Home News & Events NEA Big Read Survival Guide: Marketing & Promotion (Part II)

NEA Big Read Survival Guide: Marketing & Promotion (Part II)

Planning a community-wide arts engagement program can be challenging. To help ease the struggle, we’ve put together a series of posts which we lovingly dub The NEA Big Read Survival Guide. Each post contains some of the best tips and tricks that NEA Big Read grantees have learned over their years. We kicked off the series with a week on Partnerships — the relationships and community connections that are the foundation of every successful NEA Big Read. In this week’s section, we’ll be tackling Marketing & Promotion. How do you define your audience? How do you build key messaging about your program? How can you leverage your partnerships to help you share that message?

Sharing your message

Many of our NEA Big Read organizations have shared their own processes for creating, refining, and sharing key messages about their program with their community. Having a memorable, concise way to summarize your goals is a great way to share your program with a wider audience. For example, key messages for the NEA Big Read might include:

  • Encouraging people to come together through the joy of sharing a good book
  • Inspiring conversation, exploration, and discovery
  • Broadening our understanding of the world, our communities, and ourselves

These key messages should also relate specifically to your program and your community. If you were to pinpoint three or four of the most important aspects of your program, what would you say? As you build your key messaging, consider these attributes:

  • Be as concise as possible
  • Make sentences active
  • Help your audience be able to interpret and share your message in their own words; make it conversational
  • Discuss points that are interesting, memorable, and newsworthy; an author visit, a kickoff, a large community engagement
  • Take pictures and involve visuals so people can not only hear about your key messages but can see them

Once you’ve built these key messages, you can share them with volunteers, use them in news releases, reference them in media interviews, and even use them to develop advertising campaigns.


NEA Big Read banner for a downtown Brunswick parade last year. Photo by Lisa Jinkins, courtesy of the Golden Isles Arts & Humanities Association.

Other posts in this series

Explore the full Survival Guide