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Tune in to Festival PR

Published on February 4, 2020, at 5:35 p.m.
by Macy Krauthamer.
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Isn’t it every music lover’s dream to do public relations for one of their favorite music festivals? Lollapalooza. Bonnaroo. Austin City Limits. Maybe it’s just me, but the combination of music, travel and meeting new people sounds like a dream job. As festival season approaches, I couldn’t help but wonder, how does everyone know about Coachella? Then I started to think, how do other popular festivals set themselves apart from Coachella?

The music festival scene is booming right now, and as more pop up, the competition increases, which makes selling out this type of event even more challenging. However, a carefully constructed PR strategy can help orchestrate success.

Promote an experience

Building anticipation for the event is vital. This can be done by treating the festival like it’s a lifestyle brand. Make it something consumers want to buy into and be a part of. When I think of Austin City Limits (ACL), I think of its distinct colorful branding and promotions. ACL sells the fact that the festival takes place in the live music capital of the world. Another strategy is to attract the media’s interest in a festival by focusing on media relations to create buzz. A creative and tactical partnership will also help boost the brand’s social and cultural status.

Identify your “Hardcore Festie”

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In 2016, a survey done by Eventbrite and MusicWatch Inc. showed that the driving force behind the growth in music festivals is the attendee known as the “Hardcore Festie.” This is someone who attends an average of five to six music festivals per year. In festival PR, it’s important to focus efforts on identifying and targeting this audience to sell more tickets. The goal is to try to reach every potential attendee. Research plays a huge role in the overall success of this tactic.

Engage in corporate social responsibility

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A key strategy for a festival like Bonnaroo is to give back and find new ways to make the event eco-friendly. This particular festival has aimed every year to leave as little impact on the environment as possible. By simply purchasing a ticket, you support all of the on-site sustainability efforts: $1 from every ticket goes toward Bonnaroo’s sustainability work. The Bonnaroo Works Fund contributes to “nonprofits benefiting the arts, education, sustainability, and social significance.” Bonnaroo also has Planet Roo on the festival grounds, a haven for sustainability and global consciousness.

Make emergency preparedness a priority

As we’ve seen with FYRE Festival, the world’s biggest festival flop, publicists must plan for any possible bump in the road. A 2015 Nielsen study reported that more than 32 million people attend at least one music festival in the U.S. each year. With large, crowded events, it is vital that the emergency response teams and event planners create an action plan to respond to a potential crisis. Having this plan means being able to quickly communicate with your attendees through social media and/or a festival app. It’s also extremely important to consider things like potential weather constraints and their effects on mobility.

The bottom line: Festival PR is more than just music coverage and showbiz. It’s about building an experience and community that people want to join.

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