Today’s audiences want, need, expect, and even crave to be part of the action.

And they don’t have to act like that tool who climbed on stage before the Broadway play “Hand to God” to charge his phone to get their experiential fix.

The Spokesman-Review dipped its institutional 135-year-old toes into the event pool earlier this year to please audience segments we already own with new and get-your-hands-on-it content. Those two audiences groups were 55+ readers and those who love them, and foodies young and old.

The Spokesman-Review has started holding events that appeal to its readers, including one based on Dorothy Dean, the face of the publication’s home economics department.
The Spokesman-Review has started holding events that appeal to its readers, including one based on Dorothy Dean, the face of the publication’s home economics department.

In April, we introduced the Active Living Expo, a one-day event held at Northern Quest Resort & Casino. We blended the lineup of presentations — from a local noted cardiologist and an elder law specialist to tales from a travel writer and a how-to yoga demonstration. Booth sponsors ranged from a formerly private golf club now open to public membership, to assisted living centres, to a local winery that provided tastings.

We charged only US$5 per attendee, and a portion of ticket sales supported Spokane Meals on Wheels. All told, we attracted 303 attendees, a healthy showing for our first year.

A short month later, on Mother’s Day weekend, we hosted the Dorothy Dean Home Cooking Show and partnered with our editorial team’s Northwest Passages Book Club. (From 1935 to 1983, Dorothy Dean was the face of The Spokesman-Review’s home economics department, which published recipes, operated a test kitchen, and fielded thousands of telephone calls from cooks. Each week we re-publish some classic recipes from S-R archives.)

The Dorothy Dean Home Cooking Show included cooking demonstrations.
The Dorothy Dean Home Cooking Show included cooking demonstrations.

The day-long event attracted 509 attendees. Again, a portion of ticket sales benefitted a local charity, the 2nd Harvest food bank. Locally owned grocer, Yoke’s Fresh Markets, signed on as title sponsor, and many inactive or never-ever advertisers purchased expo booths to sell locally brewed coffee, tasty caramels, Tupperware products, specialty knives, and more.

A live-cooking stage featured local chefs and food business owners. Concurrently, the Northwest Passage stage was home to presentations from “Top Chef” finalist and Spokane resident Chad White, “Pie and Whiskey — Writers Under the Influence of Butter and Booze” author and chef Kate Lebo, and other notable cooks and authors. Attendees could purchase books and meet the authors after the presentations. Editorial created a retro kitchen where attendees could pose for photos with Dorothy Dean herself, a local actress hired to portray the mythical keeper of kitchen secrets.

We’re already booking dates to repeat both events in 2019, and a majority of our sponsors have also signed on for next year.

So, jump right into the event pool to build or bolster audiences. And, as an added bonus to attendees, provide real outlets and charging stations for those umbilically attached to their phones.