About four years ago, I shared “5 ways to promote your site in the first weeks of school” on this site. After rereading it, all five of those tips still stand, but we have added a few more since then. So here’s the sequel, five more ways to promote your site in the first weeks of school.
1. Plan a relaunch party. Set a date (we like the end of the first week of school) and relaunch your website, even if it has technically never unlaunched. You can build up to the event with a countdown, plaster your site name all over the school through announcements, posters, flyers and, of course, on social media. Then plan a few simple festivities for the day of the relaunch. Hand out swag, hold a contest, or…
2. Take them there. One of the most successful promotional events my staff has had was an event in the library computer lab where students earned a donut in exchange for coming in and checking out the website. Yes, we did get a few just looking to score a sugary snack, but several attendees were freshmen or students who hadn’t recently visited the site. Let them know that while on your site, they can add your publication on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or wherever they can find you online to get the latest news and updates.
3. Make content shareable. While you’re in the relaunching mode, add in social share widgets and buttons that make it easy for your readers to share content. And when individuals are featured, share the content with them directly through tagging. All of their friends will see them tagged in the content, which acts as a point-of-entry to your website.
4. Introduce yourselves. Hopefully you’ve already thought about setting up a beat system for the year, and the very beginning of the year is a great time for reporters to go out and introduce themselves to their beat contacts. Let those contacts know not only who you are, what you do, and how they can get in contact with you, but also how they can tip you off on their latest news. You can do this by setting up a press release or story idea submission form on your site.
5. Build a brand. Nothing can replace a clever logo, a catchy slogan, or a memorable commercial. Take some time to come up with a brand for your publication, and use it everywhere — on your staff shirts, on your press passes, on all of your posters and flyers. Keep it consistent and try not to change it too much from year to year.
What do you all do to promote your site in the first weeks of school? How do you let students know where they can find you online? And anyone have a strong preference — buttons or stickers?