How to make your event sound AWESOME! (or ‘successfully filling in your Festival of Museums registration form’)

Part of the 'Festival of Museums - Plan it, Promote it, Achieve it!' series

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You’ve had the brilliant idea for an event. You’ve spoken to colleagues who also think it’s a goer, so now you come to register… and have to also convince other people it’s brilliant. Tricky. Especially if you have developed SERIOUS form fatigue.

So, here are a few pointers on how to take the pain out of a) talking up your event and making it sound as engaging as you know it will be; and b) filling in the Festival of Museums registration form (deadline 28 February 2017!). Go grab yourself a cuppa and a choccy biccy and we’ll talk through how to make form-filling a total breeze.

What’s in a name? An event by any other name would sound as awesome…

And here’s where it starts – the event title. Your first opportunity to capture people’s imagination and give them the hunger to find out more. You might have started with a title, but often it’s something that evolves when you’re planning (the phrase ‘working title’ is used by the biggest and most famous companies – think Disney!). The key things to remember when thinking up your final name are:

Make it brief, fun and attractive to visitors

Snappy titles are often the most effective. A two-line biopic of what the event is about?… Not so much. Think about your target market – what would catch their eye among all the other listings?

Make it memorable

Try to make it different and memorable enough that they can identify your event if they were to see it again. Would they recognise the name in print if they’d heard it briefly on the radio on the school run?

Does it tell them what the event is about?

This is the most important, and also the trickiest bit. Don’t pick a title that meets all the criteria of being snappy, eye catching, memorable and fun but gives no indication of what people can expect. Although it will often appear with the event description (see tips below!) it may also appear on its own, so don’t rely on your description.

The art of the event description

Once you’ve whetted the appetite of your audience with your title, now it’s time to sell them the content. So how do you keep their interest and seal the deal?

Content

Make your content engaging, lively and imaginative and give people an idea of what to expect. Remember – your event still needs to stand out (it’ll be competing with a few others over the weekend) so try to bring each element to life for your audience. Create a picture of the day which will capture the imagination of visitors. Don’t sell yourself short, but don’t promise the earth! Be realistic.

Include any essential information like age guidance, whether tickets are limited, or if you’ve got anyone well-known attending. Remember to include any words people might use to search for your event.

Clarity

Remember to give them the essential information – have you covered the five Ws?:

  • WHO is holding the event and who is it for?
  • WHAT is being offered?
  • WHERE will it be taking place?
  • WHEN will the event occur? (Although handily, in our registration form, this is covered elsewhere. But do remember to include it when doing your own promotion!)
  • WHY is it important – why will your audience want to go?

Tone

This will depend on your audience, but try to address the reader directly, use active rather than passive language, keep it fun and appealing, and make people feel welcome. Basically, ensure you sound like a human being!

Structure

Keep it brief. The word limit for event descriptions on our site is 150 words, and for many other listings will be shorter. People don’t want to wade through an in-depth description of every element of your event (even if it is awesome!). They make up their minds within seconds, so give the good stuff up front. Write a first line that will capture their interest and make them want to dig further.

Test it out

Read your text out to a friend – preferably one that fits in to your target audience. Do they find it interesting? Would they want to come? Have you got the grammar and tone right? Do they feel you’ve missed anything? Getting the feedback at this stage means you can make changes before it ‘hits the streets’!

A picture is worth a thousand words

Now, humans are visual creatures. The picture you choose to illustrate your event is really important. We can’t stress this enough. IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT! It will appear on our website as the first thing people see of your event (along with the title) so it needs to entice people in. Make it captivating, interesting and colourful.

If you have a professional photograph that fits the bill, perfect. If not, ensure that it’s well-lit, in focus, composed well (is there a clear subject?), colourful, impactful, and conveys the essence of your event. If you’re doing a circus workshop and you supply a static exterior shot of your museum, it’s not going to get across the excitement of the event… and people may overlook it in favour of an event with a more enticing image.

If you don’t have a photo that obviously lends itself to the event, think about getting an image of something that hints at the content. Think an arty shot of a magnifying glass for a murder mystery for example. Remember usage rights, copyright and credits though!

The other bits

There are a few other fields in our registration form that you’ll be asked to complete, so, very briefly:

One thing that makes your event stand out

Think about this. What makes your event different from the others that might be going on over the weekend? What makes it unique? Remember your audience. We’ll use this to write tweets, so please help us out too!

Facilities & access

This is pretty straightforward, but worth a mention – think about your facilities in relation to your event. If you’re running a family event but don’t offer baby changing this may throw up a messy problem! Use this field to think through what services you have vs. what you’ll need to offer on the day. This section now aligns more closely with Euan’s Guide than before, so bear this in mind too.

Target audience

We keep banging on about this, but everything relates to the audience. So it’s really important, when asked, that you know who will find the event appealing. Be as specific as you can – it will make the appropriate audience feel that it’s tailored to them rather than for ‘the general public’.

Person to be involved in media opportunities

Obviously if you’re a one-person band, this won’t give you much choice of spokesperson for media opportunities. If, however, you do have the luxury of choice, pick someone who is comfortable and experienced in speaking to the media.

Go go go!

So, you’re now an event listing god! Well not quite, but this should give you a few pointers on where to start, and do justice to your event. So get registering using our If you have any questions contact us on FestivalofMuseums@musuemsgalleriesscotland.org.uk or 0131 550 4100 and remember – you have until 28 February 2017 to get your event in to the Festival of Museums programme. Let the awesome event descriptions roll in!

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