It all started yesterday, when Lovin Belfast – a Facebook page run by Visit Belfast – posted a status update announcing the return of the Belfast Continental Market this weekend.
The post, now edited, had stated that the Market would be at City Hall from 16 – 19 May. This ran counter to the Visit Belfast blog page that the status update linked to, which listed that the market was starting on 15 May instead.
I and a few others commented on the post asking for clarifications, to which Lovin Belfast confirmed that the dates were indeed 15 – 19 May, and that the change was due to organisers adding an extra day.
Well, it is a face-saving method of correcting the error, but I know that the reason given is not true, having actually marked out the actual dates on my calendar last month based on listings I’d seen in a bi-monthly newsletter.
I usually wouldn’t be this bothered by such mix-ups, but the inconsistent dates coupled with a write-up riddled with typing errors on the official Belfast tourism site were just too much to bear. I do admit to holding governments – and tourism promotion organisations especially – to higher PR standards than others, but I have no qualms in being pernickety when the image of a country or a city is affected by such details.
That said, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this rant if not for today’s discovery about the screening of Hayao Miyazaki’s newest – and probably final – film, The Wind Rises.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing this film for months now, and since last week the internet has been periodically reminding me that the film is now released in the UK, to my consternation as none of the cinemas in Belfast – not Odeon, not Odyssey, not Movie House and not Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT) – have the film included in their listings.
In a fit of annoyance, I googled “The Wind Rises Belfast” – and lo and behold, up came a res
ult stating that the film will actually be screened at QFT from 30 May. I did a double take, checked the QFT website again and confirmed that The Wind Rises definitely wasn’t listed.
Why? Why would anyone screen a film by one of the most renowned animators and not want to advertise it? Especially if, as QFT stated below, the film will be EXCLUSIVE to their venue? Aren’t “exclusive” showcases the marketing equivalent of having scored a big coup? And if that’s not enough, surely the shorter the screening period the less time there is to make money from audiences – and one miserable week sounds pretty short to me.
Or perhaps QFT assumed that because it’s a Miyazaki film, a good turnout is guaranteed and they wouldn’t need to put in effort to promote the screening. The lack of publicity and short lead times in promoting events here have previously gotten my goat on multiple occasions. Informing potential audiences of an event this weekend during the week is sorely inadequate – I couldn’t be further from being a happening person but even I tend to have an idea of what I’m doing next weekend a week in advance!
Ironically, it’s often the big events by large organisations – i.e. those that people look out for or can’t miss hence don’t actually need to publicise as much – that best have their PR/marketing act together. The Lego exhibition starting this Saturday at the Titanic Museum is a great example, with periodic tweets starting a few months ago, posters around town and ads on the side of buses.
While most organisers don’t have the budget to engage in physical advertising, social media is free and should be harnessed to its fullest – there’s no excuse to not publicise. Just remember to proofread posts first!