IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY *MIGHT* COME
You’ve put in the work. Remember those hours of finalizing plans and ironing out details to ensure this event is the best you’ve ever hosted? But, there’s one looming concern you’ve been avoiding to address. How do you actually invite and get media to attend? Do you invite every print, television and radio journalist in the state? Do you pick and choose who you want to come? What channel do you use? What’s the timeframe for the invite?
Here at Koch Comm, we believe in reaching out to key media members who are most likely to have interest in an event in a timely and personable fashion, working to build relationships over impersonal pitches. Those personal relationships lead not only to increased coverage, but also to your story being told in a way that best positions your brand for future coverage and on-point messaging. Here’s what we’ve found to be a tried-and-true way to ensure you’re ready to host the right media for your event.
BEFORE THE EVENT
– Check calendars to ensure your event will not compete with others. You don’t want media members to have to choose. City chambers, CVBs and online event calendars are great places to find this information.
– Sending mass invites often doesn’t result in good coverage so be intentional and begin reaching out to key media members 1-2 months in advance if you can. Be thoughtful about what their editorial calendar may look like before you call. A monthly magazine may need a full two months to consider your story, while a daily paper may need no more than a week. Be sure and create a follow up plan as well. You may pitch early to build excitement, then send more formal invitations with more details as the event draws closer.
– Don’t forget bloggers and social influencers; their coverage can be as valuable as traditional media. Keep in mind many have day jobs, so they may not be able to attend an event during the weekday.
– Be personal with your outreach. Let the media member know why you thought of them to cover the event. Don’t be discouraged if you hear no. Ask if you can send a news release and photos after the event so you can still get coverage.
– Have a “run of show” for the event. Whether this is a more formal event with speaking opportunities or a casual event with press tours and opportunities for media availability, you need a plan. Share this plan with your speakers so they know what to expect when it comes to having media or social influencers at your event.
DURING THE EVENT
– Take great photos. This may be a time to hire a professional. If you’re managing media members, you may struggle to get the photos you need, so find someone else to take on this task. These photos are crucial for your post-event release.
– Take charge! This is your event, so don’t be afraid to stick to the schedule or say no if it deviates from the message you’re trying to get out there. As an example, you may only allow a couple of questions from the media in a press conference setting so there is time for more personal interviews. Let the media members know and don’t be afraid to keep a staunch timeline.
AFTER THE EVENT
– Write and send the post-event release and photos ASAP! Those who couldn’t attend will appreciate getting that information quickly.
– Follow up with media members who you identified prior to the event. See if they need anything else as they finish their story, and don’t be afraid to ask when it may run.
– Conduct a “hot wash” meeting. This meeting is held as quickly as possible after the event (hopefully within a day or two) to go over any lessons learned and improving the event. This is especially important if the event is an ongoing event, but even one-time events can create lessons that will improve future events. Be honest about what worked and what didn’t and take great notes for next time.
Often times in event planning there is a mentality of “If you build it, they will come.” We know all-too-well that’s not the case. Even the coolest events need to sell media on why they should attend. While post-event news releases and photos have value, live, in-person coverage enables for more unique angles and relationship building.
Sometimes, all of this has to be done in a short time-span, and that’s okay. For example, recently one of Koch Comm’s clients held a large event with just a couple days to get media there. While we all would love having a month or two to work on filling a room, you can still have a lot of success with this method in a short amount of time. This is where reaching the right media can be so important – and impactful – for your event.