1. Create a PR Campaign

Just because you don't have access to your company's credit card, doesn't mean you can skip over prep + planning. In fact, it's more of a reason to get clear on your objectives, identify your target audience, develop your key messages and layout your proposed tactics. With a little planning and tact, you may not even have to develop all your promotional content yourself! And trust us, having a roadmap for your PR efforts will be a godsend when you're juggling last-minute registrations, sponsor requests, catering and décor needs.

2. Secure Media Partners

Make a list of local and industry-related publications and generate awareness of the conference and key happenings in newsworthy press releases. Journalists are always on the look out for valuable content to provide their audiences, so think outside the box and pitch stories that cover topics related to your event's mission or theme. Also, consider handing out carefully selected media passes to your event; the 100WF NextGen Media Relations team reached out to GirlForce100 partner, CIGTV, for exclusive video coverage of the pre-conference GirlForce100 workshop, which aired at the seminar, as well as event media sponsors, Pinnacle Media, for the behind-the-scenes scoop and hear-it-first panelist interviews, and Hurley's Media for on-air interviews and ad spots across their portfolio of popular radio stations.


3. Promote via Social Media

Leverage external platforms besides your own to expand the reach of your social media efforts. The 100WF organisation has active global channels, but no regional or event outlets for jurisdiction-specific content to live, which made disseminating event teasers and tidbits a little tricky. Embracing the #NextGenUnite mantra, we teamed up with sponsors, volunteers, and past supporters to help promote the event. As unofficial social ambassadors, these NextGen 'Go-Givers' helped to establish the Inspire 2017 brand, add credibility to promotional messages and build event buzz.

4. Leverage Your Digital Network

Contact local bloggers and pitch compelling content that both your audiences would be interested in. Strategic influencers can help get the word out to their personal networks and draw attendees you may not have reached otherwise. Sophie Prior, of local lifestyle blog Lustic Life's How 100WF NextGen Inspired Me to Become a #GirlBoss and Jess Deegenaars' How to Harness the Power of Personal Branding on the Cayman Islands Marketing Professionals Association blog spoke directly to the event's demographic, while Georgie Loxton's Invest in Yourself Early and Often on her platform, Women.Wisdom.Wealth., provided sound reasons to attend. Not only did these build a steady stream of sharable and engaging content in the weeks leading up to the event, but each blogger created their post using their own materials and unique points of view, and were able to authentically promote the conference via these think pieces on their own social platforms.

5. Make Your Own Hashtag

This step is so simple and obvious that it's often overlooked. A branded hashtag, particularly when you don't have a dedicated social outlet for your event, creates a means for people to follow event highlights and discussions. The hashtag #NextGenUnite was promoted across print, digital and broadcast advertising and PR to generate awareness, and given to delegates at the start of the afternoon so that attendees could share memorable moments - made even easier by a highly 'grammable photobooth featuring the Wonder Woman-inspired hashtag.