Step 3. Invite additional stakeholders and attendees
To get the word out about the Town Hall, you’ll want to create materials that you and your partners can use for promotional purposes.
If your ecosystem is not very mature, you’ll need to plan on spending more time getting the word out about your Town Hall. What you want to avoid is the time and complexity of building a mailing list yourself. Consider forming a partnership with a local co-working space, hardware meetup, innovation center, or other organization with a built-in audience and an affinity with the Maker community. These kinds of organizations provide energy and can cross-pollinate your Maker-specific outreach efforts.
If your ecosystem is more mature, it is likely that the people you’ve recruited onto your Planning Committee have mailing lists you can leverage. The best such lists are those they mail to with some frequency, which most often means an email-only mailing list.
Guidelines for Email Success
Many of your partners will want to do the e-mailing themselves, using materials you’ve provided to support your Town Hall. Here are 6 guidelines to preparing a successful email invitation. To this, we’d add guideline #7 – make your subject line start with the word [INVITE] in caps and with the brackets as indicated. (Some people, particularly city leaders, receive a lot of invitations. This last guideline helps your invitation get more noticing value.)
Emailing that are formatted in HTML (rather than a flyer attached to an email) are preferred. Why? Because people can click on the event date and time to put the Town Hall on their schedule. A flyer is often a nice to have versus a requirement given today’s reliance on social media and email to get the word out about event.
Resources we recommend to get the word out:
- If you don’t already have an email campaign tool
Nice templates. Easy to use. Pay $9 for a mailing to 500 people
- To create visuals for social media posts
Canva – Free and/or very-low cost if you purchase visuals through them
- For custom graphics, flyers
Fivvr – Many graphics jobs can be obtained here for as little as $5. More complex jobs count as “multiple gigs” with each gig being equal to $5
- To track RSVPs for the event
Eventbrite – it’s free; if you don’t have an organization behind you, you may wish to use it for your email invitations
- To promote your Town Hall locally
Local newspaper or event guide
The Role of Social Media
Social media is important especially if you or your partners have a strong following on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Experience tells us that while social media provides additional frequency and can help get your email invitation noticed, the vast majority of your RSVPs to the Town Hall are going to come in as a result of an email invitation.
You’ll want to establish a hashtag for your event, both to get the word out in advance of the Town Hall and also the day of the Town Hall itself.
Suggested format: #makertownhall-YourCITYNAME
The Role of RSVPs
The purpose of the Maker Town Hall is to start a conversation with people in your city or town who are interested in the Maker movement as a way to solve community problems. It is doubtful that you can get these problems identified and solved in a single Town Hall. So you’ll want to use a system like Eventbrite, to collect RSVP, check people in against the RSVPs you’ve received. This allows you to follow up with the people who attended your Town Hall and turn the initial conversation into more of an ongoing dialogue.
Be prepared for RVSPs to come in waves. You will often have attendees signup within the last few days of the event taking place.