Ideas for spreading the word about community events

Updated August 2017.

Skokie and our neighboring suburbs host loads of worthwhile events. When I'm in charge of helping spread the word about an event, depending on the kind of event it is, I might use the given organization's website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and this blog to help get the word out. I also might use a targeted press release for some events.

Here's some additional online news outlets and listings that I occasionally share information with. If there are others outlets I should add to my list, I'd love to hear about them.  This list is not comprehensive and given the media landscape, change happens fast. Despite me updating often, I might have missed something.

Before the event...

Consider sharing media alerts*, stories, photos and listings relating to upcoming events with these outlets:

Skokie is still being covered by Mike Isaacs for the Skokie Review. Mike's at at @SKReview_Mike and misaacs@pioneerlocal.com. He may or may not be able to run anything in the paper before or after your event, but keeping him informed about what you are doing is a good media relations practice.
Patch's submission choices

Skokie Patch has gotten more user-friendly. You'll have to start an account with them to post.

Evanston Now is a news and information site for the Evanston community which aims to be a friendly place for everyone in town to post news items, post to community calendar and share photos and opinions. It is managed by editor and publisher Bill Smith. Learn how to submit here.

Here on Live From Skokie's blog, I occasionally accept guest submissions, but am more likely to tweet or retweet about your event and refer to your website. I'm best contacted via direct messages at @LiveFromSkokie on Twitter.

I'm also at @EvanstonLive, which has a blog too. Oddly it is not related to the awesome Meleika Gardners's Evanston Live TV...yet.

Event information can also be sent to WBEZ via psa@wbez.org. Check out their guidelines before submitting.

Consider sending event information to Time Out Chicago.

These outlets publish event listings. Some you'll have to start accounts with...

Chicago Woman

Make It Better

Yelp - Start here.

Eventful - Start here. This is where WXRT and B96 pull their event calendar information from.

WGN-TV - Start here.

WDRV-FM - Start here.

If your event is in Morton Grove, Niles, Park Ridge, consider submitting info to The Bugle.

WCGO-AM - The station started broadcasting their own shows more than a year ago. Shows include Everyday with French and Friends (M-F, 5-7 p.m.), but their roster is growing.  I suggest sending event info directly to Daniel French. If it is sports-related, try Kevin Burgess.

The Mike Nowak Show with Natural Awakenings' Peggy Maleki broadcasts live Saturday mornings on WCGO 1590 AM. It covers everything green, local gardening and the environment. Contact them via mike@mikenowak.net and peggy@nachicagonorth.com.

For health, wellness and green living, submit to Peggy's Natural Awakenings.

WMBI-FM's community calendar highlights "family-friendly Christian events". Submit information at least one month before your event.

Metromix Chicago features restaurants, bars, clubs, events, movies, theatre. Start here to submit information for potential inclusion.

For Chicago, Glenview, Glencoe, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Highwood, Highland Park or Deerfield area events, check out the Daily North Shore. Start here to submit event info.  For an idea of who's who there, see their Contact Us page.

For events relating to the visual arts, check out The Visualist, Chicago's visual arts calendar.

For "sophisticated" events, check out The Social Heir. To submit info, start here.

I've not used it yet, but check out Urban Matter Chicago. To submit, start here.

Non-profit organization's community events are posted on Comcast's Public Access Calendar.

For business events with broad appeal, consider Crain's Chicago Business. Submit information at least three weeks in advance to smallbizcalendar@gmail.com.

For events of interest to the Jewish community in the Chicago area, submit to JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago's calendar.

If you want media coverage of the event...

Is it photogenic?
Chicago Tribune's photo assignment desk - ct-photoassign@tribune.com.
Sun-Times photo desk - stphoto@suntimes.com.

Buy Public Narrative's Getting on the Air, Online and Into Print media guide to be really thorough.

Tossing something over the transom, so to speak, can be either useful or a waste of time. Tips: Should you choose to use these email addresses, do not include them all in the same email. Send a media alert to the assignment desk 1-2 days before your event.

CBS-2 Chicago: wbbmtvdesk@cbs.com
NBC-5 Chicago: assignmentdesk@nbcuni.com
ABC-7 Chicago: wls.desk@abc.com
WGN-9 Chicago: wgntvinfo@tribunemedia.com
WFLD-32 Fox Chicago: news@foxchicago.com
WBBM NewsRadio 105.9 FM: wbbmnewsradiotips@cbsradio.com
WBEZ 91.5 FM: news@chicagopublicradio.org

Mass communication is helpful, but...

Sharing information via media outlets will help an organization reach external audiences, people you don't know yet and who may or may not know you. These suggestions can be a fine supplement, but not a substitute, for getting in touch directly with your internal audience, people who know you and have opted-in, signed up for your news.

For certain kinds of events, ask your board or committee to help spread the word via their own communication and social media networks.

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*Media alerts are a call to action, a one-sheet summary of what makes it worthwhile for an editor/producer to sent a reporter/crew from their print, broadcast or online to your event or cover your story. It will need to answer the questions "Why is this news-worthy?" and "What at this event will be visual?". Even radio outlets need visuals to post online.

Lots of advice about how to craft media alerts that will be acted upon are online.
Ultimately you'll need to decide what works for you and your contacts, but these two sources offer some useful advice.
- Columbia College's Alton Miller offers some solid advice.
- Media Tracks' example is too text heavy and full of adjectives, but makes some good point. Using a photos is a good idea, but their choice could have been better. I'm not sure a full-length picture of a person is needed.

Another way to think of media alerts is as a sell sheet without the hard sell. Facts. Facts. Facts.

When emailing them, include a short and succinct subject line, put all the content--text and photo--in the message field. You can include an attachment with the same info, but the odds of it being looked at are slim.

Unless it is being used as letterhead, avoid using logos.

Avoid adjectives. They tend to be a matter of opinions and journalists are looking for facts. For example, if you say "The mayor's economic development team will make a major announcement..." , you'll need to state what the announcement is concerning. New off-ramp? Improved public transit? Also, that announcement better indeed be major, lest you loose credibility with your outlet contacts.