Creating and Maintaining a Presence

With the semester flying by, the last month has been filled with plenty of work and creating a presence for the writing camp has been one of my top priorities. It is always a challenge to get the word out about events, but keeping the momentum going is equally as important as establishing it. The camp doesn’t start until June, and a lot of parents and teens are not yet thinking of what the summer months have in store. For this reason, it is vital that the promotion of the camp continues at a strong pace.

Over the last month, I have been working with my advisor, Professor John Fried, to cultivate the presence of the camp over social media and around the Pittsburgh area. Our social media accounts have been well established at this point, and we have run several advertisements on Facebook. Physical flyers have been hung around local libraries, virtual flyers have been posted in various groups, and posts are regularly being made to our social media accounts. However, in order to extend beyond these efforts, I have been working on some new advertising ideas in addition to maintaining our other efforts.

My first attempt at trying a new advertising approach off of social media has been in conjunction with local parenting blogs. Several blogs have agreed to add the camp to their calendars, and with their large, faithful audiences, I hope to reach more parents. When thinking about the genre or mode of delivery for our advertisement, it is important to think about the different impact each style can make and which audiences each platform is most likely to draw.  In the English classroom, genre is a frequent discussion as is the intended audience of any piece.  Deciding where to advertise and how relates directly to these in class discussions. While different forms of social media draw different audiences, different genres of literature spark stronger interest from certain groups. When thinking about spaces for promoting the camp, I purposely chose these blogs due to the ability to reach parents with potential campers. Although parents frequent social media, places like Facebook and Instagram are huge, and even with directed promotions, there is a good chance the camp will be overlooked there. On these blogs, however, there is a direct connection to parents who are already dedicated to their teens and actively searching out opportunities for them.

Writing for an online space is different from writing for print, just as writing for a blog is different from writing a social media post. When developing the different advertisements, I had to pay careful attention to the little stylistic choices and overall format of the posts. As an English major with a writing concentration, I have been exposed to the importance of these things in multiple genre writing classes, and the skills I developed through these classes are proving to be very useful. When writing for social media, the posts change depending upon the platform they are on. On our Instagram, I focus on creating short captions with colorful photos. While on Facebook, I focus more on presenting the information in a condensed, eye-catching format. For the blogs, I was given 300 characters total to present our message. It was a bit of a challenge to condense down every amazing thing about the camp to these 300 characters, but ultimately this led to the creation of a condensed message that is tailored to the blog. Genre plays an important role in advertising among different spaces, and I feel better prepared for creating and managing advertisements because of my English major.

As has been done in the past, I am preparing to mail out many physical flyers to local schools this week. This should help to draw in the attention of high schoolers directly. I am hoping that by reaching both the parents and the children, we will increase our chances of them registering. Parents have the final say in if their child is enrolled in the program, but the camp is designed for those who already have an interest in writing. A large number of past participants indicated that they heard about the camp through their school. For this reason, it is very important that we maintain our presence in local high schools. The flyers will be sent to guidance offices, English teachers, and school librarians in order to target teenagers with an already established appreciation of writing. By targeting this group, we should be able to capture the attention of the teenagers who would be the most likely to enjoy and benefit from an experience like the one we are providing.

Hopefully, the momentum the camp currently has continues and applications will roll in during the following months. I am going to continue to explore new outlets for promoting the camp while continuing to maintain our existing platforms. I look forward to continuing to cultivate a presence around the Pittsburgh area, and my excitement is growing every week as the camp start date crawls closer. 

                                                                                                             Catherine Evans


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