Publicity on campus

There are lots of ways to get the word out about your event or group. Here are some ideas. The most important thing is to know your campus and concentrate the most effort on the things that students pay attention to most. 

  • Word of mouth is the best publicity. Tell your friends, and get them to tell theirs. Peer pressure works.
  • Look for established groups of people who may be pre-disposed to interest in your activities (other clubs, certain majors, people in the same dorm, vegetarians, whatever) and target publicity to them
  • Use Facebook (groups, events, invitations, posting photos/video of past events, etc.)
  • Have some musicians play on the green the afternoon before a dance when the weather is good. Pass out flyers for the dance and tell people, "Live music tonight at the contra dance!" Julia Nickles found that "after years of trial and error, this was the wording that got the most positive response" at Brown.
  • Be persistent when telling people about the event and talk to as many people as possible. Casting a wide net will yield the most results.
  • Target students at activities fairs, admitted student weekend, or orientation. Have dance demos with live music.
  • Discuss with others in your group the merits of advertising off campus - there may be a local dance/music community interested to attend your events. Some college groups really like the mix of ages that community participation can provide. Others decide not to do this in order to minimize the possibility that new college-age dancers might end up in a situation that makes them uncomfortable. It's worth thinking about what will work best for your group.
  • Use whatever publications (print or electronic) your college has available - student newspaper, student activities listing, web calendars, email lists, etc.Use whatever publications (print or electronic) your college has available - student newspaper, student activities listing, web calendars, email lists, etc.
  • Advertise whimsically rather than informatively; avoid describing the activity, instead refer to the excitement of live music and live dancing. Don't compare to square dancing. Example: I see London, I see France, I'll see you at the Contra Dance! (from Julia Nickles at Brown)
  • An alternate opinion:

    "The word "folk" is very much in vogue at Wesleyan (our group is the Folk Revival Initiative) but might not be elsewhere. Your instinct might be to avoid "square dancing" but it actually does interest some people, and even if they show up in cowboy hats, they'll probably have a great time. Also, "square dance" tends to say "energy! hoedown!" to people, which is definitely a quality we WANT at our dances. I wouldn't necessarily put it on a poster, but I also wouldn't worry too too much about combatting the stereotypes...For a contra dance, it's important to emphasize that it's social, not a performance, and that no dance experience is necessary."- Emily Troll, Wesleyan

  • Get PE Credit! This is a fantastic way to entice people to come dancing regularly.
  • Understand your campus culture. Think about what terminology will go over well in your community, and what won't.
  • Chalk the sidewalks
  • Put up posters. Here are some poster samples from other college groups:
    • Bryn Mawr Folk Club: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
    • Brown Contra Dance: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
    • Wesleyan Contra Dance: 1 | 2 | 3

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