Spread the Word: Promoting the New Farmers Market Programs Through Your Local Media
Here are some tools to help you promote your market:
Public relations and advertising are two basic tactics used whenever an organization is bringing a product or service to market. Public relations, or PR, isthe act of educating the media about a particular event, product or program in hopes the media will notify the public. And advertising typically involves paying media in order to reach the public. The best way to spread the word about the new Farmers Market programs is through utilizing both PR and advertising. Each NY farmers market is in the unique position of being a community-oriented entity. Therefore, the media is more apt to listen to what you have to say – and then “cover” your story or give you free advertising because it is in the interest of your community. However, there are many other community-oriented organizations vying for media coverage and what little – if any – free advertising is available.
Keep in mind that media entities have two distinct sides: the editorial side and the advertising side. You should first contact the editorial side and attempt to “pitch” the story of the new Farmers Market programs. To do this you’ve got to put yourself in a reporter’s shoes. A reporter wants to be the first to cover breaking news – so speak their language, the language of urgency! Here is a script:
“Hello _____, thanks for taking the time to speak with me. I am the market manager for the ______ Farmers Market. I wanted to let you know about a program just launched by the New York State Farmers Market Federation that will benefit our market and community….”
You could also fax, mail or e-mail the press release and then follow up with a phone call. Be persistent! Do not just fax the press release and expect to be on the evening news. Newsrooms get hundreds of press releases a day!
Getting editorial coverage through public relations is very important; the public is often more receptive to unbiased coverage than to paid advertising. However, you may not have to pay for print advertising if you ask the advertising department if they accept PSAs (Public Service Announcements). Oftentimes theymust meet quotas for PSAs, or, if they do not have enough paid advertisers they may “donate” the space to various non-profits. If you are paying for advertising in a publication, then you should ask to speak to someone in the editorial department in regards to doing a story about the new Farmers Market programs. Typically paid advertisers are more likely to get editorial coverage no matter how unbiased the media claims to be.
Get Creative! Grass Roots Marketing
Grass roots – or guerilla – marketing involves non-traditional tactics for spreading the word about an event, program, or product. It often involves looking beyond standard media (TV, radio, print) to new methods of communication.
Tools: Posters, tacks, and adhesive tape!
Contact other local community organizations such as religious organizations, libraries, schools, public service entities like the post office, and colleges. Ask these organizations if they would support their local Farmers Market by allowing you to put up a few posters. Or, simply go to these organizations and locate the bulletin boards yourself. Make sure to bring tacks and tape! And don’t forget, many for-profit businesses have “community bulletin boards.” For example, Panera Bread Company welcomes signage and advertising on their bulletin board. And many service organizations, like Scouts and 4H, may actually help to put up posters for you as part of their community service work.
Tools: Press Release
Many organizations – like schools, churches, your local Chamber of Commerce and senior housing centers – have in-house newsletters and programs that contain calendars. Many websites also have online calendars where the public is allowed to post events and news items. While these are not mainstream media outlets, these sites may cover news of the new Farmers Market programs. Be prepared to send along your press release to give them more information.
Health Service and Community Organizations
Tools: Posters, Brochures
When promoting the Food Stamp (EBT) program, consider community organizations that low income individuals may also be turning to for assistance. Women’s health organizations such as Planned Parenthood are excellent places to ask to distribute posters and brochures as women are often the primary meal planners in families. These organizations may also be willing to print the brochures for their own clients, saving you the cost!
Posting in Online Community Forums
Tools: Internet Access
Many local community publications such as daily newspapers and alternative weekly newspapers have online forums. These forums are often organized by topic and there is always a section for “community or local news and information.” All you need to do is set up an anonymous user name, and you can discreetly mention on the forum, “I noticed posters the other day saying that our community farmers market now accepts debit, credit and Food Stamp transactions – what a great idea! Has anyone used this yet?”. This is called “ghost blogging”, where you act as an anonymous individual commenting on a service or product. This is an excellent and powerful guerrilla marketing tool!