Congratulations on your successful application to the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund.
This fund is delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.
As a funding recipient, there are things you need to do to acknowledge your funding. These are outlined in the ‘What you will need to do’ section of the Marketing Requirements.
We are keen to support your organisation to make the most of taking part in the Year of Stories and have put together this toolkit to help you promote your events. It includes hints and tips, useful templates and links to more detailed resources. A PDF version of this toolkit can also be downloaded from the 'Supporting Documents' section below.
We also have a dedicated YS2022 Marketing and Communications Officer, Carolyn Mills, who is happy to offer marketing and PR advice and support. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would love your feedback on how to improve this toolkit so please do get in touch with Carolyn with any ideas.
When creating content to promote your event, your audience should be your main focus. These are some things to think about: Who is your [potential] audience? How are you going to engage them? What do you want them to know? And what action do you want them to take?
Who is your audience?
Think about who you want to attend your event – what age are they, where do they live, what are their interests, how is it best to reach them / what communication channels do they use? This will help you determine which aspects of your event to highlight, what tone of voice to use, and which marketing methods and channels are most appropriate.
You may already have good insight into your potential audience(s) or you might find it useful to do some research. This could include desk research (what demographics research has been done in your area?), harnessing ticketing data, gaining digital insights from Google Analytics and social media accounts, and seeking on-the-ground staff and volunteer knowledge. It’s likely there will be multiple audience segments interested in your event, e.g. young families, people interested in local history etc, and you may choose to communicate with them differently. For more useful information, read our Marketing planning – where to start resource.
How are you going to communicate with them?
There are a number of different marketing channels you could use to promote your event – here’s a quick overview of the key options. For further detail, please read our Where and how to market resource.
- Website – this is the online window to your organisation and the place you can drive all your other marketing towards. It’s critical that it’s kept up to date and easy to navigate.
- Social media – you can communicate with your audience immediately and gain useful insights into their interests and behaviour. But consistent scheduling and regular monitoring are required to grow and sustain your following. Check the section on social media further down this page for tips on best practice.
- Posters and leaflets – for many smaller communities, print is still the most effective method of reaching local audiences. It serves the function of raising awareness about your event, communicating key messages, and signposting how to buy tickets and access further information. Your design should be eye-catching and bold, text should be kept simple and easily legible. Consider the optimum size for your print. Will local shops be able to accommodate posters larger than A3? Will your leaflet fit in leaflet racks?
- Email marketing – this is an efficient way to share information with people already interested in your organisation. Add a sign-up form to your website and promote through social media, use an email management tool such as Mailchimp to track effectiveness, and ensure your mailing list complies with GDPR guidelines.
- Press (print, radio, TV) – build relationships with local journalists, keep a record of publication deadlines, and send press releases about any ‘newsworthy’ activity or announcements. Advice on how to engage the press and write releases can be found further down this page.
What should you include in your event copy?
- It’s helpful to have a clear beginning, middle and end to your event copy. You should open with an elevator pitch – this is an enticing sentence or two that describes in a nutshell what your event is about. Then you can flesh-out the details of your event in a couple of paragraphs, remembering to put the most important information first. And finish your copy with a clear call to action and link i.e. ‘book a ticket’ or ‘find out more on our website’.
- Your copy should be inspirational and engaging – include not only a description of what the event is about, but how it will make your audience feel and the benefits of attending.
- Include visual assets (photographs, illustrations, video clips) alongside your copy wherever possible to bring your event alive.
- Use short sentences, simple language and avoid jargon to ensure your copy is accessible and easy to read.
- Consider your tone of voice, will your potential audience respond better to more formal or informal language?
How can you maximise the usefulness of your online content?
Ensure that any online content you create is shareable. This will make it easy for you and any potential partners to promote the content through a variety of channels (website, social media, e-newsletters), thereby increasing its reach.
Here is an Example Event Listing from the Year of Coasts and Waters.
If you need help to write the event copy for your website, social media, posters, leaflets or other marketing collateral, please contact Carolyn Mills at email@example.com.
It’s vital to choose a strong, high-quality image to illustrate your event as it will help to grab people’s attention and give them a quick idea of what your event is about.
If you don’t already have a relevant event photo, here are some suggestions of where to source an existing photo. Always remember to credit the photographer and, where possible, provide a caption.
Please note, you must send us a completed Media Release Form even if you are using a stock image. Please check the usage rights within the stock agency’s T&Cs to ensure that the rights cover sharing with third parties (in this case VisitScotland and partners).
- VisitScotland has a fantastic Digital Media Library where you can access free photos of Scotland’s cities, countryside, wildlife, people and more.
- Search free online image banks for a relevant themed photo. Useful free image banks include pexels.com and unsplash.com.
- You could use a photo of your event performer if it’s high quality (e.g. a storyteller, speaker or musician).
