How to put together an event in less than 3 weeks with no money

We were looking for ways to bring together Startup Chile entrepreneurs and Chilean developers when the idea of HackSantiago came up. Hackatons are always a good opportunity to experiment with different technologies and start new projects and we thought that would be a great way to connect local developers to an international network.

Cool… But how to bring all this people together?

Ok, so:

1. I don’t know a lot of developers in Chile
2. I don’t really know where this people are
3. I have no idea wich are the the media channels around here and
4. I don’t even speak Spanish

This means it would me a very bad idea jumping into this project to be in charge of PR/Social Media, right?

challenge accepted

I decided to do it anyway, so I had to put a express marketing plan together. Something that wouldn’t take too much time, could get some local publicity, help us reach our target audience and, of course, completely free.

Step 1 – Work with a sample of your target audience

Find someone that fits your target audience. We found Nelson. He is a developer, he is young and hungry and loves hacking. Culture is complex and if you don’t understand your target audience culture, you will not get them to cope with you.

Culture is complex

Nelson brought some really good insights: Not all developers in Chile speaks English fluently, not all them are active on Facebook, some of them are on Twitter. And this is how we finally dropped the crazy (but comfortable) idea of starting our campaign in English…

Step 2 – Take over the internet

Register your domain and take over the social networks. Everyone of them regardless of using it in your marketing strategy or not. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr… You may not use it now, but save them for tomorrow. You never know…

Step 3 – Tell people you need help

You’re not a superhero, keep it simple. You need help? Ask for help.

Startup Chile, Huevapi, QueHambre and AndesBeat helped us reach important tech news channels like FayerWayer and other popular tech Meetups in Santiago.

About Press releases

If you’re not a professional copywriter, again, keep it simple. Say exactly what you want say in a couple of paragraphs and leave the rest for a Q&A in the end of it. You can update your Q&A according to questions you get from journalists and bloggers. And please: Don’t freaking put together some lame PDF and mail it to people. Plain text is fine, is search friendly and people can copy & paste it. You can even personalize it a little bit to every single person you send it to.

Step 4 – Pitch ALL channels

Don’t know how to find them? Here’s my tip: Check the big fish twitter acoount Klout Style. They always bring some other accounts with the same style and reach to the grid.

grid klout

Again: Pitch ALL channels. Of course you will try to score high but there’s no such a thing as a blog/twitter too small. Email/mention all of them.

Step 5 – Love and respect your audience

Don’t try to brainwash the with your message. Do your homework and find out what they like. Talk about what they are talking about, answer their questions, act like a real person and not a bot. This does not mean you have to twit “Good morning!” every morning. Everybody knows is scheduled, people are not stupid. Be relevant. Use elements they recognize and relate to.

hacksantiago write all the code

Step 6 – Blog everything

I already talked about how good blogs are to help you publish your news and keep track of all the press you’re getting. Everything will be archived there. It’s good SEO, just do it.

By this time we already had 25% more people signed up than our venue would allow us to have. Not a problem: You can always count on a 20% NO SHOW rate.

I win

In the next post I will talk about engaging people during a live event using social media, so… Come back :)