Editor’s Note: PR Fetish – Promoting Kink and Bears

Editor's NoteOne thing running a fetish site will teach you is that people are active. REALLY active. Active to the point where that it’s now important for organizers to start thinking about how to promote.

Traditionally, the kink community has avoided any kind of media attention. The crisis created when WDIV in Detroit almost exposed members of Deviations a year ago is an example of why. But times are changing a bit. We may not necessarily want to get on to OWN or CNN, but we do have our own thriving and growing media. And they are there to be used by you.

Kink media now include online publications, magazines, newspapers, social media, podcasts and web video. The same technology that has had many worrying about the decline of organizations can be utilized to help them and strengthen the community.

Let’s start out with the basics. Press releases. Yes, very old school, but still effective and necessary. Sure posts on Facebook and FetLife are great, but they rely on luck and willingness for people to participate. Unless you’ve been posting events like this for a while and people know to look for you, it’s very easy to get lost in the shuffle. Only 10 percent of your followers will see posts made, unless you pay extra, on Facebook. And FetLife is simply set up differently. Viral distribution is simply much slower. Hence the press release.

Releases should be written like a news story. Just follow a simple formula: Who, What, Where, When and Why. Who’s holding the event, what the event is, where it is, when it is and why it’s being held. That’s all you really need. The more details you can add and quotes, the better. Maybe some graphics as well. But all you really need is the basic information.

And as for where to send it, the list is actually growing. Here’s a list of different publications with coverage areas and focus. This is by NO means an exhaustive list and I encourage readers to add others in the comments. But it is a good starting point. And yes, I’m starting with my own publication. Because I can.

Media Web   Address Area Focus
The Chicago Den www.chicagoden.net Midwest Community events,   news, gay, pansexual, bears, leather
Chicago Pervert www.chicagopervert.com Chicago Fiction,   photography, local events, pansexual
Ruff Stuff’s Blog ruffsstuffblog.blogspot.com Chicago, some   national Rubber,   photography, gear, gay
Louisville Fringe   Elements www.louisvillefringe.com Louisville and   Kentuckiana Community events,   pansexual, opinion
Leatherati www.leatherati.com National Events, news,   interviews, gay, pansexual, leather
MadisonKink www.madisonkink.com Madison, Wisc. Lifestyle   magazine, local events, pansexual
Sunny Megatron www.sunnymegatron.com Chicago Sex- and   BDSM-positive blogger and educator, pansexual
Clarisse Thorn www.clarissethorn.com Chicago Sex- and   BDSM-positive blogger and educator, pansexual
The Leather   Journal www.theleatherjournal.com National Events and   contests, news, gay, pansexual, leather
Late Night   Lavender latenightlavender.blogspot.com New York Gay, bears,   leather, interviews
The Urban Bear www.theurbanbear.com New York Gay, bears,   lifestyle magazine
Bear World   Magazine www.bearworldmagazine.com National Gay, bears
TSRNetwork www.tsrnetwork.com National Fetish, web TV,   interviews, pansexual


This is by no means a complete list. It doesn’t include the list of podcasts and web radio shows that are also available. This, however, will give you a starting point for sending out calendar notices and press releases.

Be sure to pick the best ones to contact. For example, I wouldn’t really be interested in a leather contest in Portland, Ore. Nothing against them, but that’s not an area where there’s enough cross traffic or readers for me to be concerned with, unlike events in Indianapolis or Columbus, Ohio. But it would be of interest to Leatherati or The Leather Journal. Bear World and the Urban Bear may not be interested in pansexual fetish play party in Indianapolis that would be good for Louisville Fringe, Chicago Pervert or the Den. A couple minutes of research can save a lot of wasted effort.

When you do use Facebook and Fetlife event pages, include all the information that you have in the press release. Putting the full info in both a release to media and in social media postings lets you catch anyone who only relies on one form of media. And particular to Facebook, make sure that the event can be shared to both timelines and pages. A lot of the outlets use social media as a quick and easy newswire to let people know of events and new content.

Then there’s timing. A good rule of thumb is the bigger the event, the earlier you start. Events like IML, MAL and Folsom start their media plans within a couple of weeks of the last event. Those are also huge events that bring in literally thousands of people. For a good sized regional event like Great Lakes Leather Weekend, SECC or Northwest Leather, six to nine months is a good start. Start with the basic info as soon as you have it. Then as time goes on, send out notices with more details and information. Let’s use GLLA as an example. Their event takes place in August. In January, they started sending out notices that registration for the next year was open. In February, they sent out an open call for bootblacks to enter the competition. In the coming months they’ll be sending out notices on the end of early bird registration, announcements of judges for the contest, information on keynote speaker, etc. Each notice offers new information, reinforces past information and keeps interest up.

Of course, if you’re just organizing a munch in Toledo, you don’t need that much lead time. In that case, sending out announcements two weeks to two months out is good, depending on how often the event repeats and how spread out your local community is. With Chicago’s dense population of kinksters, a couple weeks is usually good. For a more rural area like central Illinois where people may need to travel for an hour, it’s good to give people more time to plan. And if you do have monthly events, go ahead and send out a notice for each event. Topics change each time and you always have a chance of catching someone who missed a past notice.

If you did a fundraiser, make a point to announce the totals as soon as you can. It shows that fundraising process is transparent and lets people know that the money they gave counted for something. But don’t wait months to do it. By then the news is old and there won’t be as much interest. You don’t have to go into intricate detail, just be sure you get the most important information out.

This advice is meant for anyone trying to promote in the community. Club officers, titleholders, fundraisers, munch organizers, anyone. The bear and fetish communities are at a point of opportunity right now. Technology has created an opportunity to have our own media and interest in bears, leather and kink are at a high. We have an opportunity to reach out and bring in new people on our terms. But you have to do the reaching out and use the resources that have become available.

Ruff Wray is the publisher and founder of Great Lakes Den. He lives in Chicago with his husband Jeff. He can be contacted at editor@greatlakesden.net