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Promoting your Sidewalk Astronomy Public Event

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When holding small sidewalk events where you plan to have only one or two people with telescopes, keep your advertising to a minimum or don’t advertise at all. This puts a stop to hundreds of interested public turning up to your event with only a few telescopes (or none!) available for viewing. We suggest just turning up with your telescopes and show those in the area the night/daytime sky.   
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For large public events or dark sky star parties, good promotion beforehand will help make the event a success. You’ll need to start planning approximately 8 weeks before the event. Many newspapers and public service announcements about free community events want information at least 6 weeks in advance. After you have done enough events, you’ll be able to set your own time table for promotion. 
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Promote the event in your own astronomy club first. Getting as many members as possible to be part of the event will ensure a good number of telescopes available for the event. The more the better! 
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If you regularly hold public events, it is a good idea to develop relationships with local newspapers, television and radio stations, free-lance reporters and editors. It is also important to find all the local online event calendars in your area.   It is fairly easy to send out press releases to everyone and to register events on line. You will be surprised at how often major news organisations pick up items from these postings and releases.
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Be ready if you are called for an interview. Assign a spokesperson for the event making sure they have all the information to deliver a quality interview if required. 
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Send announcements to local schools through the school office and to individual teachers and the PTA or other parental organisations as well. Many teachers will work with you to coordinate lesson plans or special projects that take advantage of the observing opportunity for their students. Schools often have websites, email lists and on-line calendars – don’t forget to ask them to include your event. 
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Local libraries can post flyers on their public news boards. The can also reach members of the public that are likely to be interested in getting a chance to look through a telescope. Ask them to work with you, possibly making a display of someastronomy related materials along with a flyer announcing your event. Libraries also use the internet as a resource and can be a great help in reaching the public and alerting them to your event. 
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Remember, if you are sending your announcement out by email, make sure to ask the recipient to forward it on to others who maybe interested. Simply asking help to spread the word, works!