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COMMENTARY · 21st November 2015
Walter McFarlane
Recently, there have been a number of comments regarding the lack of advertising of events. Contrary to this statement, there are a lot of places where people advertise. One of the goals of advertising is to be noticed. The question is, why are events not being noticed?

I first asked this question a few years ago, when the band took the stage at a free concert and myself, the band and the organizers were the only people in the room. The concert had been listed in the Sentinel, the Daily, on posters around town, announced at Council weeks in advance and on a banner across the entrance of town.

I began to look at the various ways of advertising and how I notice it. There are posters and billboards, the various forms of media, social media and personal websites.

Many bulletin boards in town are easy to ignore because they are out of the way. Most posters, put up around town are uniform, black and white and indistinguishable from one another from a distance. If a bulletin board is out of the way, a person could glance, see nothing is new, and walk on missing a few posters which were just put up.

I often wonder who is the target audience for billboards or banners put up around town. The Driver should really be paying attention to the road. Billboards at traffic lights and stop signs should be read in less than three seconds and the print should be large enough to read.

For events advertised on a banner at the entrance of town, you should use a different colour for your banner other than the one before your event, so the two different banners can be distinguished between. Also, when the event is over, make sure the banner is taken down.

When there is a big event coming up, the Telethon, Canada Day and other things like that, I do my best to write an article about it. I find that people are more inclined to read about what is going on at Council meetings, other community news or the results of the event being advertised than the article about the upcoming event.

If you look at the left on our homepage, you might notice a tumbleweed rolling through our community calendar section, because only a few people in the community take advantage of this free service.

I’ve found that social media, such as Facebook, is both the best and the worst way of advertising your event. If you know what you are doing, you can reach your target audience. However, you are gambling on whether the event will show up in someone’s news feed, be shared around by friends, ignored or be buried under all of the semi inspirational garbage, cat pictures, political memes and ‘local’ news stories about what is happening around the world.

People have to be able to see an event to know about it. With social media, you are competing for visibility against the website’s algorithms, which determine which posts get who. In addition, you are competing with every other person who is trying to be seen.

Other events will only be listed on personal websites and there is a lot of digging to do to find them. Coming events are rarely listed on the front page of a website. If you want to find out what’s coming up, you have to go to:

The District of Kitimat Website
The District of Kitimat Recreation Site
The Chamber of Commerce Website
The Mount Elizabeth Theatre Website
The Kitimat Public Library Website
The Kitimat Museum and Archives Website
The Ice Demons Website

And any number of other websites including ones for proposed industries, businesses, personal websites, each with their own calendars.

If the upcoming events are not listed on the front page of your website, consider a redesign to make your site easier to access and keep people from getting lost in the clutter.

After taking a good long serious look at the way things are advertised, I came to the conclusion that the best way to advertise an event is to hit as many sources as you are comfortable with and hope people take notice.

But then something changed. An event in Kitimat received so much FREE publicity it changed my mind. The best way to advertise your event is to send a letter to Council telling them they are not invited… remember folks. Even negative publicity is still publicity.
My two bits
Comment by Jon Borgens on 23rd November 2015
I agree that things tend to get missed, despite the varied methods of advertising. I've seen it suggested before, (By I believe one of the candidates in our last municipal election) that the district should look at a fluid 'announcement bill board' perhaps outside of the arenas that advertises upcoming activities, events, projects etc.....many other communities have this system, perhaps its an option?