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Special Events Planning

    Throughout the fall and spring semesters and often during the summer, special events – ranging from lectures and talks, exhibits, plays, musical performances, fundraising events, and conferences – occur on the ETSU campus practically every week.  The majority of these events are free and open to the public.

    Obviously, effective promotion will help ensure strong attendance, and early planning is essential for successful publicity.  When considering the best strategies for promoting a special event, it is important to have a clear answer to the following three questions:

• What is the purpose of this event?

• Who are my target audience groups?

• What budget, if any, do I have available for marketing?


Tip #1 - Plan Ahead

Tip #2 - Contact the ETSU Office of University Relations

A member of the University Relations team is assigned to work with each ETSU college, department, or office.  It is important to contact University Relations ahead of time and let them know about your event.  A media relations staff member will work with you on developing a news release that will be sent to all regional media, including newspapers, radio, and television.

There is no charge for sending a news release to a news organization.  However, newspapers, online sites, and radio and television stations are not obligated to use every news release received, especially given the high number that is submitted to them on a daily basis.  Though we cannot control if, or when, a release might be used, the regional media has always been generous in their coverage of ETSU events and happenings.

In addition, most news releases generated through University Relations are posted on and are considered for publication in Accent, the faculty/staff newsletter.

Tip #3 – Post your events on PlanIt ETSU

PlanIt ETSU is THE online calendar system for ETSU and is an effective (and free) way to promote your events to the campus and the local community.  Many calendar events are syndicated from PlanIt ETSU into various webpages throughout the university.  You may enter events by visiting this link:  If you want students to know about the event, please be sure to select the "current students" category and the event will also be displayed on   By subscribing to PlanIt, you can also learn about the latest events being scheduled and have information downloaded to your own calendar.  Learn more at

Tip #4 – Take advantage of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter

Tip #5 – Make sure information about department-hosted special events is announced in class and made available on syllabi and/or course D2L sites.

Tip #6 - Develop an e-mail distribution/mailing list of constituents

This is key.  Though many of our events are open to the public, there are target groups you may want to reach, and this is often the case within academic departments that are hosting a lecture that is specific to a certain topic or discipline.  If possible, maintain both a mailing list as well as an e-mail database.  Building these lists takes time, as does keeping them updated, but this will be extremely effective in reaching your target audiences.

Tip #7 - Develop printed pieces

The Office of Printing and Publications, located on the lower level of Sam Wilson Hall, can assist with the production of printed items for promoting your event.  There is no cost for design, proofing or quotes.  Printing costs will vary according to product.  Items may include: 

• Flyers

• Posters

• Business card-size flyers (easy for handouts or for leaving at businesses for customers to take)

Tip #8 – Send invitations

Some special occasions merit sending an invitation, and having accurate contact information (see tip #6) can pay off.

• Printed Invitations (Office of Printing and Publications can coordinate production)

• Letters of Invitation

• E-invite

Tip #9 – Purchase advertisements

While advertisements cost money, they do guarantee media placement and allow you to reach large audiences at once.  Cost will vary according to the media outlet.  Your Media Relations contact person in the Office of University Relations will advise you on costs.  Please note that all advertisements purchased through ETSU must be approved by Media Relations and procured via the eBucs procurement system before the ad runs.

Tip #10 – Utilize campus marquee signs

The Office of University Relations maintains marquee signs at campus entrances on State of Franklin Road and University Parkway.  If you have an event you want posted, contact Linda Malone in University Relations ( or 439-4317) for consideration.  Please note: the marquee signs are reserved for major university events and messages, and not every item submitted for consideration can be used. The digital boards adjacent to the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center (Mini-Dome) that are visible from State of Franklin Road are not controlled by ETSU University Relations.

Three other marquees are maintained by different campus entities: the one at the corner between Rogers-Stout Hall and Burgin E. Dossett Hall is maintained by the Student Organization Resource Center (439-6633), the one on the Pedestrian Mall adjacent to Roy S. Nicks Hall and the Campus Center Building is maintained by the Student Government Association (439-4253), and the one in front of the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center across from Warf-Pickel Hall is maintained by the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics (439-4343).  These signs are used by these units only for information on events they sponsor, and again, not every item submitted to these offices can be used. 

Tip #11 - Proofread, proofread, proofread!

Whatever you do, make sure you proofread your work.  Double- and triple-check spelling and facts on invitations, Web postings, ads, etc.  One slip of the finger on the keyboard can accidently change the date or start time of an event.

Tip #12 - Always remember:  Word-of-mouth is the most effective means of advertising, so make sure you “talk up” your upcoming event.

And finally…make sure you have fun!

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