Write to Publish—the annual conference that Ooligan hosts to demystify the publishing world for writers—has come and gone. By all accounts, it went pretty well. For an event that housed two concurring panels and a room for publishing vendors, the rooms were filled and it was well attended. Of course, the logistics of hosting an event is one thing (securing food for the event, finding speakers who were willing to talk, etc.), but getting people to buy tickets and come to the event is another, which is where marketing comes in.

I was able to talk to a few of the attendees at Write to Publish, and according to them, Ooligan’s social media pages and posts were what drew them to the conference. Social media (like Facebook posts) is an important marketing tool because it can seem like a more authentic and personal connection between brand and consumer, since the consumer has made that connection. A Forbes contributor argues that word-of-mouth marketing is one of the strongest aspects of marketing because it’s trusted, it can be shared, it holds influence, and it can go viral. Looking at your Facebook or Twitter feed is like having hundreds of people yelling their opinions at you, but the opinions are usually from trusted sources that you have carefully selected. You feel out of the loop by not knowing or going to what other people are talking about. A Nielsen survey found that 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over any other form of promotion. Social media is a form of word-of-mouth marketing, since consumers follow brands they love and trust. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and the American Marketing Association (AMA) decided to find out exactly what brands were doing about that fact. In a recent study, 64 percent of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. Stats like these show why businesses are so gung ho about stepping up their social media presence, and Ooligan is no different. For next year’s Write to Publish, and other Ooligan events, it’s important to engage Ooligan’s audience in social media to raise awareness about our events.

I joined the team just weeks before the event was taking place, so I came in a little late on the marketing efforts. However, I was able to help the team by following up with vendors to ask about food donations; sending out a press release to just about everyone on Ooligan’s contact list; sharing the Facebook page with local writing groups; putting up posters at Powell’s; handing out postcards at a book reading; and, of course, talking up the event with friends and family.

What does that all entail? A press release is written like a journalistic article and is sent out to organizations and businesses that would publish it. The press release gives all the pertinent information and is able to be published as is, or it can be edited as the company sees fit. This is good for the press release writer because it gets all of the event’s information out there. It’s also good for the newspaper, since it’s a free article that can be popped into their own publication. When a new product comes out, there’s a press release; similar to when the government does something, there’s usually a press release. You may be surprised by the number of articles that you read that are actually just reworked press releases.

Write to Publish was great this year, and if we start talking up next year’s conference now (or as soon as possible), we might get enough attendees to fill four rooms!

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