Promoting Christchurch’s most-colourful cultural event

The Holi Festival of Colours is Christchurch’s most-colourful cultural event and it's growing fast. The Word Lab supported organisers Hitesh Sharma of Revel Events and Sandeep Khanna with their event communications and media relations this year. Our Lead Consultant Hannah has been involved with the event in various ways since it began five years ago and offered her services to the Holi team pro-bono.

Traditionally, Holi is celebrated in India as a day to forget your worries or past issues and to come together as one – no matter your background or situation. The colours signify everyone becoming equal. In Christchurch the event is all about celebrating our city’s diversity – something which The Word Lab team was very keen to get behind. 

Crowds at the 2018 Holi Festival in Christchurch.

Crowds at the 2018 Holi Festival in Christchurch.

The challenge

Holi relies on volunteers and sponsorship to remain free to the public, which means that for such a large event, it has limited promotional resources.

Organisers Hitesh and Sandeep wanted to take care of most of their marketing and communications in-house, so The Word Lab had the challenge of creating a plan that would be effective, while making the most of limited resources and volunteer skill-sets.

What we did

As always, we started by working with the team to develop a clear communications strategy for the event. Activities that would make an impact without cost were essential.

The Holi team were able to execute most of this plan themselves, but needed additional support with PR and media.

We supplied a targeted media list and gave the team advice on key journalists to pitch to. Our first release focused on Holi coinciding with St Patrick’s Day this year. We included video and images to give media a preview of performances and create interest. We also provided coaching to organiser Hitesh so that he was able to send out the story himself and coordinate the responses directly.  As a result, the Holi team now has new relationships with journalists, which will benefit the event in the future.

On the day, our Lead Consultant Hannah volunteered and looked after media, including helping the One News team film in the mosh-pit!

A post-event media release was also prepared to go out following the event, with official photos available on request.

Lead Consultant Hannah got very colourful in the mosh-pit while working at Holi.

Lead Consultant Hannah got very colourful in the mosh-pit while working at Holi.

The result

The numbers at this year’s Holi blew the team away, with a tally of over 10,000 attendees. This year also attracted the most media interest since the event was introduced to Christchurch.

Hitesh was interviewed on NewsTalk ZB prior to the event and Holi was promoted in the Indian Newslink, plus across many local radio stations.

In its fifth year running, we also finally cracked TV coverage with One News, who did a feature on Holi’s unique St Patrick’s Day twist.

Chris Lynch came along to the event and created a video for his channels, plus did live crosses on the day. The Press and Stuff.co.nz ran stories online with video and Holi was also featured in many local newspapers.

All of this coverage was free and we hope that it will mean more sponsorship and an even bigger and brighter event for the team next year.

Well done Hitesh, Sandeep and all the volunteers. Holi was amazing!

Media coverage gallery

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Client feedback

"I have worked with Hannah in different roles for the last 6 years and I can confidently say that she enables people to connect, communicate and achieve more than they think is possible. We wouldn't have been able to make the Holi Festival of Colours so popular without Hannah’s help. My company Revel Events is now working with The Word Lab on other festivals. Our audiences are always well-informed with all the information leading up to and after events because of strategically planned and well executed communications by Hannah." - Hitesh Sharma, Director, Revel Events.