The major comic conventions already sell out of tickets months in advance. But for the rest of the shows out there it is still important to find ways to get publicity, promote an event and sell tickets. Especially if that publicity reaches people beyond those that are already connected to cons.
The recently completed Boston Comic Con had just such an event, and we wanted to share it, not just because it was a great way to get publicity, but also a great thing to do in the community. Our hope is that other comic convention promoters and owners will consider doing something similar.
In this case it was a group of cosplayers visiting children at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Boston.
A family member of one of the kids at the rehab center initially reached out to a local TV station WBZ about the possibility of having one of the con’s celebrity guests visit. The station reached out to the PR person for Boston Comic Con, Ann Murphy of O’Neill and Associates. It was determined that getting one of the celebrity guests was going to be unlikely, but Ms. Murphy instead suggested that a group of cosplayers come and visit. Once that became the direction, it was a matter of getting the cosplayers on board.
For that Ms. Murphy turned to Pat Covey, the costume event/party organizer for the Boston Comic Con, and who is also part of a group called “Boston Super Heroes”, which does charity events and appearances throughout New England. Pat has also coordinated cosplay/costume events at cons in New England for years, and because of that already had a group of potential heroes who could make the visit. He reached out to line up the cosplayers and they scheduled the visit.
The visit accomplished the intended dual goals of both putting smiles on the faces of the kids, as well as also getting publicity for the Boston Comic Con. The story was covered by WBZ, the CBS affiliate in Boston. As of the publication of this story, the video clip of this visit on WBZ’s Facebook page had nearly 54,000 views.
While this event was initiated by a family member of a patient, a convention promoter (or their PR people) could be proactive and reach out to the communications department of a local hospital to see if they would like a visit. (All hospitals have communications departments.) Obviously, it would be important to keep in mind who the audience is for this type of event. It would probably not be the best idea for scary zombies to make the visit.
We also asked Mr. Covey what he would do differently if he were doing it again. “If I were to do anything differently, it’d be probably to bring even more heroes. We had a small group attend but if need be, I could get over a hundred. They were there for a couple of hours, meeting and taking pictures with the different kids there.” Also in the future, they would probably work with vendors to provide comics and toys.
This is a win/win. Putting a smile on the face of a sick child while at the same time promoting an upcoming con to an audience that may not already be tuned into comic conventions and culture.
If you are a con promoter and try something similar please let us know. If you have other promotional activities you think other cons would be interested in, let us know about that too!