I recently got my hands dirty planning a birth fair in my local community. BOY, was it a learning experience!! It went really well, but there were things that I'd definitely change if I could go back and do it again. Anyway, now that the event is behind me and I've had the opportunity to catch up on some sleep, I want to share some helpful tips.
1. Keep Things Lively
Between speakers, offer cool door prizes or have baby shower type games that will serve as fun brain breaks. We had tons of cool stuff donated by local and nationwide businesses. Moms love freebies, and handing them out helps to keep things moving. We also had "swag bags" full of coupons and samples that really got moms excited as they came through the door.
2. Be Seen and Heard
One mistake that I made was creating a Facebook event off of my business page. I think word would have traveled faster and the event would have been seen by more people if I had given the event its very own Facebook page. Also, when sharing a link on Facebook, it appears closer to the top of newsfeeds if there is a picture attached. So, if you have an event flyer, upload it as a photo and add the link to your event.
Go in person to local businesses (I suggest specialty mom/baby places) and ask to post flyers and/or post card type event announcements. We were able to have some of these items at a children’s consignment sale the week before our event which was great.
We offered bonus door prize entries if you shared the event with your Facebook friends. If you're giving out door prizes, post what you're giving away. People got really excited when we told them WHAT we'd be giving out at the event - breast pads, and ring slings, and massages, OH MY! (Man, I should have made that into a Meme for our event!)
3. The Importance of Timing
Consider breaking up your event into sessions that cover different topics throughout the day at designated times, or on different days. It’s easy for birth advocates to get a little long winded on issues that they are so passionate about. Everything they have to say is important and worth being listened to, but when there are several speakers, it may be difficult for pregnant mamas to sit for such a long period of time or go without essential potty breaks.
4. Don't Forget the Dads
For the most part, your crowd will consist of moms; however, some of them will want their hubby along. Encourage this! Consider special offers for bringing dad along. I wish we had done extra door prize entries for partner attendance and maybe even a really nice dad-inspired giveaway. We did invite a male chiropractor (and dad) to speak on the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy. His advocacy and spin on natural birth and was a crowd favorite! Plus, it's great for dads to hear information first hand - AND it can serve as a date!
5. Lighten the Load
Meet with other professionals who are interested in participating (doulas, midwives, lactation consultants, birth photographers, etc.) and designate chair persons for the areas of needed help. Though I did have assistance, I think in some ways I bit of a little more than I could chew. In hindsight, I wish I would have designated a chairman for areas such as food, marketing, door prizes, swag bags, set-up/clean up, etc. Don't allow yourself to think that other advocates will only want to be part of the event if you do all of the work - they WANT to help you - USE THEM!
Birth empowerment is quickly gaining steam and I believe that awareness events are a great way to pass on our messages to our local communities. If you're planning an event, I hope these tips can help you make it enjoyable and effective!