How Public Relations played a role in building Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival


What is the Bonnaroo festival?


Before I start explaining to you how Public Relations played a role in building Bonnaroo festival, I’ll explain to you what it is and where is. The Bonnaroo festival is an annbonnaroo-2010-lineup-608x329ual music and arts festival held in Manchester, Tennessee, USA. The  festival had its first opening in 2002, it usually starts on the second Thursday of June and lasts four days. At the very beginning, it concentrated more on Jam bands and folk rock but now has a broad range of artists.


Public Relations’ role in Bonnaroo  

Its first year, the festival had sold out its 70,000 seat capacity with 47 artists with NO traditional advertising. And this is where you are wondering how they made that happen. It’s quite simple and actually interesting.What if I told you that Public Relation is what mainly helped building Bonnaroo’s brand. Having one of the lowest advertising budget of any festival, their main focus was the publicity, the press and, media relations. Jeff Cuellar, director of marketing and business development for Knoxville, has played an important role in planning and executing the festival since it first began. He stated that most of the publicity came from the bands, by getting them to talk about what they were doing at the festival and

Bonnaroo 2002 – bands & artists line up

how they would be a part of it. This shows how the promotion from the bands or performers – who already have a fan base can be successful. Bonnaroo has become a definitive summer festival destination. It was featured as a prize in “the price is right” and they currently have Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor called Bonnaroo Buzz.


How Bonnaroo practises corporate social responsibility  

It’s important to build a brand and to continue to represent all it stands for and giving back to the community that supports your events. Bonnaroo has been named one of the greatest festivals in the world and they do their corporate social responsibility by building ties with their local community. They bought the land in Coffee county and are now citizens of Coffee county. They play an economical and social part in the county by having its own post office, radio station, daily newspaper and Whole Food outpost. Bonnaroo members were part  of the Chamber of Commerce  even before they purchased the property .They have an investment in the community and they give back as much as they possibly can.

Giving back is always one of our key strategies and something that we have deemed as a fabric of the festival.

While their goal is to make Coffee county a live entertainment industry by bringing companies there, to supply infrastructure and to fulfil needs for large outdoor events , They also force their vendors to use compostable material. They also cre
ated Works Fund which has contributed to the growth of the area.

Official logo of the Bonnaro works fund

The Bonnaroo Works Fund supports regional and national organizations with a mission of making communities healthy in areas of the arts, education, and environmental sustainability; with the goal
of local reinvestment and asset building for the communities in which we live, work and play.

Bonnaroo strive to find new ways to make the event greener. They do carbon shredders and they have onsite composting. Given that organizing and having festivals is not very environmentally friendly ( because many things have to be brought in, and most people are driving ),  they continue their search to help make it more green and have potentially zero impact on the environment.

This is a clear example of how Public Relation practices can make your festival successful ! If you ask me, I’m more than surprised about their journey and their success .

Juliana S Muhawe


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