Here’s a simple tip for event managers – leverage the media. Whether traditional or new, the media is still one of the easiest and most powerful tools for event promotion.
Media placements reach a very broad contingent of your target audience. They will likely deliver more attendees, which might equate to higher revenues or more CEUs awarded or some other metric that puts a checkmark next to your event’s objectives. Also, attaining earned media can be a reputation builder for your organization and event, and likely be viewed as an affirmation of the value of your offering.
So, how do you go about placing your upcoming event details in the media? Try these four steps.
1. Identify your target audience and the publications/platforms (and their corresponding websites) that reach that audience.
Start with your daily newspaper (and its website). Consider the weekly business newspaper as well as trade publications, associations’ publications, and even community-type publications, e.g., those of local government, the chamber of commerce, and so on.
For some events, it might make sense to look at television and even radio. Does your event fit the profile of events you’ve seen or heard on those platforms?
Think about your constituents’ demographics and where they get information. Those findings may lead you to supplement your media activities with similar efforts in social media or email, direct mail, and even advertising (topics for separate blogs). From your media research, list all of those applicable resources, and move on to the next step.
2. Find the appropriate contacts at those “media outlets.”
You need to identify the persons at your target media most likely to be responsible for placing your event information. Start by zeroing in on the events calendar. In hard copy publications, you typically need to peruse page 2 or the inside of the cover to find editorial staff. On websites, browse through the “upcoming events” or “calendar” sections and see if you can find the name and contact info of the person responsible for that section. For television and radio, you’ll likely find a staff listing on their websites. Add these contacts to your list, but don’t stop there.
You also might strike gold focusing within the target media on your subject area, e.g. find the education reporter or contact if your program/organization is education-related. Sometimes the appropriate coverage area of media might decide to turn your event notice into something bigger – you never know. It doesn’t hurt, when trying to promote an event, to approach the calendar contact as well as a subject-area contact.
3. Send them your information.
Create a simple media advisory. Here’s a good sample. Be sure to cover, at a minimum, the who, what, when, where and why – and you can do it in that direct of a fashion.
To sweeten your pitch, perhaps consider teasing your contact with highlights of last year’s event, what’s new and improved about the upcoming event or the benefits of attending. You might score more points delivering it old school (by mail on letterhead), but today e-mail is probably preferred over mail or fax.
4. Follow-up with a call – or two.
If your event or program is of value to the community, you’ve got a pretty easy pitch to media who generally strive to serve the community through timely information. Call them. You want to at least secure a calendar of events listing. You might also be planting the seed for actual media coverage of the event, so be sure to be prepared to facilitate possible interviews.
Do note that most publications’ event calendars have limited space, so you might be competing with other events. The earlier you can send them your media advisory and follow-up with a call, the better your chances of getting a placement.
Two other things to consider: first, programs and events geared toward internal audiences probably don’t need media promotion; and second, if your organization has a communications department, work through them. They are there to help with these kinds of efforts, they possess expertise in media relations, and they likely have established relationships with contacts you may target.
If you would like to share your thoughts on this article and tips about getting media placement for your events, please use the Comments section below.