Celebrating 75 Years of Aviation History; Sharing Event Planning Tips & Tricks

Written by Talana Morris on Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

We are honored to have been a part of a milestone celebration and event for our client, Terrell Municipal Airport. Recently the airport held the 9th Annual Flights of Our Fathers Air Show & Fly-In, and what a grand event it was! This is our fourth year working with Terrell Municipal Airport and the third Fly-In event we’ve helped promote with marketing, advertising and public relations campaigns.

img_6460The event benefits the No. 1 British Flying Training School Museum, located at Terrell Municipal Airport. Seventy-five years ago British Cadets arrived in Terrell to train at the first, and largest, World War II flying school in the United States. After the U.S. entered the war, American Aviation Cadets were also trained there. The No. 1 British Flying Training School Museum commemorates the 2,100 Royal Air Force (RAF) cadets, plus around 138 American cadets, who trained in Terrell during WWII between 1941 and 1945.

This year, the cloud cover had us worried early on, due to the fact that many pilots who had planned to fly in for the event were unable to leave their home airports. The clouds finally lifted in time to allow many pilots to make the trip. And fortunately, the cloud coverage kept the temperatures manageable so the local community was out in full force. The turnout was tremendous, as was the attendee feedback! If you’re promoting an event, you may consider the methods and tips outlined below valuable.

Digital Promotions

In our experience, digital marketing is the easiest and most cost effective way to reach people, both in terms of volume as well as new audiences. In fact, of the participants who took our post-event survey, more than 50% indicated they learned of the event from Facebook or Twitter. Another 17% indicated they learned via an email campaign and about 7% from web banner ads. An added benefit of digital advertising is that you can measure results. Here are some of the things we did to promote the fly-in:

  • Facebook ad
    Setup a month-long ad campaign with a $200 budget with the goal of obtaining event responses on our Facebook event page. The investment was well worth it. In this case, our ad creative was a “video” (or so called by Facebook…it’s actually a slideshow). It included background music, which we selected from the available options Facebook provides. This format elicited a great deal of response.
  • Web banner ads
    Purchased web banner placements on a few websites, including a popular local online news site and a regional publication site.
  • Email marketing
    Sent a series of email blasts leading up to the event. With this client, we have organically grown an email list over the last few years. About 17% of those who took our survey learned of the event from the email invitation.
  • Calendar listingsimg_6476
    Submitted the event details and promotion graphic to more than 200 websites that feature event listings. The websites ranged from general news, to Texas travel, to aviation-focused sites.
  • Social posts and messages
    Consistently posted about the event on Facebook and Twitter, covering featured performers, attractions, event details, special speakers, etc. One tactic we tried, which worked well, was direct messaging various on-air radio personalities to ask them to include our event in their weekly “things to do” lists. Several of them shared the promotion via social media or on the radio.
  • Facebook Live
    Never stopped promoting, up until the day of and during the event. Early in the day we aired several Facebook Live videos to showcase the attractions. We streamed from the Facebook event page, which meant that everyone who indicated interest in the event was notified that we were Live. The format allowed us to remind them of the event, times, location and cost.


Print Promotions

Of course it would be foolish to put all of our promotional eggs in one basket, so we concurrently used print promotions to reach people who aren’t on social media or who do not use the web as a source for activity planning. While it is nearly impossible to measure results from print advertising, it’s still a necessary evil, oops…I mean expensive. Typically, print materials cost much more than digital advertising.

Below are some of the traditional tactics we used:

  • Posters, flyers & postcards
    Printed thousands of paper-based materials to distribute around town at local businesses. We also emailed electronic versions of the flyer to various regional airports and places with digital displays or bulletin boards.
  • Billboards & banners
    Secured space on two local billboards in high-traffic areas as well as hung large vinyl banners throughout town. More than 20% of those who took our post-event survey indicated they learned about the event from billboards. Billboards are a costly investment, but can be very effective.
  • Print ads
    Ran display print ads in the local paper, as well as a regional print publication.
  • Bill stuffers
    Almost every family receives a water bill, and many of us still get them mailed to our house. As such, we figured we’d reach the local municipal water customers a couple of times prior to the event by including a nicely designed, attention-getting stuffer in their water bill.


Publicity Efforts

In addition to the above, we executed a public relations campaign that included direct pitching and press release distribution to various news outlets. Some highlighted coverage included:

These are just some of the methods we used to promote our client’s event. Each event is different and there are endless ways to get the word out. If you would like assistance with promoting your next event, give us a shout.

About Talana Morris

Talana MorrisTalana brings over 20 years of experience in managing complex projects, teams and budgets. In addition to a project management role, Talana also leads digital and event marketing for clients. Her skills span from project management to technical to provide clients with a resource knowledgeable in the process of delivery and the functional requirements.