Using tactics, tricks and gimmicks will always get you noticed. Again, it should be appropriate for what you’re trying to achieve.
If there is a newsworthy event happening nearby and it’s going to be featured on the local news bulletin, if the bells are ringing as the piece is being recorded or going out on air, then whoever tunes into that news bulletin will hear your bells. Here’s an example: a band were asked to ring for the memorial service of a well-known footballer. Hundreds of football fans turned up, celebrities, famous footballers and football managers and so on were all being interviewed in the grounds before the service. The band had been asked to ring (and were paid a tidy sum for doing so) and throughout the piece that was broadcast on local BBC television, the bells were ringing in the background. Although it wasn’t a recruitment or fund-raising exercise, it was commented on by the reporter. Sometimes it’s just about being heard.
You can use a multitude of props when talking about bell ringing, from ropes, to mini bells, handbells, complete mini ring installations, bits of bell fittings and so on. If you are giving a talk to a specific interest group, make sure that you take along appropriate props that would interest that particular group. Put the spotlight on a particular prop and talk about it in a way that that group of people become fascinated by what it is, how it works and where it fits in to the rest of it.
Staging contests is a bit trickier although one idea could be to have our tenor bell down and challenge the adults to make it chime without letting their feet lift off the floor. A diminutive ringer could demonstrated that it could be done first. A smaller bell could be used for the children to have a go with as well. It gets people very engaged and competition between siblings and friends can be intense. Of course, there has to be some sort of prize, but that needn’t be expensive, it could be something simple like a sticker that says “I rang the big one” or a bell-shaped memento or cookie. It will get people talking about the bells for sure.
Hosting events does require more consideration. You need to make sure that you cover off all health and safety, and safeguarding issues. The church may ask for a risk assessment. Are you going to have demonstration ringing, have a go session, can you actually go and see the bells easily, are you going to lay on refreshments, how many people do you need to support it, how are you going to capture the details of anyone who is interested?
Going viral is of the moment. With the advent of social media, making sure that you have a presence is really important. Do you have a Facebook page, a twitter account, a website, a YouTube channel? Are they linked to the church site? Think about what content you could put up. Videos of ringing, talks, training seminars, live streams. Using tags to link into community sites, event sites, hashtags can all be used to spread the work through viral means. If you share something on your Twitter page, each of your contacts sees it and anyone that follows any of the tags that were attached. They in turn can like or retweet it in which case, all their contacts and tag followers will see it and before you know it, its out there.
Vicki Chapman, CCCBR PRO