Agriculture Communication


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Applying Communication Planning to Event Promotion

Ag Communication uses a four-part communication planning strategy as the basis for Communication Camp and other training. We ask participants to apply the strategy to change behavior, but you can use the strategy for any communication effort, even event promotion.


To identify your goals, ask, "What am I trying to change?" You might not be trying to change people's behavior with your event promotion, but you are trying to get them to take action.

Obviously, you want them to attend your event. But think about the other actions you want people to take. Do you want them to share the event with their friends? Do you want to engage them as advisers or volunteers?

Be clear about what action you want people to take because that influences how to go about getting them to take that action.

Target Audience

Define your target audience by asking, "Who do I need to reach to achieve our goal?" The most common mistake people make is creating posters, news releases, email blasts, etc. with only the general public in mind.

When promoting an event, be thoughtful about how to communicate with a specific target audience.

Even within your target audience, there may be subsets that need to be addressed in different ways. You might vary your messages to appeal to males rather than females, or to low-income families rather than middle-income families.

Key Messages

Start developing your key messages by asking, "What do I need to say to get people to act?"

Focus less on what you want people to know and more on what you want them to do. In event promotion, this often means actually asking people to attend. Many event posters and brochures use most of the page space telling people what will happen at the event. They dedicate much less space to inviting people to register.

Also, tell them how to do it. "Register Now" is worthless if you don't tell them how to register. The same is true if you are asking people to share an event with their friends. "Please share this event" is not enough. People need to know how to share it. Do you have a Facebook post I can share? Can I download and print some fliers to hand out?

User Scenarios

User scenarios answer, “When and where do I need to say it to get them to act?” by imagining the situation or environment a member of your target audience might be in when they are most ready to act. User scenarios also can help you identify the steps a person might need to follow to take action.

When I worked in radio, we advertised almost exclusively on billboards. Our goal was to get people to tune in to our station. When we imagined when and where our target audience would be most likely to take that action, it was obvious we needed to reach them in their cars, so billboards made the most sense.

If your target audience is young parents, what steps might they need to go through to attend your event? Do they need to find childcare? If so, is there a way to reschedule to ease that need or could you partner with someone to offer an event for children that coincides with your event? How might you communicate with them differently having thought more about this user scenario?

I hope you'll consider the four parts of communication planning before you start promoting your next event, and let me know if you think it made a difference.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

Filed under: Communication
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