IGEM Outreach:Tips and Tricks to Have a Successful Outreach Event

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Tips and Tricks to Have a Successful Outreach Event

  • Initiated by the Waterloo iGEM 2012 Team

Introduction

We realize that organizing an Outreach event can be difficult- it's a learning experience for everyone. This year we thought that we should create a guide that outlines basic things to look out for when organizing such an event and share them with the rest of the community.

Feel free to contact us with any questions at: uwigem.outreach.hp@gmail.com , we'd love to hear your thoughts.

General Tips

•Sign contracts with external parties who have made promises to attend or are involved in the event itself

•Be shameless in your promotion of an event- if you think you are being over excessive, then you have been marketing the right amount. There is no such thing as “too much awareness”.

•Create a budget prior to event execution to make sure you have the resources you need and if you will have to seek extra funding. The earlier, the better

•Have a clear purpose for your event and why you are doing it, otherwise you may get lost in the planning and forget to have a crystal clear mission

•When organizing a larger outreach event, it is key to have a plan before you start

•The larger the event, the more planning is required

•When planning, scope what is out there to see if you could use low-cost, online tools already available to you: Crowd Funding (such as RocketHub, Indiegogo and Kickstarter), event organizational tools (EventBrite) or social media (Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, YouTube)

•Create a marketing strategy, promotions strategy and most importantly a communications plan. It may seem tedious at first, but believe it, once you have created it, it will make all the organizing and decisions that need to be made much easier.

•These formally developed plans will be key when approaching industry specialists and stakeholders within your university and externally, making them understand what exactly you want to do, your projections and what you’re expecting to gain. You can download a template of a standard Communications Plan along with an example of one we have created for our current event called “BioTalks” from the Community Bricks site under Lesson Plan, Resources

Why Outreach is Important and Why You Should Have an Outreach Lead

•Outreach is the delivery of your message, it helps others understand what you are doing and why you are doing it

•The key pillar surrounding outreach is education

•Since synthetic biology is a new advancing field within biotechnology, it is essential to deliver key messages in laymen’s terms to younger generations that can be influenced into pursuing careers in science. As well, to remove stigmas and inform the public to make educated decisions

•The potential for outreach is unlimited, it is only limited by your imagination. Resources will follow if you are persistent, learn from previous failures and are passionate about the cause

•Normally outreach is pushed on the back burner, but it should be used more as a tool to attract key talent, attract sponsors and network

•Therefore it is a full-time position within a team as it requires a collaborative effort amongst internal stakeholders within your university and potential external stakeholders depending on your activities •Design and wet lab are key, but it is difficult to excel in all components, therefore it is essential that in order to be successful in an all-rounded manner that outreach has its own position

Using Social Media to Promote, Promote, Promote

•Using social media such as WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and many others can prove to be an excellent way of getting your name and cause out to the general public as well as connect with others using an interface that our generation is very familiar with no matter what their background

•Create a metrics-based system- this will identify if what you’re marketing is actually getting out to your target audience. You can use a URL shortening site such as bitly.com when posting links onto Twitter or FaceBook. It will shorten your link but if you also simply add a “+” to the end of your bitly shortlink you can also look at the number of clicks you had. As well, record the date you posted and measure say, a week afterward for standardization purposes.

•It is a great way of promoting on-campus events by connecting with other accounts using that same social media platform which can exponentially increase your number of viewers with little to no cost to your team

Have more questions? Contact UWaterloo iGEM’s Outreach Team at: uwigem.outreach.hp@gmail.com