We want you to be able to focus your efforts on educating and energizing your community, so we’ve put together a few promotional strategies to support you along the way.
Promotional Communication Schedule
We recommend kicking off your promotional activities as soon as possible. It helps to create a communication timeline which details your messaging at different stages of the planning process. Consider the following promotional schedule:
At 3 months out:
Set up your event page and social media accounts and make sure that these are up-to-date with all relevant information before you begin outreach.
Create a list of groups that you will be reaching out to — for example, specific universities, tech groups, or innovation programs.
At 2 months out:
Announce your event to the community through social media channels, LinkedIn, a press release, flyers, stickers, and via a podcast.
Consider using a ‘countdown’ to your event in social media posts, which you can update more often as you get closer to your event.
Start your outreach to the list of groups that you have compiled. We have created a short email template that you can use for this purpose.
Include exciting details like who your speaker or judges will be, where the event will be hosted, who your sponsors are, and prizes if this has been confirmed.
Create a list of press and media leads who you can reach out to. This can include a local newspaper, television, radio or podcast station, online tech or entrepreneurship publications, local online event guides, and local newsletter distributors.
At 1 month out:
Reach out to your press list and do a big social media push to keep the excitement going. Remember to use your event hashtags and include hashtags like ‘#Techstars,’ ‘#Entrepreneurs,’ ‘#Community,’ ‘#Startups,’ and ‘#[city].’
Communicate additional information that could generate excitement, like who your mentors will be.
Follow up with the community groups you haven’t heard back from yet, and engage those you have by providing relevant updates about your event.
Consider leaving a few flyers or stickers at locations like local public libraries, coffee shops frequented by the tech community and students, universities, coworking spaces, and innovation labs — all with permission, of course.
At 2 weeks out:
Plan for a final, big promotional push. Make sure your event is included in local event guides and remember to tap into your own networks.
Share discount codes in your social media communication. This is especially important if you’re struggling to sell tickets.
At 1 week out:
Remember to update your ‘countdown to event’ social media posts if applicable.
Communicate the importance of securing a ticket before the Friday of the event in your community and social communications.
Before, During and Post-event:
Your promotional efforts don’t end once participants have registered for their tickets. Make sure you keep them engaged and informed throughout the process. This will not only enhance their experience, but will also improve post-event feedback from participant surveys, which you can include in your post-event sponsor report. Good experiences and feedback will result in repeat participation and sponsorship, should you run an event like this again.
Never underestimate the power of shoutouts on social media. Use Twitter/Instagram/Facebook/LinkedIn and/or other popular social platforms to thank your mentors, judges, speakers, volunteers, and anyone else who deserves a shoutout. This gives them well-deserved acknowledgement for their efforts in front of a larger audience and helps them to share their experiences.
A post-event blog post is a great addition to wrapping up your event. Through your blog post you can share your personal experience as an organizer, acknowledge winning teams, and tell the story of your event as well as the stories of some participants or teams. A blog post can add a personal touch and help create buy-in for future Startup Weekends or other community events that you might want to run.
If your event gets sold out (125 participants maximum), it might be worth talking with your Techstars community support contact to see if it’s a good idea to schedule another event. You can promote your second event date on your current event page, and ask those who couldn’t register for your first event to register their interest in participating in the following event.
There are communities who have never heard of Techstars Startup Weekend. It’s important to provide the necessary education through your outreach, which includes an overview of Startup Weekend, its mission, and core values. This also helps potential participants and sponsors to determine if this event is right for them and if their goals align with those of Startup Weekend.
Communicating the Value
Clearly communicate the value of participating in, or supporting a Startup Weekend. We’ve found that communicating a consistent vision to potential participants, sponsors, mentors, and the community at large goes a long way. This strategy will help you with ticket sales and raising sponsorship.
Startup Weekend provides an experiential learning experience. We don’t spend the weekend lecturing participants.
We provide a safe, supportive environment. Participants can feel comfortable taking risks, testing their ideas, and pushing themselves to accomplish their goals. During the weekend, they’ll be joined by other passionate and driven individuals.
The final pitching competition creates excitement, stimulates healthy competitiveness, and emulates the experience of pitching for funding as a startup. Our prizes help winning teams pursue further building of their businesses.
We provide access to quality mentors who are influential industry and subject matter experts, keen to support their local entrepreneurial ecosystem by providing feedback and guidance to teams. Share information about who your mentors will be on social media.
We curate content for the weekend. You’ll hear from an entrepreneur who has had valuable experiences to share with you and inspire you as you get started.
We provide the framework and tools for your learning experience. You’ll work on a minimum viable product, incorporating principles of the lean canvas and going out to do real market research.
We take care of the food, while you concentrate on bringing your idea to life.
Energize and excite your audience by sharing success stories. Help them imagine what’s possible. Inspire them to take the first step to their own success stories. By sharing content that’s not only about the event itself, you create more interest and provide more value to your audience. See a curated list of success stories, organized by region.
The Right Audience
When you’re engaging in community outreach, include people with diverse backgrounds and skill sets.
We recommend having a good mix of people with technical, creative, business, students, or the backgrounds at your event. We believe that having a balanced participant group will ultimately result in stronger teams and an overall better participant experience.
As your event date approaches, create discount codes for groups that are less able to pay for a ticket, or groups with certain skill sets that have not registered for the event. Make sure that you have enough funds to cover your costs.
Ask your sponsors if they would help you with promotional outreach. They might have a larger local network, and it would also give them an opportunity to show that they are supporting the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
If your event falls after a local tech or entrepreneurship event, reach out to their organizing team to ask if they would be interested in cross-promotion.
We also include a marketing and promotion worksheet within our Planning Sheet to help you keep track of your efforts.
PR Tips and Tricks
Event Press Release
When creating a press release for your event, you must follow the approved Techstars template. The template provides you with the necessary framework to create a successful press release. Use key quotes from members of your organizing team or local leaders in the community, always include the main details of your event, and tailor the storytelling to make your press release stand out among the many submissions received by the media.
When your press release is complete, it must be submitted to Techstars for approval here. Please plan to leave at least 7 business days for review.
Today’s Media Landscape
There are fewer journalists, with greater workloads, covering more topics
It’s a noisy, crowded, and competitive storytelling market with more instability and unpredictability in the news cycle than ever before
Journalists compete with information flow (eyeballs, clicks, content engagement), including social media conversations, podcasts, short-form videos, etc. — audience engagement with what they publish is a critical KPI for their editors
Journalists make the decisions on what they cover and how the cover it
More than ever, PR storytelling has to be timely, relevant and make it easy for journalists
Journalists want fresh, on-trend ideas addressing topics their readers want to know about — if it is not immediately clear why a story is important for their readers, they pass
Press Releases are seen as a resource for facts, not a story idea
Access to experts and data gets more traction
Have a plan for what you’re going to say before you say it.
Key message: This is the primary take away you are looking to impart upon the final audience. What is the big picture you’re trying to get across? Be concise and make it easy to remember.
Supporting statements: Expand on the key message, explaining how/what/where/when/who.
Proof points: Come prepared with hard evidence (stats, trends, surveys) and soft evidence (success stories, positive feedback). How do you prove your messages?
Call to Action: Tell people how to put the information you are sharing to use. What do you want the reader/viewer to do?