Festival season kicks off in Memphis

To me, nothing says springtime more than the festivals that take place around Memphis beginning in March. We now have a few different crawfish festivals, culminating with the big daddy, Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival, which is organized by and supports our client Porter-Leath. There’s Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which we like to call BBQ fest. Throughout the year, we also have the Southern Hot Wing Fest, RiverArtsFest, Cooper-Young Festival, Gonerfest, the Down to Earth Festival, Memphis Italian Fest, plus many more art, music, film and food festivals.

There are so many festivals in this area. When it comes to sponsorship dollars and PR, the market is competitive. Let me address sponsorship dollars first. Sometimes our clients ask for guidance on sponsorships and whether they should or shouldn’t sponsor something. Sometimes sponsorship levels are out of reach for our clients, but when they are not, we think it’s a great thing to consider. It’s important to show how much you support the community, whether that’s by supporting a festival that contributes to a nonprofit or another event for a good cause. Sometimes, sponsoring something is not all about getting the recognition for it. We do help clients maximize their sponsorships when appropriate.

When it comes to PR around big festivals and events, how do you manage to spread the word among a plethora of other events around the city? There are tons of sites where you can post and submit information about your event, including all the local media websites. Are you using social media to promote your event? Target lifestyle and trade publications that fit your audience a few months in advance. We also like to set up TV segments for our clients to talk about their event and why it’s important for the community. If you have an email database, utilize an email marketing service like Constant Contact to invite guests to the event. If you are a nonprofit, send a PSA to local radio networks. Make sure to send information about your event no later than three weeks before, and that’s cutting it close. Four to 6 weeks is preferable.

There are so many ways to spread the word and promote your festival or event. Finding the right mix and the right method to reach your specific audience makes all the difference.

Office poll: What is your favorite festival?

Kelli: Mardi Gras (she’s from Louisiana) and Cooper-Young Beer Festival

Lauren: Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival

Erinn: RiverArtsFest

Kim: Cooper-Young Festival

Thomas: JazzFest in New Orleans, La.

Crissy: RiverArtsFest

Kerri: Gumtree Arts Festival in Tupelo, Miss.

Kristen: State Fair of Texas, y’all.

Courtney: RiverArtsFest

Ilovememphisblog.com compiles a great festival guide each year. Here’s the 2013 list of spring festivals. Which ones are you planning to attend?