Publicity Ideas for Student Organizations

students sitting on floor making postersPublicity is very important to any organization. Good publicity allows organizations to attract new members, raise money and awareness, announce programs and services, and educate the community. Therefore, for your organization's publicity to bring results, careful and thorough planning should be put into your campaign. Start early!

The most effective publicity allows the reader to quickly grasp all the important facts of the program while being creative and eye-catching at the same time. Promotional materials should be clearly printed with a message designed to evoke a response from the viewer. It is more important for your message to be clear and understandable than for your items of publicity to be extremely artistic.

Things to consider before you begin a publicity campaign:

  • Budget - Determine how much you can realistically spend on publicity.
  • Audience - Who do you want to reach and how? Is there a pre-selected market available? Take into account age groups, audiences' likes and dislikes, career fields, etc. Publicizing something for professors or non-students may be entirely different than publicizing an event for students.
  • Information - Make sure that your publicity materials contain all of the important information. Publicize the aspect of your program that is most familiar to the audience. Make sure you include correct names and logos of any co-sponsors.
  • Resources - What are your resources? Are people in your groups skilled at art, design, and/or computers? Make sure everyone understands that publicizing the program is just as critical as planning it. Student Life and Leadership (Student Services West, room 1661) has free butcher paper and markers for use by recognized student organizations.
  • Schedule - Before you can publicize your event, you must go through the Event Approval Form (EAF) process and have your event approved through Student Life and Leadership. What deadlines must be met? Advertising for the event should start 2-3 weeks before the event, but not any earlier because people may forget about your event when it actually happens. Or, they will become used to seeing your publicity
  • Location - Posters/flyers can be posted on the bulletin board adjacent to the Food Court in the Aztec Center Walkway. Banners can be hung in the Aztec Center Walkway, with approval. Signs in holders can be placed in the Aztec Center Walkway using provided holders on a first-come first served basis. Handbills and flyers can be distributed in open areas of the campus provided pedestrian and vehicular traffic and building access are not obstructed. Posting large signs and banners is permitted only on the retaining wall at Aztec Center Food Court around the dining area just east of the Administration Building and extending to the southwest corner of the front of the building. See the SDSU Student Organizations Handbook for the complete publicity policy.

Essential items to include in all publicity

  • Name of attraction or event
  • Date of event
  • Time: beginning and ending
  • Location of event
  • Admission price (even if it's free)
  • Deadline for applying (if applicable)
  • Contact information of the sponsoring organization
  • Any co-sponsoring organization names

A few other suggestions:

  • Always use spell check.
  • When using a computer to make publicity, SAVE your work frequently.
  • Use a variety of colors and shapes.
  • Balance light and dark space.
  • Using all capital letters is very hard to read from long distances.
  • Adding "Attendees who wish special accommodations due to a disability may contact "___"can be helpful for certain events.

Your organization has invested a lot of time and energy into sponsoring an upcoming event. Now the only question is, "Will they come?" With so many things happening on campus, how will the publicity for your event stand out from all the others?


Information must be truthful, attractive, easily understood, tasteful and informative.

  • Word of Mouth: Personal solicitation and personal endorsement are the best and most effective ways to promote activities. Announce the event at your weekly meetings.
  • One of the most important decisions you will make about publicity involves color. To get the most "bang for your buck", use positive color combinations: Blue on Orange, Orange on Blue, Purple on Yellow, Black on Orange and Green on White. All of your publicity can benefit from the use of color. Just remember these simple rules: Use basic colors for lettering-they are easier to read. Avoid using red in limited light. Avoid using more than three colors on one poster.
  • Daily Aztec: Advertise or have an article written about your event.
  • Tabling at Aztec Center.
  • Student Organization mailboxes.
  • Balloons: Need a last minute reminder about your event? Advertise on balloons on the day of your program.
  • Fortune Cookies: Hand out fortune cookies with your organization's event information printed as the fortune. There are many companies that sell fortune cookies with your personalized message for a very reasonable cost.
  • Lollipop Lingo: Hand out lollipops with an event message attached.
  • Costumes: If your upcoming event has a theme, rent costumes that go with it and have organizational members wear them while handing out event information.
  • Body Painting: Enough said!
  • Unusually shaped posters: Different shapes will draw more attention than the typical square or rectangular poster.
  • Skits/preview of program in Open Space (reserve Open Space in Student Services West, room 1661, at least 2 weeks in advance)
  • Stickers

Here are some reasons why publicity fails

  • It's not eye catching enough - It doesn't stand out amongst everything else that's out there.
  • There's not enough of it - Maybe the publicity looked good, but there is so little of it around campus that many will never learn of the event.
  • It's not creative or informative - It looks like everything else that's already out there and/or doesn't include enough information to inform students about what the event actually is.
  • It's too cluttered - No one wants to take the time to read it.

After your event

  • Clean up publicity around campus.
  • Write a recap of what items worked/didn't work in your organization's binder.

Have fun with your publicity! It's the little extras that make a BIG DIFFERENCE.

Here's to a great year with highly attended events!