While working for the non-profit organization, ARTS By The People, I often found myself working in company branding and marketing for our art classes and our various types of work with youth and senior citizens. Most commonly, I worked in the Lester Senior Housing facility in East Hanover, NJ, where I assisted teaching artists (artists that ran classes in their own artistic medium) with their classes, programs, projects, and so on. At the end of the rotation for classes, the organization held a large Arts Day that each senior student could participate in, whether it was singing a song they wrote in the song writing class or displaying a pastel art piece in the art show in a separate room. In order to gain not only artistic participants but audience members and visitors, we needed to advertise on the organization website and in the facility itself efficiently.
Now, I have never before taken a marketing class, but I am educated in social media and basic computer skills. I also have great people skills and had become personally acquainted with the comings and goings of the organization and all policies. What I find most important in not only academic writing but in community-based writing is to actually know your audience. There is no better way to get their attention without knowing them, whether personally or by acquaintance. One should know their target audience not necessarily personally, but know enough about their age group, their likes and dislikes and their capabilities. Know what captures their attention. To gain participants and spectators for our Arts Day, it was important to capture the attention of the seniors, their caretakers, and their families. This is a broad range of people, and when targeting a wide range it is important to keep things as simple as possible, but still remain upbeat and respectful of their time and intelligence.
Aside from public announcements within classes and directly approaching students to participate and inviting them to invite their families, I developed a more formal announcement that I blew up for posters to post around the building, inserted into e-mails to send to residents (they do have access to internet and personal e-mails), as well as forwarding the document to the offices of the facility so they could enclose it within their weekly news letters and post them on their news bulletins. The font was large and noticeable and the language was simple. I also made the font different colors in order to grab and maintain attention. I find that, with a wide audience (and with seniors in particular), their attention is fleeting and so it is important to grab their attention and get one’s point across quickly so they have the information and do not walk away because of too many little details. Only include the vital information but keep it upbeat and exciting.
When Arts Day arrived, we had over one hundred people in attendance, the most ARTS By The People has ever had. Overall, I think our advertising worked, and I contribute our success largely to the posters and flyers that were posted and handed out. After getting to know the seniors I was working with and seeing how and what they read and some other examples of posters hanging around the facility, I realized that it would be a good idea to follow a similar method. The only change I would make is to make the actual size of the poster larger instead of the standard paper size. Increasing the size of the actual paper would allow us to use even larger font and it would be instantly eye-catching. Overall, we as an organization were happy with our turn out and plan to use similar flyers for our next Arts Day.