You've got your idea in the bag and finally you know your adventure is going to happen. Whether you're fundraising, hope to make a career out of content creation, need to offer some realtime return for sponsors that helped your trip happen, or you simply like the idea of people enjoying and getting involved with your journey, this is the guide for you.
If you are planning an expedition for nothing but soul food and have no care about sharing on social media or becoming the new Forrest Gump, there’s no need to read this!
There's no distinct right or wrong way to properly promote and share an expedition, this depends entirely on your aims and abilities. Below is a rundown of different methods to take your story to a level beyond just personal satisfaction and struggle.
But first, one rule: remember, nobody will ever care as much about your project as you do. You have to want to take on your challenge to get the most out of it. Handily, if you're enjoying yourself you'll heighten the chances of people helping, following and supporting you.
Nothing is more effective as meeting people face to face. If you want a sponsor you're more likely to encourage their support in person, than via email.
Ensure that your meeting plants some roots and carry something to hand over so they can follow up on your internet links, go to your webpage, and get in touch with you. A business card, postcard is ideal, but design it cleverly. You and your ideas have to stand out.
If you’re trying to keep things light, I recommend Moo Minicards. Half the size of normal business cards they allow a different image on every single card, giving a great first impression. Get 10% off your first order with Moo by clicking here
If you don't like carrying business cards why not create one on your phone, and when you want to 'give' your card to someone just ask them take a picture of your digital card. Here's mine.
We live in a wonderful age where communication and technology enable instant global sharing. Sending out a story from the field can happen in so many forms: film, photographs, text, podcasting, virtual reality, tracking maps and/ or a combination of all the above can help paint a vivid picture of your quest.
Your website is an online brochure for your project, the first go-to for anyone interested in your project. It's also a great place to help build the concept of your adventure. Make it relevant to your nature, your attitude and projects. Ensure that people understand what you're about as soon as they visit your homepage. And make visible links to social media channels a priority, this is where you'll start building a following.
Love it or hate it, Facebook is the ultimate tool for multi-media sharing. Whether you’re using interactive capabilities with external apps or embedding content content straight onto Facebook, the spread of potential followers is undeniable.
Tips and things to remember about Facebook
- Your personal Facebook profile is limited to 5000 friends, so set up a page about your adventure(s) if you think you're in this for the long term
- If you plan on doing multiple journeys over time then don't set up a different Facebook page for each trip, you'll limit your audience growth and confuse your branding. Instead, choose your overall title/ name/ brand and share all of your projects through the same page. If in doubt, your name is probably the only brand that will stay with you for life.
- If you do set up a page for your adventures, try not to incessantly share the same content on your profile, too. Let those old friends of yours choose whether they want to follow you.
- Facebook likes content that keeps people on Facebook, so if you make a video blog for YouTube, you'll get more hits and views if you upload the film directly into Facebook rather than lazily sharing the YouTube link. This goes for all external links.
It’s great practice tightening up your story telling into 140 characters or less. Twitter is a quick and easy way to share a momentary anecdote. This is primarily a news channel, so don't use it the same way as you would Facebook. Try to embed a picture (this no longer costs you any characters) to up the chance of someone engaging with your Tweets. By far the strongest tool for audience growth is getting people to retweet your stuff.
Insta is growing in power at a faster rate than any other social media platform and is perfect if you're arty and prefer beautiful photography or film to portray your experience or brand. Take pride in your Instagram page and work out what your theme and style is. The best Instagram accounts stick to what they're best at.
If writing is your thing you might want to take a more bloggy approach. Wordpress is a popular option (and can also double up as your full website). Most web design platforms like Strikingly, Squarespace or Wix offer integrated blogs. Tumblr is a less complicated option for the casual blogger and my personal favourite is Medium, it's clean, easy and fun to write on, and comes with great SEO and stats.
There is no richer medium for storytelling than film and the quality of smartphone cameras and editing apps you can easily share your experiences on the move. YouTube and Vimeo are the big hitters when it comes to hosting video but don't underestimate the power of Facebook and Instagram for film.
If you're interested in learning how to film and edit on a smartphone I run regular workshops
Using a GPS tracker like a Delorme InReach or SPOT gives you basic epurb options in case you get into trouble, as well as uploading your position to a live map. Choosing to make this available might compromise your safety (because people can see where you are) as Laura Kennington freakily found on her kayak down the Volga [turn off tracker before you find your camping spot and turn on once you're moving the next day to avoid this], but there's something beautiful magnetic about watching progress on a map from halfway around the world.
If you're engaging with the media or inviting people to join you on your trip a tracking map is incredibly handy. There are other mapping options like using Strava through a smaller GPS unit or phone, or an interactive social media mapping app like Punkt.
If you are able to construct a sweet PR machine around your expedition, the results could be unbeatable. This isn’t easy. A well-timed and well-written tweet could reach more people than a feature in the Times, but if you work on a trickle-up effect media coverage could boost your following.
Newspapers, radio and TV. As soon as you start appearing in ‘little’ publications, bigger ones might take notice especially if you have a good, positive message alongside a unique venture. There is a mythical platform called 'The Newswire' which logs and shares any stories from local or global media that are getting traction. Get on the newswire and you're running.
I don't focus much on media these days (to my detriment, probably) but when I have, simply spending ten minutes on my phone on approach to a town will make a difference. While floating down the Mississippi on my paddle board I googled the newspapers and radio shows in the next town downstream then sent each one a quick introduction with my social media addresses attached. I got 14 front page articles in those three months of paddling, and countless TV interviews. It was crazy!
Worth focusing on. For example, on my ElliptiGO trek magazines like Outdoor Fitness and Runners World were perfect fits for the story. Remember though, these publications often compile content up to 8 months ahead of release. Make sure you get in early.
Media/ Press releases
A short, concise press release with a well-taken illustrative image attached can make the difference. Make a good first impression, edge out waffle, add contact details and send to every media outlet you can. It's an unfair accusation, but if you assume journalists are lazy and your press release is well written enough to be copied and pasted into an online or printed publication you're more likely to get some media out of the release.
Find a contact
Writing to a real life person rather than the generic news gathering address on a website will get you brownie points. Show you care about being featured and you’ll be given more time. If you're on a journey then the sports, features and travel sections will likely care more than, say, financial or news editors.
Ultimately, your first port of call should be to understand your strengths and how you want to use them to promote your expedition. If you’re lacking a vital skillset like copywriting or video editing consider seeking help from someone who can do what you can’t.
Or just spend time improving yourself. YouTube is a great teacher, for starters.
Always do what you feel is right and works works for you, rather than just doing what others do because you think that’s the norm. There is NO norm! Be inventive and impressive and you'll get far more attention than bland and boring.
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT SIMILAR SUBJECTS? I HOLD REGULAR WORKSHOPS ON MY FLOATING HQ IN LONDON, INCLUDING ADVENTURE PLANNING, SOCIAL MEDIA AND FILMING MASTERCLASSES. FIND OUT MORE
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