Getting Publicity for Your Mac User Group
In order for people to join your Macintosh User Group, they need to know you exist.
Here are a few ideas which can help you get the publicity you need. Some are easy, and can be done at no cost. Others involve a little more commitment in time, money, and person-hours. Any of them are better than doing nothing.Pre-Promotion: Give Yourself An Identity
If you’re going to promote, it is a good idea to have something to promote. Take a tip from the commercial world, and line up a few basic resources. They can be revised or updated as time goes buy, but getting them in place early can allow you to leverage them as you go along.
- A Logo – Everyone has one and so should you. When designing it, make sure that you consider all the uses it may be put to, including newsletter printing, your web site, business cards, t-shirts, sweat shirts, polo shirts, flyers, banners, etc. If it is too complex, it can get lost when you make it small, on a business card for example. If it has too many colors, it can cost you a fortune to have it properly reproduced on a business card or an embroidered shirt. Also, make sure that you do not use the Apple logo or any other Apple trademarked image or design. If you are proud of your organization, you’ll want to make it your own, with your own, unique logo.
- A Tag Line – You might be the largest Macintosh User Group in Alabama. Or the oldest Macintosh User Group in Hawaii. Or the only Macintosh User Group in Antarctica. Whatever it is, a tag line can help establish your identity by being descriptive, outspoken, or fun.
Pre-Promotion: Your Web Site
Once you start promoting, you need to have somewhere to send people for more information. Your web site is the perfect place! You should already have one, and it doesn’t cost you a cent more to have it serve as the central place for answers to all questions about your group. Visit our MUG Web Site Tips section to get some ideas!
T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Polo Shirts
This is a no-brainer. People will walk around with your logo on their chest or back. Why wouldn’t you have these made and get them into the hands of your members?
A couple tips: strongly consider spending just a little extra money and get a good silkscreen or embroidering job. It looks better, is truer to the original, and lasts longer. And buy a good brand of t-shirt and sweatshirt that won’t fall apart after the first washing.
While t-shirts are fairly inexpensive and easier to produce, polo shirts with your logo provide a more polished, dressier appearance, especially for officers or at public functions. And they really don’t cost that much more. If you work with a smaller or local organization, you will be buying the shirts slightly above wholesale, rather than what you would pay in the department stores. Outer Banks, UltraClub and Lee are especially good values for the money. And they offer a variety of styles and colors to fit your needs.
Have your group officers or members participate, as a group, in community projects where visibility is high. Having them wear their t-shirts, sweatshirts or polo shirts will gain you publicity and community recognition.
Perfect opportunities for this kind of activity include local public TV fund raisers and The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life events. Your group not only gets the publicity and recognition, but also contributes to a worthy cause in your community.
Unless you’re having a significant event or guest, don’t send press releases about every meeting to the newspapers, radio or TV stations in your area. They will start to dismiss them on a pro forma basis, even when you do have something they should look at.
But there are lots of other channels where press releases of an informal nature can be sent or posted.
- Local newsgroups. Many cities and geographic areas now have at least one newsgroup dedicated to their area. This is a perfect place to reach computer-savvy individuals.
- Local shopper-type newspapers. These publications are always looking for local content, and your regular meetings fit right in.
- Cable TV Public Calendars. Many cable systems provide a community calendar or bulletin board which accept not-for-profit announcements for free or a very nominal fee. See what’s available in your area!
- Community Calendars. This will seem to contradict the warning above, but if a local paper, TV or radio station has a community calendar section, submit your regular meetings to it, not as press releases, but as submissions specifically for that section. They will get treated appropriately, and you won’t damage your credibility for future “real” press releases.
One Page Flyers/Brochures
Create a one-page flyer or brochure about your group, being sure to include who, what, where, when and why, and then deliver them to some of the common Mac strongholds, such as:
- Schools (seek out those in charge of the computer labs, especially if they are Mac labs)
- Printing operations – both commercial and consumer-oriented shops have Mac people somewhere in their organization.
- Video production shops – possibly a bit harder to locate, but when you do, you tend to find a den of Mac enthusiasts.
- TV stations – the same reason.
- Newspapers – There is an extremely strong Mac presence in that industry.
- Any and all graphic designers, from the one-man shop working out of a home office to the larger operations.
- Any office supply super store (OfficeMax, Staples, etc.). We know, don’t sell Macs, but they sell stuff Mac people need – paper, toner refills, etc.
There’s always a public notice board up there. If you can make an eye-catching poster for your next meeting, this is a good place to post it..Consider donating Mac magazine subscriptions and books to your local Library. Each one sits on the shelf,screaming that there’s a Mac presence somewhere in the community. And you can put book plates in the books, listing your group’s name, phone number and web site.
Libraries publicize those who donate to them in their own fashion. Most have a “Friends of the Library” program which attracts local businesses and community leaders. You automatically get noticed by some of the most influential members of your community.
Make Youself Visible
Next time your local paper runs an Apple story, or even a controversial PC story, contact the technology editor or whoever authored the story, introduce yourself, and offer to provide either supporting or opposing commentary. They often jump on it because you’re local, and you’ve held yourself out as an “expert.” (Even if you don’t think of yourself as an expert, you are probably better informed on Macintosh matters than a local reporter.) (From a user group seminar at Apple, 1/2000)
Group Anniversaries And Special Events
If you have a big anniversary coming up for your group (5 years, 10 years, etc.), call the local papers, TV and radio stations, and see if they will do a community event spot or story. With Apple generating lots of publicity these days, and Macs everywhere in the media, there’s a good chance they’ll have some interest. Same goes with any kind of special meeting or presentation.
To get widespread coverage, make up a one-sided 8.5 x 11 “poster” advertising your group, make a PDF of it, and email it to all your members. Ask them to print copies and post them anywhere in their specific area where people might see them. Low cost to you, and the members feel like part of the effort, especially if someone shows up and says, “Oh yeah, I saw your poster at the xxx church.” The member who posted it feels like a hero for bringing in new people!
Visibility in the MUG Community
You know that your group does all sorts of interesting and valuable things at each meeting. Let others in on the secret! There are three opportunities for every user group out there to promote their meetings and events on more than a local level:
- The MUG Event Calendar: Hosted here on The MUG Center, The MUG Event Calendar listings are the result of both submissions by user group ambassadors as well as random surfing of active user group web sites on The MUG Center’s Surfboard. Accepted events are also listed in The MUG Center’s weekly email bulletin. If you have an upcoming meeting or event and you would like to have it listed, send the information, along with your group’s URL, to email@example.com.
- Apple User Groups Activities Calendar: Perhaps the most overlooked benefit of the Apple User Group Program, your group can get your event listed simply by submitting them from the link on the calendar page.
- JimDalrymple.com: The latest opportunity for MUGs to promote their events comes from the editor of MacCentral and Macworld.com. Jim is encouraging MUGs to post their events on his personal web page, as one more way to get the word out. Registration to post is free.
If your group isn’t taking advantage of any or all of these opportunities for publicity, you’re missing out.