There are about a million Poles in Canada (one in every thirty people you meet), who have been contributing to Canadiana for about 150 years. My name gives it away – my family is Polish, we moved to southern Ontario from Germany in 1989, and count ourselves amongst that large Polish diaspora who moved to North America at that time.
Though until recently, I had never been too interested in supporting my Polish-Canadian heritage. So for some unknown reason, I decided to try my hand at media relations, for an event I’ve never attended.
Polish Day in Waterloo
I volunteered myself to be the Media Co-ordinator for Polish Day 2012, an event that runs every two years and sees a packed arena in Kitchener-Waterloo enjoying food, dance, art, and hopsy beer. Having never worked in media/marketing I thought it’d manageable: a couple of emails, phone calls, hand shakes, and all would be fine.
Boy was I wrong. Managing the media activity for an event like this was a challenge in patience and persistence. Making connections with newspapers, TV and radio stations proved … fickle, to use a better f-word.
I sent hundreds of emails to ask for in-kind sponsorship or deliver a press release, and got only several responses. Following up with those responses via phone during business hours proved to be the big difference, and if I were to do it all over again I’d spend my time doing phone calls and office visits instead.
As far as some personal “wins”:
- Raising money for the Grand River Hospital – Paedeatric Unit. I reached out to the hospital foundation and Sandra was super happy to work with us, which lent the whole event more street cred.
- $9,000 sponsorship offer from Rogers Radio (570 News, Kix 106, and CHYM FM) which included an awesome ad that they produced, and great airtime.
- Rogers TV appearance on Daytime, which was actually fun thanks to the hosts, Jay and Isabela.
- Great “event calendar” coverage. If you were looking for something to do in any event guide, Polish Day was there.
- Tweeted the living hell out of the event. Those pictures and tweets live on, well after the event is over.
The local newspapers, The Record and Chronicle, did run short pieces before the event, and proved to be very influential.
The Facebook event ended up being a driver of non-Polish attendees. If I were to do that all over again, I’d set up a Facebook Page before the Event, and take advantage of the ads and metrics Facebook has to offer.
All in all – an awesome professional experience. Media communication is nuanced, realistic campaign plans are key, focusing energy on influential media beats broadcasting to everyone.
I was happy to see my friends from Gzowski Club at Polish Day. Tomasz, Kacper, Paul, and myself started Gzowski Club in December 2010. The goal was to create a social club to help young adults party in the company of their Polish peers.
Three epic events later, I’m no longer part of the organizing committee. But the club is well established, has great T-Shirts, and is pretty unique amongst other Polish clubs for not having any sort of heritage angle: it’s fun, and purely for socializing.
I probably shouldn’t be associating with a bunch of young punks throwing sweet keggers to support their international love ambitions – but night life is synonymous with culture. These guys have done an excellent job encouraging young Poles and their friends to celebrate, and elevate the “cool factor” of that cultural association.
Now that’s a great feat: make Polish cool in your circle of influence.