Some quick and easy tips for help in promoting and marketing chess
I received a number of questions about marketing and promotion of chess. I have asked my husband Paul Truong, director of marketing and PR for SPICE, and one of the most successful people in chess marketing and promotion, to tackle these questions.
What are some of the things that local clubs and organizers can do to help promote their clubs or events?
Contact the local media (newspapers, radio, TV, school papers, etc.) and let them know what is going on at your chess club or event. Explain to them:
• Why your event is interesting and what makes it unique.
• Talk about noteworthy players that participate in your event, such as a local politician, a community leader, a top-rated young player, or a chess celebrity such as a national champion, etc.
• Discuss interesting aspects such as mixed doubles events, sibling teams, family teams, oldest vs. youngest match-ups, male vs. female, students vs. teachers and so on. If you do not pique their interest, the media will not turn up. In addition, have a press kit or information packet ready. The easier you make their jobs, the more likely they are to cover your story. You can also prepare a story about the event and submit it to your local newspapers.
• Provide high-quality and interesting photos. A picture is worth a thousand words.
What is a chess press kit and what should it include?
A press kit is a package of important information with facts and interesting tidbits about your club or event. It should also contain clear, high-quality pictures. Also be prepared to provide the pictures and data on a CD or via electronic means (email or on the website). This will save them time and they will be more likely to get the facts and information right. You can also do short video clips and upload on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, etc. and provide the media with the link.
Here are some of the things to include in a press kit (This can also be done electronically – online):
• An information sheet about your club or event. Include basic facts, such as when and where, and give a little history of the club or event. If your event has already received attention from other sources, mention that together with the Internet address or source. This helps reinforce the message that your activity is newsworthy.
• A contact sheet listing the key officers and how to contact them for further information. Give a brief description of each person listed.
• The press release. This should be the top page in the press kit, with the heading: “Press Release” or “For Immediate Publication.” Use preprinted stationary if you have any. Otherwise, place the name, address, and contact number of your organization at the top. Now pretend that you’re the journalist writing the story. You write the story. Lead with the most important information.
The purpose of a press release is to summarize the story for the press. Again, it must be done interestingly enough so that they would want to cover it.
What can local clubs or promoters do to obtain sponsorships?
Ask yourself: Why should someone sponsor your club or event? And be prepared to answer this question. If you are not, then you will have very little chance of getting any kind of sponsorship.
It is very seldom that a person or company sponsors an event just because the event needs money. If it does not make sense to them, it will not happen. Show the potential sponsors what you expect from them and what they can get in return.
In short, why should any person or company sponsor your club or event? It can be a number of reasons, but here are two possibilities:
• They are doing something good for the community or the local children.
• They are getting their money’s worth in recognition and publicity.
Why are websites and social media important?
In the tech age today, every chess event should have a dedicated website and social media. And this website should be up to date, with clear information, results, reports, lots of photos and videos, etc. If you do not know how to create a website, then you can use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram, etc. It is best to have all of them. One of the mistakes many organizers make is they spend time, effort, and money to organize chess events. But people cannot find any information about it anywhere. How do you expect people to know if you do not promote your events?
Sponsors / potential sponsors also want to know who they are giving money to, what are the causes, and how it can benefit them.
For example, Susan has the following:
Fans and sponsors / potential sponsors can get all the information they need. This is a must. You must be pro-active!
What are some of the do’s and don’ts for approaching the media?
• Do make it simple and easy to understand.
• Do explain why they should cover chess.
• Do prepare all information and facts in advance.
• Do have a media/press kit.
• Do cooperate any way you can to make their job easier.
• Do be polite.
• Do follow up.
• Do keep in touch.
• Do be positive.
• Don’t make it complicated.
• Don’t be unprepared to give facts and information.
• Don’t be a pain.
• Don’t be too vague.
• Don’t be rude or negative.
• Don’t forget to follow up.
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– GM Susan Polgar