Ever since I was a little girl, community has been important to me.  Growing up on a street that at one time had over 50 kids to play with, I learned at an early age that getting to know your neighbors was an important part of how to build a safe and inviting community.  I have carried this bit of knowledge with me throughout my life and career as a publicist.  With each and every client, I am always trying to figure out how to help them build community and expand awareness of their business.  Helping clients determine how to best connect with their clients, resources, neighbors, and community members has yielded powerful dividends both in terms of generating media exposure and driving sales.  
Events provide a perfect opportunity to connect to your local community. Since I’ve coordinated many events for both clients and on a volunteer basis, I thought it would be helpful to outline some of the key points that can mean the difference between success and failure. 
Know your audience. The first step in planning any event is to decide who your core audience is and how to best reach that group. A good way to identify your audience is to ask who might benefit most from the event. For example, consider a walk/run fundraiser for a local animal shelter. The ideal audience would not only include animal lovers, but fitness enthusiasts as well. So, to draw that crowd, you might consider partnering with a neighborhood gym or local running clubs. 
Several years ago, I helped launch the Lower Highland Annual 4th of July Parade and Family Picnic. We knew drawing families was going to be crucial, so we targeted an influential mommies group who we knew would spread the word about the event. The strategy worked and the parade is now a neighborhood tradition that draws hundreds. 
Market widely. Depending on just one communication channel to promote your event can lead to low attendance. I utilize a variety of methods to get the word out – from social media postings to calendar listings in local event sites to pitching stories to media in advance of the event. This past summer, I helped organize the 50th anniversary of the West Powers Avenue Block Party – a reunion of a gathering that has been happening since my childhood. I knew tracking down all my old neighborhood pals would be a challenge, so I started with Facebook by creating a private page for former neighbors.  For the folks who weren’t on social media, I created a flyer that I mailed out, using addresses collected from the older generation of attendees.  It was amazing how many we found using both of these methods.

Increase your odds of success. Another way to guarantee good attendance is to recruit a club or organization with many members and a natural interest in the event. Cub Scout and Girl Scout troops are a natural fit for kids-focused events. Youth sports teams and neighborhood associations are also good options. For the 4th of July parade, I recruited the local junior roller derby team to participate. Their costumes and skills provided a great visual for the parade and the team got great exposure from the event, using it to pass out information about upcoming bouts. 
Enlisting local businesses can also be a good way to attract crowds because those merchants will help promote the event to their customers. They can also serve as a good source of financial support. This year, I helped raise over $6,000 in just two days for the parade, thanks to the generosity of the Lower Highland Merchant Group, which I helped co-found in 2011.
Make it fun. Of course, your event won’t be judged by attendance alone, but by the experience you deliver. One way to do that is create an activity or task that will immediately get your guests engaged in the event. For the 50th reunion, we played the “Who Am I” game, which involves putting the name of a “famous” person on each person’s back and having each individual guess the name on their tag.  Since it had been a long time since we had seen each other, this ice breaker was a huge help. I think it is important to do this at most events. It’s fun, and gets people talking.
Publicize your event. Even though I was one of those neighborhood kids attending the 50th Anniversary of the block party, I put my “publicist” hat on to make sure the media knew that this was a special event and one not to miss!  You can read about it here in the Littleton Independent
I also used my skills to gather coverage of the 4th of July Parade, which was highlighted in The North Denver Tribune.

If you don’t have the money to hire a publicist or you don’t have one volunteering for your event, there are other ways to gain exposure. The Denver Post’s YourHub section provides a lot of community coverage. I also suggest researching who to contact at your local paper since those publications play a key role in informing the community about what’s happening. Submitting your event to one of the local lifestyle magazines, such as 5280 or 303 Magazine is also a good strategy to attract attention. 

Congratulations to LoHi SteakBar, which captured the top prize in the LoHi Merchants Group Third Annual Wreath Contest. We’re not sure how they did it, but the folks at LoHi SteakBar managed to weave together a ton of french fries to form a festive wreath. Though the shellac used to keep the fries intact made the wreath inedible, the judges gave LoHi SteakBar props for actually incorporating food into its holiday decor. The restaurant now “owns” the contest trophy for the next 12 months.

This year’s runners up included: Laughing Latte, which won the contest in its first year, the realty firm Trelora, Jezebel’s Southern Bistro and Bar, which highlighted it’s New Orleans roots in its wreath and Bob Bell at Mile High Property, who recycled license plates in a creative way. Check out a few of the entries below.

We were lucky to attract a diverse group of judges this year, which included 9News Traffic Reporter Amelia Earhart, Westword Editor Patty Calhoun, Jordan Jacobs from Outfront Colorado and Laurie Dunklee, a writer with the North Denver Tribune. We were also pleased to see the increased interest in this year’s contest, with twice as many LoHi businesses participating compared to 2012. If you’d like to read more about the wreath contest, check out Westword’s coverage of the competition here  or the North Denver Tribune’s article here.

