When promoting your event, you have two target groups:
- potential participants
- the press, representing the larger public
See also the chapter about Newcomers in this handbook, where we explore strategies to reach out to like-minded communities.
- Always use the hashtag #wmhack
- Promotion within the Wikimedia world: Connect to WMF and their social media team to boost and share your posts
- List of Twitter accounts who can help you spread the word: @Wikimedia @mediawiki @Wikipedia @Wikidata
- Tag accounts whom you want to spread your message (just one or two per tweet, be careful not to be spammy)
- Reach out to kindred organizations like OpenStreetmap, Europeana, Creative Commons etc, where people often collaborate with our people or our content.
- Address your local community in your local language, too
- Come up with a social media plan and schedule postings for the weeks leading up to the event
- Post photos of merch (T-Shirts, banners, goodies) to make people excited about the hackathon
- Pictures of your team are also good (people like to see faces)
- Set up a Facebook event for your hackathon and post frequent updates there, while using your chapter page only for bigger updates
- Share your event in relevant Facebook groups
- Use social media to thank sponsors (as part of their sponsoring deal). Depending on their target group, use either your local language or English, if they want to reach a more international audience
Promote on mailing lists
- Identify relevant mailing lists in advance and send a message once the registration opens, and possibly a reminder when it's about to close
Promote on local events
- Go to local meet-ups, hackerspaces, conferences and announce your event
- Consider printing placards and/ or flyers or stickers to hang up/ hand out at locations and events where your potential participants can be
Have one person in your team as the press contact.
Prepare for last-minute calls from journalists. Most of them will reach out to you on the day before or the first day of the event.
- Send out a press release about a week in advance of the hackathon
- Call them to follow up on your press release
- Use your connections: Journalists can be hard to reach, so make use of your connections and be bold!
- Journalists are often quite responsive on Twitter. @-reply to them, or send them a direct message. This often works way better than the traditional call
- It's not just newspapers: Think of all the media in your area: TV, bloggers, magazines, radio stations, local podcasts, ...
- Invite community media members to produce radio or film snippets - many free broadcasting communities also use free licenses for their work
Prepare stories and interview partners
Prepare a list of topics and names of interview partners for these topics to offer the journalists.
Journalists want to have names, so they can look their interview partners up in advance. Before giving out names, check in advance whether these people would be available – and comfortable – to give for an interview. Like with so many other things, collaborate closely with the WMF event team, they can help you figure out potential topics and interview partners.
- Local aspects of the Wikimedia community (executive director of hosting chapter)
- The growing role of Wikidata (Wikidata expert who can explain technical stuff in laymen's terms)
- How to further diversity in tech-communities (WMF employee or board member)
- currently relevant topic, e.g. "Facts matter" initiative (WMF employee or board member)
- What are they hacking? Projects developed during the hackathon (WMF developer/ MediaWiki expert who can explain technical stuff in laymen's terms)
Build relationships with journalists
Use the hackathon event to build relations with the media for further stories on your chapter's activities.
Even if they don't publish a story on the event, they may come back to you in the future.