PRCA The Official Membership Site of The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Procom: (800) 234-7722
Member Records: (719) 528-4747
Main Number: (719) 593-8840
   Contact Us

PublicityRodeo Publicity

Publicity is nothing more than placing your event in front of the public. Good publicity creates goodwill for your rodeo and your committee, and that usually equates to good gate receipts. But of the three concepts discussed in this section – public relations, advertising and publicity – publicity is, without a doubt, the toughest to achieve. Once you achieve it, it pays. But you have to work at it and the following guidelines are designed to help.

  1. Publicity doesn't just happen
    Do not expect the publicity to roll in just because you have announced your event.
    1. In addition to writing press releases and making phone calls, be sure that someone personally contacts the appropriate media representatives and explains all the important details.
    2. When media representatives need information, get it to them as quickly as possible. If they need to interview someone, make sure it happens.
    3. Since rodeo often is a once-a-year project, media personnel are not as up to speed about it as you are. Prepare information in advance and deliver it to the media. Fact sheets on your event that includes some history, who will be competing and a schedule of events are key.
    4. Don't be shy about approaching newspaper publishers or the general managers of your local television stations. Without your help, those people cannot inform their readers and viewers.
  2. Understand who does what
    1. Reporters cover news and events in their communities. They ARE NOT obligated to cover your rodeo, or to cover it the way YOU think it ought to be handled. But with your help they will get the information or feature ideas they need to provide you the type of coverage you desire.
    2. Advertising representatives are salesmen or women. If they sell you a service, you ARE entitled to put into that ad space any legitimate information you want.
    3. Although a reporter and ad salesman or woman might work for the same company, they provide two distinctive services. Nothing turns a reporter off more than someone holding advertising over his head. Work with both, you need them – generally more than they need you.
  3. Publicity isn't advertising
    1. As stated above, you pay for advertising, publicity is free.
    2. Advertising provides the basic who, what, when, where and how much type of information to the public.
    3. Publicity expands on basic information, focusing on details about your rodeo and stories on those involved.
    4. Develop a strategy that enables your advertising and publicity to work harmoniously to fill your grandstands.
  4. Nobody owes you free publicity
    1. Your local newspapers, radio stations and television stations do not owe you free publicity. They are, however, more than glad to accept your advertising dollars.
    2. News editors are happy to cover legitimate events in their communities. It is up to you to convince them that the rodeo is of vital community interest.
    3. It is most important that you get the free coverage you need. Without it, your advertising costs will increase and your gate receipts will suffer.

Develop a publicity plan and stick to it
It is important to treat your publicity plan as you might treat a departmental project within a major corporation. Through in-depth planning well in advance of your rodeo, you need to decide how to obtain free publicity and how much money you will spend on advertising. The next step is to create a timetable and stick to it.

  1. Strategies for determining how to divide the work load
    1. Hire outside help – advertising agencies, PR firms and freelance publicists.
      * Outside help usually is for large rodeos with large budgets, in cities with 100,000 population or more.
      * Most outside agencies have invaluable media contacts and can produce press releases in the professional style news organizations use.
      * Most are adept at dealing with editors.
      * Publicity professionals are knowledgeable about the media business and employ standard operating procedures used within the profession.
      * They provide an outside point of view, remaining a bit more objective about the rodeo.
      * Personnel at advertising agencies are skilled primarily at producing advertising copy, not news copy. Be sure the agency you hire has people who can do both.
      * Public relations firms primarily handle publicity, not advertising, with emphasis on writing press releases. Again, be sure to select a firm that can handle all your needs.
      * Freelance publicists are often the least expensive of your three options. These individuals usually have fewer resources than complete firms. Be sure they can provide the service and professionalism you need. Look for someone with good writing skills, with the proper media contacts and who will work in the best interests of your event.
      * Another viable option, if there is a college in your town, is to contact either the journalism department or sports information department to see if any college students would be interested in doing an internship or a work-study program. Many students need real life experience and this would be a great way for them to get experience at a low cost to the committee.
    2. Hire a full-time publicity person to work for the committee.
      * This is best for rodeos with year-round staffs.
      * This also works best for rodeos produced by volunteer committees, chambers of commerce, fraternal or benevolent organizations.
      * Like the freelance publicist, this person needs to be an experienced media professional with all the necessary contacts and writing, editing and organizing skills necessary to pull off a successful campaign.
    3. Create volunteer committees.
      * This method is best for rodeos with limited budgets.
      * There are three roles – a publicity chairman, publicity assistants and the staff.
      * The chairman works like everybody else. He also should be someone accustomed to handling authority, should have experience working with the media and publicity procedures, and should be willing to put in long, hard hours.
      * The chairman should select at least three good assistants – two capable of writing well and dealing with the press, the third detail-oriented and geared toward making sure everything is covered.
      * The staff should be composed of individuals who volunteer their time performing the specific tasks required by the chairman and the assistants.
  2. Developing a budget
    1. he following factors are significant to your budget.
      * A large rodeo in a small town will have to draw its audience from a large regional area.
      * Many towns do not have television stations, are limited to one or two radio stations and usually only one newspaper. Identify what you have and spend accordingly.
      * Your local newspaper might not reach all of your target audience. You might need to be in touch with several newspapers serving the communities around yours.
      * Large rodeos obviously have more money to spend than smaller ones. Identify how much you believe your rodeo will earn, then spend accordingly.

Budget Checklist

Item Amount Budgeted Amount SPENT
1. Paid advertising    
2. Fees or salaries    
3. Photographs    
4. Secretarial costs    
5. Supplies    
6. Copying    
7. Delivery service    
8. Clip service    
9. Postage    
10. Telephones    
11. Entertainment    
12. Press credentials/facilities    
13. Travel    
14. Miscellaneous    
15. Brochures    
16. Posters