- If you have the budget, you could commission an illustrator to create a unique image.
If you need help to source a relevant image, please contact Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to take great photos
If you’re able to capture high-quality photographs in advance of your event, these can be really useful for event promotion via social media and for securing local press coverage. Photography of the event itself provides documentation and imagery which could be used to promote future activity.
Please note that all people featured in your photos, regardless of age, must complete a Photography Consent Form. If you are photographing children, please ask their parent or guardian to complete the Photography Consent Form on their behalf.
We’d recommend hiring a freelance photographer, but if your budget does not stretch to this please use these guidelines yourself:
- Who: photograph audience members, performers, staff or volunteers enjoying the event – try to pick people who will make an interesting picture e.g. cute school children or actors in historical dress.
- What: as well as taking photos throughout the course of your event, it’s a good idea to stage an opportunity before or after the event to give you control over the shot and not distract from the event itself. ‘Behind the scenes’ pictures can be a great draw so try to capture some shots of staff setting up in the run-up to the event (great for social media posts too!).
- Where: pick a bright, naturally lit location whenever possible.
- When: in the morning before the event starts is a prime time to stage some photography and get some strong shots in the bag. You should keep taking pictures throughout the event as these will be useful for social media promotion and documentation.
- Resolution – your photography should be at least 2480 x 3508 pixels. To take this standard of photography you should use a digital camera or an up-to-date smartphone.
- Take a mixture of posed and candid shots.
- Try to take photos in a landscape format where possible, although it’s useful to have a variety of landscape and portrait images.
- Set up shots you think would make a great picture in your local newspaper e.g. colour, people, fun.
VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland will be working together to promote the Year of Stories 2022 and events funded by the Community Stories Fund, through PR and other marketing activity. However, if you contact your local media with an engaging, positive story about your event, then you have a good chance of gaining excellent local coverage.
We can source local media contacts for you, so please just ask if you need help with this.
Please send all press releases for approval to Carolyn Mills at email@example.com. Please allow 7 days for approval.
What to include in your press release
The following three things must be included in all press releases about your funded activity:
- Please mention that your activity is taking place as part of the Year of Stories 2022 within the first three paragraphs.
- The following line must be included to acknowledge your award:
This event has been supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.
In addition, you're welcome to include this VisitScotland quote in your press release. This is optional, not essential:
Marie Christie, Head of Development at VisitScotland said: "We are delighted to be supporting <INSERT EVENT NAME> through the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. Events play an important role in our communities as they sustain livelihoods and help to celebrate and promote our unique places, spaces and stories. Themed Years are all about collaboration and Museums Galleries Scotland, National Lottery Heritage Fund and VisitScotland are pleased to work in partnership to create this fund to showcase community stories. By supporting events taking place within our communities, including <INSERT NAME OF EVENT>, new opportunities with be provided for locals and visitors to come together and find out more about the diverse stories, past and present, that our communities have to share.”
Please use our example Press Release Template and Media Invite Template if you would find them helpful.
Ideas for how to promote your event to the media
- Invite a local journalist to attend your event, offer them free tickets or a sneak preview a day or two before.
- Invite the local newspaper photographer along to capture the event.
- Share a press release with your local news desk(s) encouraging them to promote the event and drive footfall.
- Send an eye-catching picture with your story – if the publication doesn’t have room for a full release, they’ll often publish a photo caption instead.
- Offer an interview with a performer (e.g. storyteller or musician) or event organiser, someone who is knowledgeable about the subject of the event and confident in speaking to the press.
Identifying media opportunities
We will be on the lookout for strong media opportunities and may contact you directly to discuss photo or interview opportunities. But we would also appreciate your support in identifying great stories for the media. Please let us know if your organisation has any of the following:
- Strong spokespeople – do you have any industry experts/curators/members of your community group who could chat with the media in depth about the subject of your event? Or any real characters who could meet with media e.g. a storyteller or performer?
- Awards / milestones – has your organisation recently won an industry award or are you celebrating an anniversary?
- One-off events – is your event a real one-off e.g. is this the first event of its kind?
If you have any interesting stories to share, we’d love to hear them! Please get in touch with Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outreach to interest groups
If you have time, it’s worth doing some research into groups – e.g. clubs, societies, University or College groups, online networks, bloggers, niche media – who might have a particular interest in the subject matter of your event. These groups will hopefully be interested in attending your event and could also help you with promotion. If you’re hosting an online event then you have a much wider scope, if it’s an in-person event you’ll obviously want to focus on local audiences.
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Think about the themes/subject matter of your event e.g. oral history, Gaelic language, feminism or Tartan Noir, and research local networks and groups related to these themes.
