With Gerry Brooks from Celebrate Educators
In this episode we talk to social media star, event speaker and elementary school principal Gerry Brooks. We invited Gerry to the podcast to talk about his rise to internet stardom and what it’s like to be both the talent and the event organizer for a traveling one man show.
In the podcast we talk about:
- How Gerry became an internet sensation
- Creating authentic relatable content that resonates with your target audience
- Leveraging a social media profile into a speaker event series
- Wearing multiple hats – Event Organizer, Promoter and Talent
- Marketing Events through social media
- Event logistics
- Building ongoing relationships with event attendees
- Working with a ticketing provider
- Outsourcing and getting expert advice
Listen now or read the show notes below
Through his popular YouTube videos focused on real-world educational experiences, Gerry has amassed a social media following of over 1 million people. His most popular viral video this year was viewed by over 10 million, and received national media coverage.
Gerry’s relatable stories and tell it like it is style, combined with his passion for education, has proven to be a winning formula, which now sees him booking speaking engagements across the country, and hosting a sell out event series called Celebrate Educators.
Find Gerry’s upcoming Celebrate Educators events on his Ticketbud Showcase Page.
How Gerry became an internet sensation
It all began a few years ago with a video Gerry shared on his personal facebook page about ‘What Principals do on Snow Days’. This playful video of Gerry running amok around the empty school grounds, went viral. Gerry decided to keep producing videos and people kept watching. His online presence grew fast from there. Soon his following was too big for his personal facebook page (apparently they cap you at 5000 friends), so Gerry had to start a Public Figure facebook page. He continued to grow his following, as well as posting videos on YouTube and sharing content on other channels like Instagram and Twitter.
While Gerry’s core audience is educators, his videos often have a significantly wider audience when he hits on a current topic in the media. Some of those videos have been viewed by millions, significantly broadening his audience. Gerry knows timeliness is key. If you have an idea for something that’s topical, it's important to share it right away.
Creating authentic relatable content that resonates with your target audience
Gerry says his success is an excellent example of the power of social media. The things that are happening in Gerry’s home town in Kentucky are happening across the US and around the world. The things that educators deal with are often universal. Gerry taps into the key relatable experiences and events, and uses humor to connect with his audience.
Gerry’s advice is to be authentic and find your niche. Identify your audience and adapt content to appeal to your audience.
Leveraging a social media profile into a speaker event series
Gerry was initially booking speaker spots at educational conferences. As demand grew to hear him speak, he also got feedback that some fans couldn’t afford the conferences. This led Gerry to start his own event series on the weekends. In 2018 Gerry ran 36 events, this year he plans to do about 45 weekend events.
Wearing multiple hats – Event organizer, Promoter and Talent
Being organized is the name of the game. Gerry not only manages his social media profile and speaker events, but this is on top of a full time role as a School Principal.
Gerry makes sure he has a schedule of content lined up. He does a video each week, social posts, promotion for his events, as well as finding the right balance for sponsor promotions. Gerry then travels for the weekend events, before heading back to his day job during the week. To keep everything on track as things have grown, Gerry has recruited the help of event planners to assist in managing his busy schedule and all the event communications.
Marketing Events through Social Media
If you are hosting your own speaker or book tours Gerry says Facebook is a great place to start. It allows you to create social ads targeting a specific area, then you can create ads relevant to your visit in that location.
You can advertise to the people who like your page that live in a certain area. It allows you to target a city and the radius around it. An ad that promotes an event in a specific location is going to get more engagement and shares than a general ad promoting your event everywhere.
It’s important to encourage social engagement. Gerry runs promotions and giveaways, for people that share and tag friends in posts. He asks the host schools and teachers in the district to like and share the event posts. The more engagement you get on a post the more opportunity it has to be seen by a wider audience.
Gerry decided to host his events in schools rather than paying for event spaces. The schools provide the venue for free and in return the event becomes a fundraiser for the school, with 10% of ticket sales going back to the school.
When Celebrate Educators is visiting a location they put a call out to schools in the area who might have a suitable venue. Venues have to meet certain criteria as part of the contract, things like having a tech person on location, and the availability of a school auditorium with a certain seating capacity.
Building ongoing relationships with event attendees
Gerry explains that with Ticketbud’s platform he can email attendees with updates and communication around a specific event they’re attending. As well as being able to export all the email contacts from his events into an email marketing system, where he communicates with them on an ongoing basis. Gerry currently has around 28k email contacts, developed through event attendees on Ticketbud.
Working with a ticketing provider
Gerry likes having a ticketing customer service manager that's familiar with his events and keeps things running smoothly. Someone who knows what he’s looking for and can pick up potential issues.
Gerry’s events have between 500 to 1400 attendees, and sell out across the country, often the day of release. Gerry admits there is no way he could manage the volume of ticket sales on his own. He did a lot of research on ticketing providers and saw Ticketbud had such great reviews.
“It’s just been a great collaboration, and something that’s been tremendously helpful in my business”.Gerry Brooks on working with Ticketbud
Outsourcing and getting expert advice
If you want to achieve more, Gerry advises getting expert help. Sometimes we can get caught in the mindset of not wanting to give away a percentage of profits or pay out money. But the reality is that it can take you to the next level of success, and free your time to focus on what you do best. Gerry has agents helping him manage his social media profile and sponsorships, event planners to help with the logistics of his many events, and Ticketbud to manage ticketing.