It is a simple fact that you cannot adequately publicise a major event without press and media involvement. You can put details on your website, and so can your partners, but without some sort of media engagement, your reach will not be enough. For both event promotion, and disseminating the results of the event, you need help. Here are our top tips for media engagement and relations around an event.
Identify the media outlets that are most likely to be interested in your event, and target them by creating a news story for them – You will probably already know the influential news journals and magazines in your industry, as well as any national and international press outlets with a more general outlook but an interest in your industry. Send invitations to all of them, with information about the event, and at least one ‘teaser’ about a news story that is likely to emerge—for example, an announcement that your CEO or one of the sponsor companies plans to make on the day. This will give them a reason to attend and report on the event.
Ask suitable media organisations and outlets to sponsor your event – Media sponsorship does not usually involve any exchange of money. Instead, the media organisation gets access, and their logo on your communications, and you get publicity. Many press organisations keep lists of events online, and you want your event to be on all the appropriate lists. You also want stories and trailers about the event to be published ahead of time, to increase your likely attendance. The most effective way to use media sponsorship is to draw up very precise contracts, specifying the number of articles, the length, and the subject matter, so that both you and the editor know what is expected.
Prepare and share speaker details and trailers with press—and press details with speakers – Journalists are busy people. It is, therefore, helpful to present them with ready-made stories, because it makes it more likely that your stories will be published. One way to do this is to ask your speakers to prepare short abstracts of their speech, and also to do some speaker interviews to act as ‘trailers’ for the event, either on paper or as videos. It is also helpful to do more at the event itself for sharing afterwards, as this keeps the story going for longer. These can be shared direct with media outlets, and also on social media and your website. It is equally helpful for your speakers to know which journalists are planning to attend, so that they can set up interviews and press conferences at the event if they wish.
Cultivate a reputation for providing what journalists and press need on site – Journalists are more likely to want to attend an event when they know that they will have access to everything that they need. A dedicated press room, equipped with PCs, free wifi, and photocopiers, is likely to be a very good start. It is also helpful to provide press packs, speaker bios and photos, and copies of presentations. Another good option is providing a dedicated interview space, such as a corner, wall, or room, with chairs, suitable camera space and backdrop. This should be quiet so that interviews can be conducted, but easily accessible from both the main event space and press room.
The most important resource for journalists and press is stories – Physical equipment only goes so far, however. You also need to provide access to good stories: those that are easy to tell, and also that the journalists’ audiences want to read or hear. It is well worth putting some time in ahead of the event to consider what would be suitable, including interviews and announcements. Facilitating interviews with speakers and other VIPs attending the event will help to improve coverage, as will organising press conferences for anyone who is making an announcement at the event.
Stay in touch with journalists and press after the event – Event PR and press does not stop at the end of the event. It is worth staying in touch with the journalists and press who attended. You can ask them to provide you with a copy of anything published, and you can also supply them with details of any further interviews or stories that may be of interest. Building a good relationship with press will help for future events as well as ensuring coverage of this one.