Spread The Word

Ann Harman

The East Cupcake Beekeepers Association has decided to embark on some events. The membership has grown in recent years from the classes it has offered. All the recent publicity over pollinator protection has given the club members some ideas for events not only for beekeepers but also for the public. Discussions with the neighboring West Gumshoe Beekeepers Association and two other close local clubs produced an idea for a Bee and Honey Festival. With all the interest today about honey bees and other pollinators the clubs decided it should be an event for the public.

Fortunately the East Cupcake Beekeepers Association has a perfect site for the event, a big field next to the fire station hall. The clubs decided on a Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The four clubs would have to find a Saturday without other important attractions. Two or three beekeepers could bring observation hives and would tell visitors about the life of bees. Other activities could be a display of bee equipment, face painting for the kids (and adults, too, if they wished), and a collection of bee-friendly plants even if all were not in flower at the time. The four clubs pooled some funds and plan to invite either the American Honey Queen or Princess to give demonstrations. Someone volunteered to find out if honey taste samples would be permitted and if honey as well as beeswax candles and ornaments could be sold. After a few more meetings of the committee the program for the day will be finalized.

Once that is done, now comes the important part ñ publicity. It is easy for each of the four clubsí members to know about the event since they have been asked to participate. Somehow the information has to reach not only other beekeepers but also, more importantly, the public. Yes, well-designed posters can be put in many places. A poster and a little brochure with information on the dayís program can be put in the Tourist Bureaus of the four counties.

The East Cupcake beekeepers have a good relationship with their local newspaper so it will be easy to give the editor a news release. It may be possible for the other three associations to do so also. However in many areas around the country the local or county newspaper has disappeared. That seems to be the situation with two of the beekeeping clubs. The East Cupcake and the West Gumshoe clubs could pay a visit, with a jar of honey, to their editor’s offices to create enthusiasm for the clubsí activities, even ones that reach only the club members. All four of the clubs give classes for beginning beekeepers. Two of the clubs give awards to their outstanding members. Such activities benefit from publicity in a local newspaper. (You might need two jars of honey – one for the editor and the other for the staff’s coffee break table.)

Regional farmers’ newspapers exist in many areas. Even if that newspaper does not have room to run a news release close to the date of the event perhaps, after the event, an article, with accompanying photos, can appear. At least that would give publicity for any future event. Some towns have one or more local radio stations that cover only a small area. However these stations like to promote local events. That news release should certainly be given to these radio stations.

One nearby town has a magazine that has articles about that area’s history, its natural beauty and also about local crafters and businesses. Give the news release (and a jar of honey) to the editor of that magazine. If the editor is interested perhaps a reporter will attend and a following article can give good publicity to local beekeepers as well as furthering interest in protecting all pollinators. The news release should also be given to the four club’s Cooperative Extension Service offices, as well as to those in surrounding counties. Suggest that the children participating in 4-H and FFA activities be informed of the event. Kids are always fascinated with observation hives.

Although the East Cupcake beekeepers have always had contacts and good relations with the local media, the other three clubs have had little contact with theirs. Those clubs need to develop contacts with their local media and cultivate their cooperation. Honey bees always need good publicity. Although media offices are always very busy, start with a beekeeper visit (with jar of honey in hand). If the office is just too busy ask to make an appointment for a short visit. After all, beekeepers are a vital part of the community.

Once contact has been made it is then easier to have publicity for other individual club activities. Three of the clubs participate in their county fair with a bee display and two also sell honey at the fair. All four participate in a farmers’ market with their honey. And if this initial event is a success the four clubs may make it a yearly event. All such activities benefit from publicity.

Now who is going to write the news release? Is there anyone in the four clubs that can do that, that has done one before, that knows what to say? No. However the newsletter editor of one of the clubs has volunteered to do the all-important news release. That seems to be a good choice since the newsletter always has concise information and is always done on time. All of the organizing committee will have a chance to read the news release before it is sent or delivered in person to the appropriate places.

Any newspaper deadlines have already been discovered, as well as an indication of how much space would be given to a news release about the event. Remember that a news release to a newspaper, or even a magazine, can be cut by the editor to fit space available so put information in order of importance. If the news release actually can appear several times before the event, information originally cut out may appear.
The name of the event and its date could be considered the most important facts to present first. Uh oh. What happens if it rains? Will the event be held rain or shine? Yes, it has to be held. Remember the Honey Queen is coming and beekeepers will have prepared their observation hives. Fortunately the East Cupcake club has arranged to use the fire station hall next to the field scheduled for the outdoor event. So the critical ‘held rain or shine’ information must have a prominent place in the news release. Since many people now have GPS in their vehicles or use their cell phones, the news release has to have a useable address for the venue.

Since the event will be free for attendees, that information needs to be clearly stated. However, if a future event would have an entrance fee or instead have a request for a donation that information would be important in a news release, as would the necessity for a reservation if venue space were limited. So even a well-written news release may have to be modified for each different event. By the way, an event with a fee or reservation means recruiting volunteers from the participating clubs to take care of those tasks.

Once the event’s name, date, times, location, and free admission are in the news release then some brief information about the activities is necessary. Since many would not know about her, the Honey Queen (or Princess) and her chosen demonstrations could be the first of the list of activities. Be certain to include observation hives and other attractions especially appealing to children. Families are always looking for weekend activities besides their children’s sports, especially if the weekend is rainy. If honey and beeswax products are being sold, that information would be valuable. Many people look for a source of local honey.

The most important items can be followed by separate paragraphs that can be cut by the editors. Although the clubs may want all the information included, only the editors know what will fit in a particular issue or announcement. One such paragraph could be that beekeeper members of the four local clubs will be wearing nametags (or caps or club t-shirts) and are happy to give information about bees, other pollinators, honey, and the club activities, such as classes for those wishing to become beekeepers.

If the event proves to be a great success the four clubs may wish to do it every year. In which case have a club member who is a good photographer take photos throughout the event. The photographer should be wearing a name badge indicating “Official Photographer” and name. These photos could be used for next year’s publicity, accompanying that news release. However the photographer chosen should ask permission to photograph individuals since some people do not want their photo or their children’s photos to appear in public. A release form is also a good idea.

Now that the various media has used the news release and your event was a huge success, you certainly can thank the editors and mention the event’s great success. The information given in that news release attracted many non-beekeepers who now know a little bit more about bees.