Tuesday, June 6

Places to Advertise Community Events in Jacksonville

My son is in another school play, and this time I decided to try to drum up a little attention. However, I don't know exactly how to do it, so I want to document what I have tried to get a community event publicized, especially when a few hurdles existed from the outset.

First off, Duval County Public Schools have terrible websites, so while I don't think the school he's at has publicized the event, it's really hard to tell. On top of that, the tickets didn't go on sale on the GoFan site until less than a week before the event, which means all the meathead parents with kids in sports didn't see it as an upcoming event, nor could I use the link in material publicizing the play. Basically, the plan seems to be that no one will show up, and because no one will show up, there's no reason to publicize it. I don't like that plan, so this is what I tried:

About a month before the play (in this case it's Noises Off at Fletcher High School), I tried to add it to a couple of local events websites. Because I didn't have a link to tickets or an official website, I provided my own information. Folio Weekly ended up adding the event (Hooray!), while visitjacksonville did not (Boo! Hiss!) The only problem is that Folio Weekly doesn't rank high when it comes to theater events, and Jacksonville (no surprise) is all about the for-profit theater companies and their list of re-hashed productions. Anyhow, much love to Folio Weekly.

My next step is to get a document printed and posted wherever someone will let me in the East Arlington/Beaches area. I'll start with my church because my wife works there and the people know James. I went to the Pablo Creek Regional Library with one ad, but the library staff said I couldn't post it anywhere, which means a local public school can't post event info at a local public library about a literary event. My son was technically in charge of distribution of the rest of the printouts. I don't think he tried any local businesses, instead opting to hand them to fellow actors to each post one somewhere.

In the end, not much was advertised. We learned that Folio Weekly allows legitimate events, but it's not the calendar that tends to show up in Google searches. We learned that the library should change its policy and the high school should promote academic activities as much as sporting events. We learned that kids (even friends) don't attend plays, nor do most teachers or community members who happen to hear about them. That said, better execution of advertising will occur in the future because of what we've learned. If the play's appropriate, we'll try a local mom blog in the future, too. But I really believe a door-to-door canvassing with the printed playbill around the school might be the best way to let people know, since most people aren't actively searching for the information. We can ask the neighbors to post the info at work or pass the word to someone who might be interested.

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