Explorers Connect

How to . . . promote your expedition

How-toJames Hipkiss

There is a number of exciting expeditions out there so trying to spread the word about your endeavour through that jungle of adventures might be a real pain. If you don't have a sharp machete in the form of the contact details to a well known adventure magazine editor then maybe few of the following points will be of some help.

My travel through India, Pakistan and Afghanistan gave me a chance to observe and experience the life of people that are living in very remote and isolated regions of the word. It helped me to realise that people living in such places learned how to be creative; they learned how to use the little resources that they have available to them in the best possible way. And so, ladies in India that were working on tea plantations packed their lunch in banana leaves. Females from Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan used buttons to decorate their outfits. An old shop keeper from a town of Karimabad in Pakistan used a stream that was coming from a nearby glacier to cool drinks that he was selling. Planning Afghanistan's Secret Peaks expedition gave me an opportunity to use a similar technique; to think deeply about the resources I have available in my own natural habitat London. An obvious place to start is social media gurus like Facebook and Twitter. Getting your expedition website running is another must do. Once you have them you are able to lure potential adventure junkies with colourful photos and a promise of an exciting experience. Harass all your mates to push that Facebook like button hard to get you some first support.

The approach that we took on the expedition Facebook page was to bring not only the latest updates about the progress of the expedition and the team but also to bring awareness about the region and the country itself. Posting about history, culture and people of the Wakhan allowed us to talk about Afghanistan in a different way to that seen in the media of war and devastation. We wanted to share links about others that went to the region and worked on various projects to bring a better understanding of the country. This did not go unnoticed. A few days after sharing news about the work of one of the social enterprises focused on Afghanistan we noticed them posting news about the Afghanistan's Secret Peaks expedition. Our expedition FB page was picked up by Matthieu Paley, a French photographer that was blogging this winter from Wakhan for Nat Geo. Recently he has been posting about our expedition on his FB page. Get in touch with people that are directly interested in the subject of your expedition. As Afghanistan's Secret Peaks has mountaineering and a paragliding aspect to it we have posted on number of forums that connect to both activities. The international character of our team allowed us to put the info about the expedition on German, Polish, English and Australian forums.

We have also used and abused our friends language skills and got them to post on forums in Italy, France, Spain, Belgium and a few other countries in Europe. All to get as many people talking about the expedition as possible. Once the gene is out of the bottle it is hard to stop it. After posting on Polish mountaineering forums we have received several offers from media partners and equipment sponsorship. Try to make the most of you media partners not only in terms of promo of your own expedition but also for your future sponsors. If you are able to persuade your media partners to put logos of your sponsors and links to their websites you will have an advantage when looking for sponsors. When you get that support from public and a thousand or so hits on your forum post you can use that as a selling tool for potential sponsors as well. Get in touch with as many magazines and website that are involved in adventure, exploration or whatever it is that you are doing. They are run by people that have travelled widely. Some magazines have a short bio about their editors. Check that; check the places they have been to and their interests. An editor of one of magazines that wrote an article about us once wanted to travel to Wakhan himself. Our common interest in the region got him to publish about us.

London is a place full of adventure events. Get yourself out there. People always warm up towards ones ideas when they can put a face to that expedition that they have seen on the forum you posted before. You can infect them with your enthusiasm and passion for what you are doing. I attend almost every such event, simply for a pure pleasure of listening about stories of others explorers and an opportunity to meet people behind those stories. I remember going once to RGS event for a talk given by a number of explores. Some of speakers included Benedict Allen and Ed Stafford. I remember having a short chat with them and asking for their business cards. It paid off when it came to promotion of the expedition. When I emailed both mentioned above, I was surprised to receive a message of support from both of them. Such events are amazing way to meet like-minded people, share stories and ask for advice. You can learn so much from people that have been there and done things. Its a great place for networking and creating your own net of contacts. The message of support we received from Sir Ranulph Fiennes came from a contact passed by one of the Explorers Connect speakers.

A contact for an article for a travel magazine was passed by a person met on the same event. That is two great contacts made during one night. Talk to people about your expedition wherever you can. Once in an outdoor store I had a chat with an individual that was looking for mountaineering boots. Great I thought we have the same interest. I have mentioned to him about the expedition and how difficult I can be to promote such endeavour, we are talking here about going to Afghanistan. He mentioned his freelancer journalist friend that is very much into climbing. Few weeks later the expedition was in another paper. One of your biggest assets is your team. Well, you might be screwed on that one if you are planning to go on a solo trip. Get them to flex that brain muscle to bring new ideas. One of my team mates Andreas works for an environmental organisation CO2OL that is focusing on reforestation of tropical regions. Cooperation with his company allowed us to create a CO2 free mountaineering and paragliding expedition and be featured the organisation website. You can never expect when your new contact will come from.

A message of support that we have received from John Silvester, a British paragliding guru, was possible thanks to the help of teammate Chriss old friend from Pakistan - Mansoor. Mansoor and Mr Silvesters paths crossed during Mr Silvesters pioneering flights in the Karakuram Mountains in Hunza region and till now they are the best buddies. So, a quick call to Karimabad located in Northern Pakistan allowed us to get in touch with the Birdman of the Karakorum based in the UK. Look into projects and expeditions that your team mates have been involved before. Get in touch with those that organise adventure talks and events. Team mate Williams impressive paragliding endeavours across the Asian continent got him to give talks on several such events. This is a great opportunity to spread the word about your new expedition. All of the above ideas sound pretty simple and basic but most of the time it is what you have to start with. Use resources that you have around you and build up on that.

Be inspired by any small and simple idea that you might have. Its the attitude of mind that counts the most in any stage of your expedition.

Words by Malgorzata Skowronska