- If your event is aimed at specific audiences e.g. young people aged 15 to 25, people with autism or the LGBTQI+ community, arrange a chat with local network organisers to talk about how best to reach these audiences and what you could do to support them to attend. For example, could you arrange transport for a large group or create a relaxed environment in the event venue?
- To connect with more general local groups, contact listings sites and Facebook groups that share information about what’s happening in your local area, and put posters and leaflets in your local library and community centre.
- Offer group discounts on tickets to relevant groups and societies.
- Make it easy for groups to share information on your behalf. Ask what marketing materials they would find most useful – leaflets, posters, social media copy and digital assets, an email template or ‘e-shot’ – and, where possible, provide these.
If your organisation uses Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, these can be effective tools to raise public awareness of your event.
Please use the themed year hashtag #YS2022 in all social media promotion of your funded activity.
Here is an example of how to acknowledge your funding on Twitter:
We are pleased to be taking part in #YS2022 with Year of Stories Community Stories Fund support from @EventScotNews @HeritageFundUK @MuseumsGalScot
How to use social media to promote your event
Which platform should I use?
Each social media platform serves a different purpose, and each reaches different audiences. Although it’s tempting to try and post on multiple platforms, it is actually more effective to focus on just one or two and use them in a consistent, strategic way.
Benefits of each platform for promoting events:
- Facebook: creating a Facebook Event enables you to invite your followers to the event, engage with your audience by posting announcements and answering questions, and either sell tickets directly through Facebook or link to ticket sales on your website.
- Twitter: this platform is great for engaging with your audience through quick conversations, promoting hashtags and sharing links, and retweeting relevant content.
- Instagram: this visual platform is useful for sharing content before, during and after your event. You can create lots of fun interactive content, including polls and quizzes, in Instagram Stories.
How are hashtags useful?
If you create your own event hashtag, it means audiences can find all content related to your event in one handy place. Remember to keep your hashtag short and simple, use it across all your social channels, and encourage your partners to share the hashtag on their relevant social posts.
Please also use our Themed Year hashtags #YS2022 and #TalesOfScotland.
What type of content increases engagement?
Ideally you should include an image and link with every post about your event to make the most of promotion and engagement opportunities. Images greatly increase engagement levels compared to text-only posts, while links enable you to drive traffic to your website and sell tickets. Alternatively, Twitter Cards can be used instead of separate images. Cards allow you to present link content in an attractive way and mean the whole tweet is clickable.
If you have the capacity to create short video content, this a fantastic way to get your audience excited about, and engaged with, your event. Here are some tips: using square rather than landscape orientation leads to more views and looks better on mobile screens, videos and photos without branding or sales messaging are more sharable, and always add captions if your video has audio to ensure it is accessible and can be played in ‘silent mode’.
While it’s important to post consistently, fewer high-quality posts will perform better than a high quantity of lower quality posts.
How should I talk to my audience on social media?
Tone of voice on social media is generally more relaxed and informal than on other media platforms. Here are some tips on how to write engaging copy for posts:
- Add value by aiming to make your posts informative, inspirational or humorous.
- Be approachable , friendly and use natural language.
- Keep your posts short and to the point.
- Try using emojis to highlight key information.
How best to interact with my followers?
It’s helpful to approach social media as a two-way conversation between you and your followers or fans. Here are some tips on how to build engagement through interaction:
- Like, comment and reply to posts related to your event.
- Ask your followers open-ended questions to spark curiosity and encourage replies.
- Repost relevant content from followers or event partners (seek permission where necessary).
- Engage with people who have used your event hashtag.
- Offer a competition or giveaway to grab attention and increase interaction.
- Use Twitter polls and Instagram Stories to find out more about your followers’ interests.
What’s working and what isn’t?
Review your posts to identify which ones are getting the most engagement and revise your content plan to include more of this type of content going forwards.
Here are some tips on how to improve your post performance:
- Be consistent – your posts are likely to perform better if a similar number are scheduled at similar times each day.
- Find out what times of day your audience is most active and schedule your posts accordingly.
- Use hashtags intelligently – hashtags are used quite differently on Twitter compared with Instagram. Do some research into best practice for each platform.
- Each social media channel reaches a different audience. Think about who you are trying to talk to on each platform and adapt your content to suit.
For more ideas and advice check out VisitScotland’s resource How best to promote your events on social media.
Marketing and event skills training
All recipients of the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund will be invited to free webinars on marketing and event management skills. These will take place over 2022 and details will be emailed to you directly.
Other useful resources
YS2022 Community Stories Fund logo panel and brand guidelines
Marketing planning – where to start
Where and how to market – this covers each of the main marketing channels including: website, social media, PR, advertising, email marketing, leaflets and flyers.
How to best promote events on social media
VisitScotland recorded Digital Boost webinars – including how to enhance your social media, search engine optimisation etc.
Event management guide
Planning and managing virtual and hybrid events
How to deliver sustainable and accessible events