OK, this is going to be a little weird. It's a cross between a rant and some friendly advice primarily aimed at Preston City Council, because, IMO, they have a very, very big problem when it comes to promoting events being held in the city.
Basically, it stems from the fact that recently Preston held some rather good events over the summer holidays, primarily centered around the market square and the Harris Museum. And almost singularly failed to tell anyone they were happening.
Firstly was the Harris Flights, where the front of the famous Harris Museum and Art Gallery had an enormous temporary staircase erected in front of it allowing the general public to enter the museum via an entrance normally not accessible to anyone which also afforded views out over to the west of the city that you can't get elsewhere.
And very impressive it was too. With events held throughout each day and into the evening there was a lot to see and do. It's just a shame they didn't manage to actually tell anyone it was going on. Now, that is not the same as saying they didn't try, but the use of social media was minimal. In fact, if you Google for Harris Flights you will be linked to a page on the Preston City Council website which, surprise, surprise is a 404.
The VisitPreston Twitter feed - the official tourist information Twitter account for Preston - hadn't been posted on in over 18 months! Seriously guys get a grip!!!
*I have just noticed they have now closed the Visit Preston website!*
We (that is my family and I) went to several of these events and had to fight our way through crowds of a dozen or so for some. Many of the crowd spent their time asking 'What's this?', 'What's going on?' and on some events they had people handing out leaflets promoting the event THEY ARE ALREADY WATCHING!!!
The Harris lights event was attended by about 80 people (and some passers-by), mainly amateur photographers. Which is a shame because it was a very good show.
And the most recent event was the Harris Museums 'Light Night' where the museum had a host of art, music and children's activities taking place into the evening (all for free).
Last years event was a big success with lots of people turning up. This years? A damp squib, which is a shame given the enthusiasm and dedication of those involved. My wife was given the job of tweeting for them, but given the limited time she had it didn't quite have the effect we would have liked.
But this is a deep seated issue in our city, the council seem to have major problem in promoting events that actually let the general public know they are happening beyond a small article in the local press 2 days before. In fact, I recall a couple of years back we brought the local paper only to see an article entitle 'Preston Balloon Festival - Pictures Inside!' on the front page. How can you fail to promote a balloon festival! It was only a mile and half from my house as well!! So, please find below a few suggestion in getting more people to attend events in the city.
- Put up a couple of noticeboards on the main routes into the city and promote yourselves on there. It won't cost the Earth! In fact, why don't you use the ones that are in town as well?
- Use social media. The rest of the world moved on to this some time ago, if you can't even keep your current feed updated in 18 months then shame on you
- Provide a central online resource where events can be submitted and publicised
- Ensure that someone manages your Twitter and other social media feeds and keeps them up to date
That is not to say others are not trying. There is a great local blog (BlogPreston -http://blogpreston.co.uk) which is great, but obviously can't cover everything, as well as Twitter feeds from numerous groups and societies, but, as yet, nothing central.
So, Preston City Council, please sort this mess out. Lot's of events do happen in Preston, but they will be badly attended unless you guys pull your fingers out.
Rant over, but if anyone can let me know how your local council goes about (or doesn't) publishing local events please let me know here.
Last edited by Dos_Box; 13th October 2013 at 08:51 AM.
I know where you're coming from, Sheffield has the same problem. It tries a bit to promote itself then goes and tells tourists to go out of the city and visit the Peak District, and as a result lives in the shadow of its more successful brother, Leeds.
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