How to Promote and Advertise Your Event
Every week there are between thirty and forty player-run events across the galaxies. Many are very well advertised and attended, others are not. Occasionally events will even get cancelled because of lack of apparent interest.
What can be done to increase interest and attendance for your event? It's all about how you promote your event! There are a number of things you can do to get your event known to your server (without becoming annoying). As in real world advertising, you want to get your message out to the greatest number of players possible and try to create an excitement around what you are doing.
1. Post on your Galaxy forum
The first step is to make a thread for your event. While only a percentage of players read the forums, this is the best place to begin because everyone who does read the forums has groups of friends online and they will pass along anything they find interesting.
If you're in the pre-planning stage, this can be a place to recruit sponsors, hire entertainment, put out info on your party and create that initial buzz. Depending on how complex your event is, you should do this at least two weeks before your event. If you are planning a very large event with multiple entertainments, you may want to add an additional week.
If you're at the point where you simply want to promote your event and get people excited, this will be the place to do it. Once again, post at least a full week, possibly two before your event to make sure plenty of people know about it.
The thread you make is where you can post long descriptions of rules or paragraphs of back-story for role-playing events. If you have prizes or sponsors, mention them as they are added. After a while you might want to abandon the thread and start a new fresh one that reflects changes.
By having a regular thread, players can easily post questions and create a discussion. If players feel they are part of the event before it even happens, they will be more likely to attend.
2. Post in the Official Event Thread
After creating a regular thread for your event you will want to make a post in your galaxy's official Event Thread. This is a sticky thread updated weekly by the board Mods. This thread is used by the Events Team when putting together the list of player events. The Player Event list is posted on the Current Events page. By being on this list you will increase visibility for your event and hopefully increase participation.
When posting to the Player Event thread in your galaxy, you will want to keep it short and simple. It will make it a lot easier for the Event Team to post your event if you stick to this format:
Name of Event: Make this descriptive so readers know right away what is happening
In-game Contact: Put a name that players can use in-game tells or emails for more information
Location: Planet, City, Waypoints or any other info. The more info the better
Date: Type out the month since European format puts the day first i.e. February 20th
Time: Be sure to put your time zone. Refer to our Station Time Zone Converter for assistance
Purpose of Event: <Keep this section short. If you have a PvP with lots of rules, post a link to a regular forum thread where it can be discussed.
These threads are posted two weeks in advance, but you can post earlier. Just remember to return and put your invite into the proper week when the updated thread is posted by the board mods.
3. Other websites In addition to the official SWG forums, there are a number of fan sites that post information about player events. These fan sites have their own forums, and their own cast of regulars. By posting in these places, you can make your event know to another cross-section of players. A list of SWG related sites can be found at the Fan Sites page.
Another common tactic is to create a website specifically for your event. A great example is the website created for the Miss Galaxy contest held on Eclipse. Having your own website (or even just a forum in a PA website) lets you craft your promotion and make information about your event easy to find. Players who do make their own site often make it somewhat "in-character" to add to the fun of it. Sometimes, more complicated, or ongoing events might require a dedicated website and forum just to keep all the players informed of updates, stats, prizes, etc. A good example of this type of ongoing event and the website needed to organize it can be seen at SWGhuntersguild, a website dedicated to an ongoing player bounty hunter system on Naritus.
4. In-game Advertising This is where some real leg work comes in. Since only a portion of players read the forums, you will want to make sure you can advertise in the game. There are a few ways to do this:
PA's - Getting a PA involved (even if you're not in one) is a fast way to reach a lot of players. By contacting the leaders of a PA you can ask them to email their members about your event. It's best to do this the week of your event. Too far in advance and people forget. This is also a great way to find people to help you with your event. The day of the event have your contact do a guild message to get their members interested.
Cities - Much like the PA's, cities can be a great source of patrons (as well as assistance). If possible, you can ask a city mayor to email his or her residents to advertise the event. If your event is taking place in, or is sponsored by, a city, it can help drive business to them. This will help give them incentive to help you promote.
Sponsor other events - People who attend one event are likely to attend another. If you hear of an event happening the week or day before yours, find the person running it and see if you can advertise at their event. You could donate a prize or credits or volunteer. One popular method of advertising is to build an Imperial Probe droid and give it the name like "Swoop Race Sat - tell Pex"
Word of mouth - It's hard to play a MMORPG in a vacuum. Players who get to know other players and socialize tend to have well attended events. Nearly every player spends time in a cantina. This can be a good place to meet other players and let them know about your event. It's important, however to not be annoying. Macro'ed advertisements get ignored pretty fast. If you are excited about your event, other people will be too. If you have people helping with your event, or just friends, let them all know that you'd appreciate them hyping your gig when they can.
Signage - A common method of advertising is to name a house, PA hall or other player structure with information about your event. If you aren't in possession of structure, you can probably find someone who is willing (or willing to take a bribe) to rename their structure to help. Preferably a merchant or some other well visited structure. At the very least, if your event is to be held indoors, change the name of that structure, so people know where to go when they arrive in the area.
5. Post-event wrap-up.
Once your event is over, you're not quite done. If you want to run another event be sure to post a "wrap-up" thread telling everyone how it went. Ask for advice on how to make the next one run smoother. This will help put your name into people's minds when they see an advertisement for your next event and make advertising any future gigs easier.
Hosting an event can be a lot of work, but the reward is usually worth it. Whether you're running an event to build business, enlarge your hunting range, meet people or just want to have a party, proper promotion will make a huge difference in your turnout.
P.S. As a bonus part of the Friday Feature, you can download the new Imperial Crackdown wallpaper. Check it out.