Happy New Year to all our LoHi neighbors!

Little Man Ice Cream attracted a record turn-out for its 4th Annual Hula Hooping Contest September 8th. This year’s contest, held at Highland’s Hirshorn Park, featured Denver elementary school students battling by age group in a variety of categories. Lucky winners walked away with passes to Elitch Gardens and the Downtown Aquarium as well as tickets to Justin Timberlake’s upcoming concert at the Pepsi Center and free ice cream for a year!

The goal was to get the kids moving on a hot day and encourage exercise at a time when physical activity among children is on the decline. (Less than half of Colorado school children ages 5 to 14 get the federally recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day, according to data from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment). Proceeds from the event’s $5 application fee benefited physical education programs at Denver’s Brown, Edison, Sandoval and Valdez Elementary schools and North High School.  We’re excited to share that $875 was raised for the schools through the event.

The media also took note of Little Man’s unique effort to get the masses moving. The contest was featured as one of 5280’s Best Picks, in the North Denver Tribune, and YourHub, as well as on Fox31 and 9News’ weekend broadcast. You can watch a clip of young hoopers showing off their skills, here.

The response to the event was so strong, we can’t wait to see the how many kids turn out next year. Until then, enjoy these photos from the competition.

You may be surprised to find out that one of the metro-area’s newest brewpubs is located in Wheat Ridge, not LoDo, and that Denver’s northern neighbor is also home to one of the region’s premiere bike shops. Once a sleepy suburb, Wheat Ridge is now becoming a hub for unique businesses, 
thanks to a slew of economic development efforts.

Teller Street Gallery & Studios, one of Wheat Ridge’s new businesses.

Using a combination of tax rebates, grants and loans, Wheat Ridge has attracted a net 35 new businesses since 2011. The Stasko Agency began working with the city this past spring, helping to shine the light on Wheat Ridge’s  “open for business” agenda and its efforts to revitalize a stretch of 38th Avenue from Wadsworth Boulevard to Sheridan Boulevard.

Right Coast Pizza opened on Wheat Ridge’s “main street” in 2012.

We’re pleased to say that media outlets are starting to take note of Wheat Ridge’s initiatives. The Denver Business Journal highlighted the city’s business growth last month, while the Wheat Ridge Transcript examined the success the city has had in luring businesses from Denver. You can read that article here. The North Denver Tribune and the Colorado Real Estate Journal both turned the lens on Wheat Ridge’s revival on 38th Avenue, an area city officials have dubbed the “Ridge at 38.”

In addition to spurring business expansion through a slew of economic incentives, Wheat Ridge has also lured entrepreneurs by expanding community offerings. The list of programming includes cruiser crawls, a Wines and Dines event, an annual Wheat Fest to highlight the city’s agricultural roots and the Mid Century and Modern Home tour, which is slated for Saturday, September 7.

The interior of one of the homes that will be featured in this year’s Mid Century and Modern Home Tour

If you haven’t visited Wheat Ridge recently, we encourage you to make the trip. In the coming months, we’ll also be spreading the word about the city’s growing housing options. So, stay tuned for more updates!

Last month, a group of local media gathered at Cellar Wine Bar in Lower Highland to sample the venue’s impressive menu of newly crafted cocktails. Known as the Sake infusion series, the cocktails feature fresh fruits, herbs and other seasonal ingredients and are the brainchild of Erik Catelle, an award-winning mixologist who recently joined Cellar’s staff.

We were excited to get feedback on the new concoctions from our media panel, who agreed to rate their favorites from a field of six contenders. The judges included: Margaret Jackson and Penny Parker of the Denver Post; North Denver Tribune Editor Elisa Cohen and writer Basha Cohen; Downtown Denver News Publisher Samantha Martel, Wine Spectator Writer Jayne Russell, Denver By the Slice blogger David Huntress and his wife, photographer Diane Huntress and Piper Vitale of Colorado Expression. Here’s a look at the lovely Natsu Kyurri – a summertime spritzer cocktail with muddled cucumber, a ginger basil infused simple syrup, Sake and a splash of soda served on the rocks.

The Natsu Kyurri looked pretty, but the Lychee Colada – a fruity blend of fresh-muddled lychee, coconut milk, fresh squeezed lime, Sake and a dash of soda – proved most popular. Coming in a close second was the cleverly named Sake Tini, a modern take on the martini which mixes Sake, vermouth, olive juice and star fruit. Third place went to the simple yet sophisticated Blooming Champagne, a beautiful pink drink featuring hibiscus flower, champagne and bitters. Thanks to our judges for serving as a taste testers. Here they are hard at work.

The three media faves are now fixtures on Cellar’s menu. True to its name, the bar also offers more than 40 wines by the glass. If you’d like to sample some of their selection, consider attending Cellar’s next wine tasting on September 7th. The event, which showcases Infinite Monkey Theorem’s wines, will run from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. You can find more information about the tasting here.