Few Go clubs could survive without publicity. Every member of a club was once not a member, found about about the club somehow, and joined. If you want your club to survive, you will need to recruit new members.
Publicity for Go clubs can be directed at people who know the game but are unaware of the existence of the club, and at those who have never heard of Go but like other games. The former is easier to do, and more productive of new members. The latter is more in the interest of the "Go community" as a whole, as it adds to the community; it should only be attempted if your club is happy to explain the rules to newcomers.
Some ways of publicising the opening of a Go club are listed below.
The easiest and most effective way is via a web site. Many people find out about Go, and later about their local clubs, through the internet. It is therefore important for a club to have an up-to-date website, or at least an up-to-date BGA Club Listing, which should state reliably and accurately where and when the club meets.
The site should state whether the club is open to visitors. Most clubs are, but it is still important to reassure potential visitors by saying so. It should also state whether the club welcomes those who are new to Go. Many clubs welcome people who want to learn about the game, and have members who are happy to teach them: these should say so on their web site. There are a few clubs which do not welcome beginners: these benefit nobody by pretending otherwise.
If no-one in your club has space in which to host a web site, the BGA provides ample free space for club pages: just send the webmaster an email containing the page that you want hosted, preferably in html. If no-one in the club can even generate html, send him the content you want put on the page, in some electronic format (a text file will do) so that he can convert it easily.
At the very least make sure that the BGA webmaster has the details of your club, so that he can put it on the Club List, and ensure that other people in the BGA know about your club.
Posters can be obtained free from the BGA Secretary, and be displayed in a workplace or school. Alternatively you can print them yourself and incorporate your own messages. Most effectively, they can be displayed in a university or technical college, since students often take to Go quickly and spread the game amongst themselves.
Advertisements, and even articles, in local newspapers are unlikely to achieve anything. Advertisements in student newpapers can be effective.
Most local libraries are willing to keep a supply of leaflets about local clubs. We recommend printing some of these and giving them to your library, to hand out to people who ask about local games clubs. These leaflets should give details of the club, say a little about the game, and give the URL of the club web site. It helps if they can give the actual times and place of club meetings, rather than a telephone number to obtain these details – some people are shy of making such a call to a stranger, but willing to attend a meeting in a public place.
You should also provide the library with copies of the trifold leaflet, which is an introduction to Go and to the BGA and also has a space to include your own information. It is available from the BGA secretary.
You should go along once or twice a year to check that they still have a stock of your leaflets, and replenish them if they have run out.
Many libraries also have a database of local clubs, which the public can access. You should make sure your club is on this. It is a very easy and fairly effective way to find new members.
The Play Go booklet isn't suitable for publicity purposes, but may be useful in face-to-face encounters.
Games shops may allow the free display of a card giving a clubs details (as for leaflets for the local library). This is a good way to advertise to people who already know of Go, or are keen to learn about it. Notices in the windows of other kinds of shop are unlikely to achieve anything.
While you are in a games shop to put up your card, have a look at the other cards there. If there is say a chess club or a war games club, it might be a good idea to contact them and mention the existence of your Go club.
There is a section below on Go clubs within universities. If your club is not a university club, but is in a city with a university, this is likely to be your most promising recruiting ground. Find out whether the university has a Go club. If it has, contact its organisers and tell them about your club. Its stronger players may be willing to visit your club as well, so as to play some new opponents. If the university has no Go club, try to find a way to advertise your club within the university.
All publicity for a club should state clearly and reliably where and when the club meets. If it is not possible to predict these, because details of meetings are only decided close to the time, publicity can instead give the URL of the club's web site, so long as this is kept thoroughly up to date. A club which states publicly where and when it meets is in a much better position to attract new members than one which requires potential visitors to ring up in advance – some people are willing to drop in on a club to see how they feel about it, but are shy of making a phone call, which implies more commitment than they may be willing to give.
Finally, a good way to spread Go is to talk about the game – many people who would ignore other publicity try out the game because a friend of a friend plays Go.
A new club that wants to attract more members, or a club that has recently expanded to larger and publicly accessible premises, should use any or all of the methods listed above. Also, it is encouarged to contact the BGA Membership Secretary to for details of any unattached members already in the area who can be invited to join.
University students are much more receptive to the idea of joining a Go club than are members of the general public. So setting up a Go club, or publicising an existing Go club, within a university has a very good chance of success.
It is easier to keep beginners keen on go if they have other beginners of the same standard to play against. Partly for this reason, and partly to make teaching easier, it is a good idea to try to recruit a large number of beginners at the same time, and the best way to do this is to run widely publicised open evenings once a year, preferably near the start of the academic year. You might also manage an open evening near the start of each term, to encourage new players to appear in a bunch rather then spread throughout the term.
The best way to attract new members, and publicise the open evening, is through the Freshers' Fair at the start of each academic year. Contact the students' union at the beginning of the summer to get details of the Freshers' Fair. There will usually be a small charge for this, but it can be worth it in terms of the numbers of people who then come to the open evening. The vital thing about an open evening is that it should be widely advertised.
Deliberate raids on the chess and bridge clubs are good, as they have the great advantage of concentrating on people known to enjoy playing competitive games in clubs. There may also be groups which meet to play other games such as Dungeons and Dragons or Othello which can be raided in the same manner. When "raiding" a club, you should get the approval of the club's organisers, and above all, take care not to disparage their game. You may believe that Go is a better game than tiddlywinks, and you may even be right; but you will do yourself no good at all by saying so to members of the tiddlywinks club. Rather, you should point out that many people enjoy both games, and invite them to organise a reciprocal raid.
When it comes to actually running the open evening, it is important to spend as little time as you can manage teaching the rules, and to get people to play as many games as possible reasonably quickly (chess players in particular have a tendency to spend far too long thinking in their first few games) and only using 9×9 boards. You may need a good number of helpers for this, as many as one teacher per two pupils, so that every game can be observed. Photocopied small boards will do, but look a bit tacky. Section 4 gives advice on teaching beginners.