Zonker has requested I send a post to the group on this topic.
In our openSUSE marketing meeting today, we discussed ways to use "Guerilla Marketing" to help spread the word about the release of openSUSE 11.1 beta and final release parties.
As a non-profit organization, it should be fairly easy to find and utilize local media outlets to reach the most amount of people for the smallest cost possible. Having worked in radio for almost five years, I know that it is much easier to get a local radio station, news paper, television station, or other media venue to help promote your event or information as a non-profit group than it is as a business. Many of these media businesses realize that helping local non-profit events can help them in turn by promoting their own image as a team player in the community. It is similar to Novell's monetary support of an open-source community (before anyone comments, I know it's not the *only* reason Novell contributes, just one benefit for the company).
Some of the potential media venues include-
+ Local newspapers often have a section dedicated to local events for small to no cost. + Local radio stations (non-syndicated) are generally happy to be involved with the community and to give a free mention or two for non-profit organization events. As a previous producer of a morning show, if someone contacted me with a topic that I thought would be interesting to my general audience, I was more than happy to have them on the show for 20 minutes, or sometimes longer. I once had a one-time guest that quickly became a weekly contributor based on positive response to his original participation. + Local television stations often have small announcements on local stories of interest. Approaching them can sometimes be more difficult than print or radio media, but it can still be done. + Classified ads, such as Craigs List, are also a great on-and-offline way to advertise. Some of these charge a small fee to run an ad or a week or a certain number of issues, but are fairly easy to get in contact with and use.
There are many other potential venues out there, including university newspapers, newsgroups, blogs, message boards, and social networking sites. Remember when approaching these various sources that you are asking them for the favor, and the worst that can happen is that they say "no." You are more likely to get a positive response if you are prepared with all of the information, you are polite, and you make certain to let them know how much you appreciate their help. Consider how you word your approach carefully. Telling them that you have information on "openSUSE beta 11.1" might not get you very far, but catching their attention with "Reducing computer costs with free, stable software" or "Breaking Free of Windows" are something that appeal to a wider audience.
One last consideration - often in these free venues, your time or text space is limited, so for best results, keep it to the most important details. A fun (truthful) headline with contact information (a website, phone number, or e-mail) are your top priority. Including "openSUSE" to attract those who might have heard of it is a second. An example:
"If you hate Windows viruses but don't want to pay a lot for a Mac, contact our non-profit group for a free operating system demonstration - firstname.lastname@example.org."
Again, much of this will be determined by your own local customs and regulations, but clear contact information will always be your biggest asset.
I hope this helps somewhat.
-Chris Coray (cap_pickle)