Let’s Get Ready For VBS – Part 7

Publicity ideas

Small churches often have very limited budgets and publicity can be costly – so how can you get the word out about your VBS? Here’s some traditional ideas and some not-so-traditional ones.

1. Use a previous contact list.

This is probably the best starting place for VBS publicity. Contact  the families of  boys and girls who attended the previous year. You should have records of names, ages and address from previous VBS or kids events so assign  a group of volunteers to contact them.

Phone contacts are probably the least expensive method and offers a personal touch.

Post cards or personal invitations. You can design and generate custom post cards on your own computer using a free downloadable template from a company like  Avery.  Then customize the front with photos, event and contact info. Address the opposite side, stamp and mail.

– Home visits. This is another more personal invitation method which puts you in direct contact with former attendees who may not be attending church anywhere. You can use a home visit with a post card  or door hanger to leave with the family so they remember the important event details.

2. Newspapers

 – Ads – Putting an ad in your local newspaper can generate some publicity, but remember ads are generally expensive and may not be as cost effective if you only have a limited publicity budget. However, many papers have a free or minimal charge coming events section which will allow our to list your event  prior to its opening.

– News stories – This is a great free advertising tool, but you may have to get creative to use it. Many newspapers will only run stories announcing  your event if you also place an ad. Some will allow  you a few paragraphs on the church page. But if you  develop a human interest angle, you may be able to have a whole feature article in a visible location in your local paper. Here’s some ideas:

Figure out what is unusual or unique about your program; what is newsworthy. Do you have a retired carpenter who donated 25 hours of his time and materials to your event? Write a story about him and include what he is giving to your event. Maybe you have a woman in your church who has a unique collection of memorabilia who is loaning you some pieces of her collection for decorations – write about her and her collection, including a short paragraph about your event.

In one community where we lived, the local paper ran a story about me as a writer because I wrote the script for our VBS program and handmade some of my own puppets. That was the human interest angle!

– Photo ops – Newspapers love photos, especially ones about kids. If your youth group is doing something special to help promote your VBS, take a photo of the kids in action.

The young people at one church were involved in the puppet skit which would be presented each night during our VBS. So we took a photo of them with their puppets. In the caption it listed their names and when they would be performing their skit. In addition to some free advertising for our VBS, it also generated a ministry opportunity to go to a neighboring church and perform there for a Rally Day event! What fun!

3. Take advantage of free or low cost community forums

Radio/TV stations – Do your local stations have free coming events or service  announcements? Be sure to use them. Though it may cost a little, it may be an option to place an announcement on local public service TV stations with ads that rotate around the clock.

– Local Bulletin Boards – in area shops or  public places will often allow free posters provided you are considerate of size requirements and remove them immediately after the event.

– Yard signs –  Check on local laws, but you may be able to generate signs similar to the political campaign size for your local church members to place in their yards announcing the VBS event as well as a larger one or a banner for the church yard.

4. Think outside the box

What unusual opportunities can you access to advertise your event?

One church scheduled a yard sale and  had the youth group manning a lemonade stand where they gave out free lemonade and invitations to their upcoming VBS. They raised money for financing their VBS and got in some free advertising at the same time.

Another church participated in the Memorial Day parade, creating a float using props, costumes and decorations already collected for their VBS. They decorated a pull-along flatbed trailer one member owned for transporting his lawnmower.  Banners along three sides of the trailer contained pertinent info about the VBS event. The float generated photos for the local paper as well. It was a low-cost advertising idea which was fun for all.

Step 7 – Publicity is important – don’t let a limited budget keep you from getting the word out!

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