I work for a consulting firm and have planned and organized an outreach event at the suggestion of the managing partner. It will take place in a public library, in a meeting room. This is a free event for elementary-aged kids to learn some basic computer science concepts. It is worth noting that I live in a very populous, affluent area with a high proportion of citizens that place a huge amount of value on education and especially STEM education.

Due to a project that came up at work and was requiring all of my attention, I didn't get started advertising as soon as I had hoped. I was able to have a meeting with our marketing team, and they designed a flyer; however, I didn't get to hang them until last Saturday. (The event is this Saturday.)

However, I hung them in quite a few community centers and libraries in the area. These areas were full of people when I hung up the flyers, and are usually full of people, so I figured lots of people would see them. I also shared the post on social media (Facebook and LinkedIn) where it got some attention—not a lot, but not none, either.

It's been four days and still 0 signups on the Google form to which the flyer and the posts direct. I also said they could contact me by email, and I have received 0 emails. I checked the flyer and the posts to make sure the links were correct and working. They are.

I have just reached out to a contact I made while hanging flyers who seemed very supportive of the event and interested in its success to see if he has any advice. I am waiting on a response to that.

It is also worth noting that I live in the US and due to a horrific oversight, I scheduled the event for the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, which will naturally mean fewer people will be in town. Still, in an area as populous, motivated, affluent, and hypercompetitive as this one, I am perplexed that not a single person has signed up.

I am thinking it might be the case that parents are seeing this flyer and are feeling too lazy to click the link or fill out the form. It has about 7 questions, and in an area this bustling, maybe that's too much work.

The room is reserved and paid for with no opportunity for refund, so I plan to show up anyway with the materials and try to see if any kids who happen to be in the library that day are interested in coming in spontaneously and doing the activity in a less structured setting. I'm not sure what the best way to do this is as I don't think it's appropriate to "solicit" in a public library, so right now I'm planning on standing outside the door of the meeting room I have reserved with some markers in my hand and a pleasant expression, next to a sign advertising the event, and possibly gently asking passersby if they would like to learn about computers.

The reason I'm posting this here is that my social skills/people reading skills are subpar and I'm not sure if there's something unspoken going on that is glaringly obvious. I can't believe that in this area not one single person would want to sign their kid up for this. These are people who spend thousands of dollars for YEARS on SAT prep classes to guarantee their student gets a 2400.

Is there anything I can do to save this before it's too late?

  • 1
    Can you talk to staff at the community centers and see if they have any ideas?
    – DaveG
    Aug 28 '19 at 18:51
  • @DaveG I actually contacted them in the first place to get permission to hang flyers. Many of them were a bit skittish as I am affiliated with a for-profit company, and seemed to be willing just to let me hang them. I don't think they would be interested in going out of their way for more free advertising. I also asked the librarian at the library at which the event will be held, and she said they will only advertise the library's own events. I'm not sure I can count on other people to help me with this.
    – ribs2spare
    Aug 28 '19 at 19:05
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    To make your matter more clear: Are you asking about how to save the event last miute? Or are you asking how to approach kids in the library if at all, given that the registration period of your event is already considered a failure?
    – dhein
    Aug 29 '19 at 6:32
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    Are there Facebook groups for Members of Community, or affiliated with Local Elementary School? They're often a great place to get participation -- and make the "failure" a positive -- it's a SMALL class/event, with INDIVIDUAL focus, etc. Aug 29 '19 at 14:08

I would suggest you try NextDoor, to start with. In my neighborhood NextDoor has pretty good coverage because it is seen as very relevant to people in a specific geographic area.

Also, have you spoken to the local elementary schools? They know the benefits of computer literacy and usually have good pipelines for reaching parents.

You also might want to consider scheduling your next event in a less affluent location. Wealthy people are often relatively tech savvy and have the resources to teach their kids. People who can't afford computers for their kids might be more interested.

  • I emailed the PTA of every single elementary school and got 0 responses. I imagine this is either because the website info. about the PTA was outdated or because school hasn't started yet. I agree that next time a less affluent location would be better, but unfortunately the less affluent places near me come with safety risks that I'm still working up the courage to confront. I will look into NextDoor, thank you very much!!!
    – ribs2spare
    Aug 29 '19 at 21:27
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    @ribs2spare, I think you are probably right, summer vacation is probably tanking their response. I hope you don't give up, and maybe you could try again during the school year? Even if you want to run your event during the summer, having contacts with schools in the targeted areas starting around April (after spring break) would give you time to get kids signed up. Aug 30 '19 at 16:08
  • I agree that safety issues are a bit daunting; maybe there is a community center in the area that you could partner with? One with fairly secure facilities? Aug 30 '19 at 16:10

I don't know if this is the case for the parents in your area, but I (25F, no kids) find out about most of my events via Facebook events and groups these days.

I think it's worth creating a public Facebook event (not just a post). This will allow it to show up in Facebook searches. Then, you could find a few relevant local Facebook groups (maybe groups about parenting or STEM?) and post the event there -- but first make sure the groups are OK with that kind of promotion. You could even consider spending some money on Facebook ads if you have a budget for that.

  • 1
    Often local groups will have a Promo Day (ours is second Mondays I think), where people in the neighborhood can share links about their for-profit businesses, but people can share a link about an event outside of those scheduled times to not miss the event deadline. I ended up helping someone in the July4Parade based on a July 1 post they made requesting volunteers. Yeah, it was technically an ad for them, but the experience was getting to wear a silly costume in the local parade! So your event may ultimately advertise your business, but if the experience is a free workshop, it could help. Aug 29 '19 at 14:11

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