Publicity in the Electronic Era

Last weekend at the MoTAS meeting (Men of Temple Ahavat Shalom), we were discussing publicity, what works and what does. It was an interesting discussion, so I thought I would expand on it a bit here.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell: How does one cost-effectively publicize an event and get people to attend?

In the “old” days (read “less than 10 years ago”), the answer was that you would put articles in the event in your newsletters and make flyers. You would hand them out, mail them out, people would put them on their refrigerators, and (hopefully) attend. The physically printed flyer would serve as a reminder — something “in your face”, as it were.

But today, what do we do? We want to save trees, so we email our newsletters and have weekly email blasts. We set up web pages for our announcements. And do you know what happens? No one attends. They forget about the event; they don’t RSVP. The email and electronic communications are easily ignored and forgotten.

This isn’t just a synagogue problem. I see it at work, where they have gone to email announcements, a web page, and an online newsletter that no one reads. It affects conferences, where electronic calls-for-participation are easily ignored.

Paper has distinct advantages. It sticks around. You can put it on your refrigerator. You can give it to a friend or colleague and spread the news of the event. But it costs, and it isn’t green.

So what is the answer? How do we publicize in this modern era? Your thoughts are welcome.