Tips to Getting Media to Attend and Cover Your Event
Planning an event is hard enough but when you add inviting media to the mix, it can feel overwhelming. You’re not alone — many of the people we meet feel that same pressure: how do we get media to our event? What do we need to do to ensure they will cover it? If your company is looking to get media attention around its next event, here are a few key things to keep in mind:
Before the event
1. Determine if your event is newsworthy: Unfortunately, not every event is newsworthy. While you (or your boss) may be excited about your internal holiday party or staff awards ceremony, that doesn’t mean the media will be. Before you reach out to media, make sure your event will be of interest to reporters and even more importantly, their readers / viewers. Is there anything new, timely or trendy you’re including in the event? Will a notable guest speaker be attending your event? Remember, not all media covers the same thing. Do your research on what each outlet is covering and see if it makes sense to reach out to them before you waste both their time and yours.
2. Pitch the media early and efficiently: Reporters are busy; they are constantly being bombarded with emails and can receive up to 20 event invitations a week — so they book up quickly. If you want them to attend your event over the others, you need to get on their calendars far in advance. Due to the influx of email pitches they’re getting on any given day, make sure you keep your pitch short and sweet. Give them the most pertinent information up front and proactively answer any questions you think they might have so they don’t have to follow up.
3. Appeal to their emotions: If your event has a human-interest story around it, play it up. Media, especially TV stations, want stories that reach people emotionally. Fundraising events, charity walks and events supporting cause-related organizations are happening all the time, so highlighting your company’s personal reasoning behind holding this event will set you apart from the rest.
4. Make your event media-friendly: The media want to report on the news quickly, so do what you can to help them write their stories on-site. Designate a space that can be used exclusively as a media room so there is somewhere for them to work while covering the event. The media are using digital and social platforms to report the news quicker than they ever have before, so make sure your venue has Internet access.
During the event
Once you’ve got the media there, make sure it’s a worthwhile experience.
1. Make media feel like a VIP: Reporters are some of the top guests at your event and should be treated as such, so give them the VIP treatment. Have a seasoned media liaison (such as your internal PR director or someone from your PR agency) on-site who can recognize media, personally greet them and connect them with key spokespeople for interviews. Give them a rundown of the event and point out specific times and locations that are good for photo-ops or b-roll.
2. Have spokespeople available for interviews: If the media decide to invest time in attending your event, make sure they can get most (if not all) of the information they need to write a compelling story while at the event. This includes meaningful on-site interviews with designated spokespeople who can answer questions about the event, your mission and / or the company as a whole. Make sure all of the spokespeople are media trained by a PR agency to ensure that they are confident speakers, can represent your company well and understand the dos and don’ts of media interviews.
3. Connect with them before they leave: As mentioned above, it’s important to make sure the media get everything they need while at your event (or immediately after) so they can quickly turnaround a story. So if you see a member of the media getting ready to leave your event, do your due diligence and check in to make sure they don’t have any follow-up questions or need anything else such as hi-res photos.
After the event
Media attendance is not a guarantee of coverage. There are a few things you can do after the event to help make sure the story gets published.
1. Make good on all follow-up promises: If the media have asked for any follow-up information (such as photos, contact information for other spokespeople, facts and figures, etc.), make sure you provide that information in a timely fashion.
2. Reach out to media who weren’t able to attend: Just because an outlet wasn’t able to attend your event, doesn’t mean they won’t report on it. Reach back out to the media you sent an invitation to with assets (such as photos, video, fact sheets, etc.) from the event that may help them formulate a story, and offer up interviews with your key spokespeople.
Feeling inspired and need help promoting your next event? Contact us to start the conversation.