Thursday, October 20, 2011

The publicity bubble

Publicity generated by the media - including all this social media of blogs, Facebook and Twitter etc - can be somewhat misleading. When you're organising an event, large or small, you do what you can to get the word out there; it appears in the newspapers and on the radio, you tweet and facebook about it. People follow you, or like you, and support what you're doing by making comments and, hopefully, spreading the word.

News about Manx Litfest has, over the last year or so, appeared in the Manx Independent and Courier a few times, been in Manx Tails a couple of times, the BBC Isle of Man website, featured on Manx Radio on more than just a few occasions; we've built up 218 or so followers on Facebook, and 330-odd on Twitter. We've been out and met with a few book groups, touched base with organisations such as the WI, spoken with various sponsors and venues, including Manx National Heritage re all its various sites. And we've been spreading the news by word-of-mouth with just about everyone we meet.

And when you talk on Facebook and Twitter to followers, within the bubble of publicity we've created, it's easy to think that everyone knows what we're up to. Let's face it - you'd think that, on an island of, what, 90,000 people (give or take), it wouldn't be too hard for word to spread like the proverbial wildfire.

But it ain't that easy.  Sure, there's plenty of folk who know what we're trying to achieve. But when I'm out and about meeting people, I mention Manx Litfest and more times than I'd like the response is a blank expression, a shake of the head, and the words: 'Nope. Don't know anything about it...'

It can be rather disheartening. It's clear there's still a stack-load of publicity to still to do. There are parts of the Isle of Man we need to reach - and not forgetting further afield around the British Isles. Clearly, a literary festival isn't for everyone. There are people, so rumour has it, who don't read books. I know. I can't believe it either. But there are many who do. And we want to reach them.

So, a plea to everyone reading this - if you could, tell just one person, each day, and help spread the word. If you're part of a group - be it sports, arts, a charity, a social club - tell those involved. In the next few weeks, you'll start to see posters and flyers about Manx Litfest appearing in book stores and libraries etc. If you see a flyer, take one - if you already have one, pick up another and pass it to someone you know who loves books. If you have somewhere in your office/shop/club where you could put up a poster or two, drop us an email - manxlitfest(at) and we'll pop a few posters in the post to you. Same thing if you have somewhere to store a stack of flyers.

It's all about reaching the readers. There are plenty of you out there. So let's hook up.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Behind the scenes...

We're on countdown. Less than twelve months to go now, until the first ever Manx Litfest rocks into town. Behind the scenes, things are moving pretty fast. In fact, about just as fast as the days and weeks are scarily slipping by.

We are tantalisingly close to announcing several items of big news, including details of venue, the first authors who have signed up and an idea of a few of the events, including how we foresee the festival 'hub' taking shape.

All that, and more, will be announced over the next month or so. Believe me - we're desperate to get news out there to the blog/facebook/twitter fans and followers who have been supporting our efforts thus far. So just a little more patience and you will be richly rewarded, in a literary wellbeing kind of way.

On a day-to-day basis, work continues on developing the website - thanks to the support of the guys at Isle of Man Advertising & PR - and in incorporating Manx Litfest as a charitable organisation, courtesy of the team at Appleby Isle of Man.

Aside from that, we're laptop-deep writing letters and reports and filling in application forms for support from a variety of trusts and foundations, and preparing press releases and liasing with media - both on-Island and around the UK - to publicise the festival over the coming months. And meetings. Gazillions of meetings.

It's pretty intense - so, if we do seem a little quiet and distant at times, like a teenage sweetheart just before they dumped you, don't worry. We're still here. And we won't dump you. Providing you promise to come to events, of course, and buy a Manx Litfest mug/T-shirt/pen (or hip flask - I'm really pushing for a hip flask...)

Right. That's all for now, folks.

Happy reading.

John Q