Around a month and a half ago, I was told by my regional director from YAL about an amazing opportunity to host a debate on campus sponsored by the Cato Institute with two credible debaters, Alex Nowrasteh who is a Cato Institute Immigration Analyst, and Mark Krikorian who is the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Due to midterms and such, I didn’t start the promotional process for the event until exactly a week prior to the event. So I thought I would share the 5 steps that I implemented to get 100 people to attend the event.
1. Get your personal network signed up before cold calling
I feel like this is an area that is often neglected when people host events, yet it is by far the most important area to begin your promotion process. Your YAL chapter and college friends are the most likely to attend the event, so ensure you get them signed up first. When they register for the event, ask them if they have any friends that would be interested in attending. If “Yes”, ask your friend to reach out to their interested friend because they already have a personal relationship with that person.
–My personal network resulted in 50 registrants in days 1-2 of promotion.
2. Reach out to Student Organizations
Student organizations is a key area for your promotion process and it can be very successful if you know the club officers personally. The student organizations we reached out to were The Alexander Hamilton Society, Students for Refugees, College Republicans, and Students for Trump. We gave the club presidents the elevator pitch about the event and asked if their club would be interested in attending the event. We also tailored our elevator pitch to each student organization, for example, a Students for Trump message would focus on closed borders while Students for Refugees was focused on open borders. All the student organizations agreed to help us promote the event at their club meeting and they sent out a promotional paragraph in their email announcements.
-Student organizations brought in 25 registrants during days 3-4 of promotion (75 Total)
3. Personal messaging people on Facebook and Groupme
Personally messaging people is very effective to get people registered compared to posting a status where only a very small margin of people will click the link register. So I would get the full list of people that were in a certain Facebook group and message them all personally. Groupme is another great resource to use for personally messaging massive amounts of people. Most student organizations have a Groupme chat and you have access to personally message everyone in the group (Ask permission first). Make your message sound personal and utilize copy/paste while only changing the name in order to save time. If it’s a student organization Include the sentence “A lot of people from ‘insert student group’ are attending, so I thought you would be interested” into your personal message along with a promotional picture with the date, time and link to register for your event.
-Personally messaging a couple hundred people brought in 20 registrants during days 4-5 of promotion (95 Total)
4. Focus on the traditional methods of event promotion during the final days prior to your event (Social Media, Flyers, and Tabling).
You want to post on social media throughout your promotional process but the final 2-3 days are the most crucial to get sign-ups for your event. Post on every social media platform where people might be interested such as Facebook groups, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter. Hanging flyers around campus isn’t a great way to get people to attend because 99% of people won’t notice. Rather, It is best to go into academic buildings and walk up to students directly with a flyer and elevator pitch for your event. The act of walking up to random students can be intimidating, but it can be very effective to get random people to attend; we handed out 120 flyers this way. Lastly, we tabled outside with coffee and handed out 250 flyers to students during the morning/afternoon of the event.
-Traditional methods brought in another 15 registrants during days 6-7 of event promotion (110 Total)
5. Send a reminder to all of your registrants the day of the event.
This is crucial to ensuring that the people that registered actually attend the event. Make sure to collect the phone numbers of the registrants in order to have a direct method to send a reminder. Moreover, sign up for Mailchimp and schedule an email to send out a reminder the morning of the event using a catchy subject line like “Don’t miss the best event of the Semester Tonight.” By sending out direct reminders we were able to get 75% of the people that registered to attend the event (82). The additional 20 people showed up via flyers, social media, and through friends.
Those are the 5 steps we took to get 100 people to attend our Immigration debate with only 1 week of event promotion. I hope this post was helpful and if you have any questions feel free to email me at: