Ways to Advertise your Group
Members leave, and even your best members move away or die. So gay groups need new members. Personal introduction is by far the most effective, but most of us need other ways to promote or advertise our groups. Here are some that take little or no time and money.
- The listings at the back of some lesbian, gay, bi or trans magazines are free. Check the terms under which they accept information. You probably need to list your web site, e-address, telephone name-and-number, and PO Box address. It's often handy to give another name as telephone contact, so when someone phones up and asks for that name you know how to respond - "Oh yes, you wanted to ask about the Xxx Gay Society. Well, we meet monthly ... " This can be especially helpful with someone who is making their first gay call and is nervous, and it lets you introduce all the difficult words and answer many of their questions making it easy for them. But whoever is going to be telephone contact, get advice from some other local groups first.
- It's worth looking at other local gay publications. Some will list only specified dated local events. But this does not stop you writing in regularly to tell them about your regular public meeting - or any semi-public event you do.
- Look in the front of your local BT Telephone directory, Thompsons Local and any similar local directories. They often ask for entries from community services and groups, and the entries are often free.
- The local library service is changing, but traditionally they have been the best place to advertise any social group, straight or gay. They my require an A4 'poster' or data for a card index. Often the data will go onto a computer database of local information.
- Local newspapers need copy. Some groups have a version of
their newsletter from which names and personal phone number are removed
to give to prospective members. If you have one, or can create one, it
is worth sending every edition to each of your local papers/local radio
stations. If it's a week with little news, the papers still have to
fill the space with what is going on.
Some local papers maintain a What's On column of local non-commercial activities.
In particular, if you have anything topical or controversial to publicise, write or e-mail the local press and phone them. In the past, one group got a lot of free coverage merely by telling them it had its regular speaker meeting addressed by Rev Richard Kirker of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. A similar response came from Duncan Lustig-Prean talking during the gays-in-the-military campaign.
- Local authorities of different sorts, some towns and some cities promote their own database of local organisations, like the Surrey Web or www.guildford.org.uk. All you have to do is to phone the library and ask if it exists and how to get listed on it.
- Gay services are often free, like www.gaytoz.com and
www.queery.org.uk. You can
register with these now.
Queery is the database people will be referred to if they don't get an answer from London Switchboard, so it is particularly important.
- Local gay Switchboard (the London LGBT Switchboard tends to be national too and is on 202 7837 7324 see www.llgs.org.uk. It needs to be informed of new groups springing up. It's web site lists other local switchboards across the country. It is wise to check, from time to time, that they still have you listed, and, it's courteous to offer a donation towards their funds too, though it's a very effective means of advertising at any cost.
- Local gay-friendly churches and other faith groups will often be happy to take a small handbill or postcard, to give you a mention in their premises. Local Quakers, United Reformed and Metropolitan Community Churches are sympathetic, but there will be others. To see who identifies as LGBT-friendly look at the LGCM website and follow links to church organisations.
- Get a web site. It need only be one page and three or four sentences. If none of your friends will put it up for you, ask SLAGO to do it. Make sure it is well linked, and has the right tags so people looking for you can find it. Contact other groups with sites and get linked from as many as possible, including SLAGO, and don't forget to link back to them. Doing this is easy. To do it well, get some advice from those who know. You can start with the pages on web use from the SLAGO conference autumn 1999 on this site.
- Ask your nearest gay groups, or lesbian, bi, tv, ts etc. to give you a plug in their newsletters. Some of their members might live close to you and might like to join your group as well, and you can offer joint events for their newsletter as a way of keeping your name in front of them.
- Get any entry on Multimap: www.multimap.co.uk. Go to the site, type in your group's post code and wait till the map appears. At the foot of the screen is a changing display offering information about the area. You can send information about your group. The service is run by Thompson's Local.
Please write to SLAGO to tell us when you find other ideas, or if this information needs updating. We'll update the page. firstname.lastname@example.org