Event promotion: best practices

When promoting an event via web, social media, or email, there are some important steps to be aware of. Some of these are required by law, while others are just good practice and will help get people to your event.

Getting started

First: gather details for your promotion:

  • Details: event title, location, time, date(s), contact info, admission cost, etc.

  • Event description: a complete and compelling event description is crucial to your success. In the digital age, this not only helps potential attendees, but influencers and evangelists who can help you spread the word.
    • Why should someone attend – what will they gain?
    • Event descriptions should be comprehensive but to-the-point
    • Formatting should be easy to read -- use bullets. Don't make the reader work to understand the event. 

  • Photo: try to use a photo, rather than a design with text, to accompany your event posting. Using a photo makes your post more accessible, optimized for search engines, and makes your event posting adaptable to multiple sites and formats. In addition, a photo is compatible with paid advertising like Facebook or Instagram boosts.

    * If you must use an image with text, use minimal text and repeat the details in the event description -- this will help accessibility, SEO, and general readability. 

  • Target audience: who do you want to reach / for whom is this relevant?

  • Accessibility details: consider going beyond meeting accessibility requirements by adding details that could help those who want to attend. Read more...

UI Events Calendar: the first step

The events calendar is the first step to promoting an event on campus. 

  1. Visit http://content.uiowa.edu
  2. Log in using your Hawk ID
  3. Choose "add new event"
  4. Fill out the fields with your event specifics
  5. Under "unit(s)" – choose relevant units related to the event
  6. Under "general interest" – choose "After Class" if your event is relevant to students
    • This helps the Division of Student Life promote your event and reach a larger audience. 
  7. Submit

Once you submit your event, it will need approval before appearing on websites and calendars. Write to events@uiowa.edu for more information on that process.

Creating accessible event promotions

Accessibility is important. Making your event post accessible will help you reach a wider audience and is mandated by University of Iowa policy. To ensure your event promotion is accessible by students or others with disabilities, follow these initial steps.

  1. Always post your event to the Events Calendar (and After Class, if relevant to students). This will ensure that the University of Iowa accessibility statement is included. 

  2. Include the accessibility statement on websites that communicate about the event. The Events Calendar and After Class include it by default. Note that you need person's name and phone number who will be able to respond and provide an accommodation. 

    "Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact (insert: the sponsoring department or contact person) in advance at (insert: telephone number)."

  3. Include the accessibility statement in email promotions. The accessibility statement should be included in the footer of emails that promote events. The statement does not need to be grouped with each event mentioned in an email. 

  4. Post the accessibility statement on social media. While you should not try to include the accessibility statement in each social post, a good strategy would be to post the statement itself on a regular basis, letting your audience know that accommodations are available for events promoted on the channel. 

    In addition: posts promoting events should include a link to the Events Calendar or After Class, where the accessibility statement is included by default. 

  5. Avoid using image-based text. Text that is part of a design or image (JPEG, etc.) cannot be read by screen readers. 

  6. Write a good event description. As mentioned earlier on this page, a detailed event description will help all viewers understand the why and how of your event. 

  7. Learn more about best practices:
    1. Accessible Social Media (University of Minnesota)
    2. Creating accessible videos (University of Washington)
    3. University of Iowa accessibility site 

Social media promotion

  1. Use photos, rather than images designed with text, to supplement your post. Text in photos, especially on social media platforms, is not considered accessible unless the same message is presented in the text of the post (or alternative text as described below).

  2. Reach out to campus social media managers to ask them to share your post. A short list of social media accounts will be added here soon. 

  3. Link to the Events Calendar or After Class for more information in your post. These sites create a landing page for your event that includes the accessibility statement automatically. 

  4. Add ALT text when possible. ALT text is hidden text that describes what appears in an image or photo. Screen readers can present this text in other formats to visually impaired users. Facebook and Instagram support ALT text, among others. More about individual platforms.

Email promotion

There are several ways to promote your event via email. 

After Class

Event-focused email sent weekly to students (opt-in list). 

  1. Add your event to the Events Calendar and add "After Class" under the "General Interest" category. 
  2. Write to studentlife-marketing@uiowa.edu to request to be included.
    • Note: each week, several events are included by default. If we receive a request we'll do our best to make sure your event is in the email. 

University Housing & Dining email newsletter

News and events sent weekly to students living in the residence halls. 

  1. Make sure your event is posted on the Events Calendar and After Class. 
  2. Write to uhd-marketing@uiowa.edu to request to be included.

UI What's Up

Primarily news, sent monthly to all students from the Dean of Students. 

  1. Make sure your event is posted on the Events Calendar and After Class. 
  2. Write to colleen-scholer@uiowa.edu to request to be included.

Iowa Now

News and events sent weekly to all students. 

  1. Make sure your event is posted on the Events Calendar and After Class.
  2. Write to tricia-brown@uiowa.edu to request to be included.

Digital signage

Digital signage varies from building to building, but The Obermann Center maintains a good list of contacts and specifications. 

Need more help?  

Contact Student Life Marketing + Design at studentlife-marketing@uiowa.edu