For Immediate Release: How to snag media attention for your corporate event
It’s going to be the event of the year. Your team has put blood, sweat and even some tears into every detail to make the event memorable and engaging. But nobody seems interested. You’ve blasted dozens of media releases into the black hole of cyberspace with no response.
Businesses hold all kinds of events, from ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings to full-scale user conferences and conventions. When promoting your event, how can you make it stand out in a world where the media is bombarded with stories, requests and updates 24 hours a day?
Jennifer Hurst, director of public relations for The Summit Group, has been in the PR industry since 1993. She has watched the industry evolve into a 24/7 news machine that must be constantly fed.
But one thing hasn’t changed: Reporters are always looking for something unique, or a new story to tell. “You have to ask, ‘What can I give that’s a little bit different?’ They want to provide content that is interesting,” Hurst says. “The best way to describe it is to look at things through a different lens and see if that sparks something different.”
Bring in a human interest angle
Look at your event from a variety of angles, perhaps finding a human interest aspect that will resonate with readers. Smaller events might offer one or two topics, but a larger event can create multiple opportunities.
Create occasions for the media to do exclusive interviews, or work side-by-side with a media contact to develop a story. Ask the media person their opinion for what would make your idea interesting enough to become a news story. “PR professionals rely on relationships. You need to have experience in the market and create connections with the media that have been built over time,” says Hurst.
Connecting your event with a social cause is another way to get the media interested, as long as the partnership is genuine and not a blatant attention grab. Fundraising events for nonprofit organizations usually have a lot of human interest angles that can bring awareness to your happening.
“Everyone likes a good cause, as long as it’s done authentically. You have to know your community and what’s relevant to your market.”
Amplify your results by asking employees to share event information on their social media pages. When the event is linked to a cause or a charity, employees are usually willing to promote activities, especially if it turns into a contest with prizes.
Get expert advice
Sometimes you need to call a professional, someone who has a consistent, reliable presence in the public relations industry. Hiring a marketing agency might cost a little more up front, but the opportunities for return on that investment make it a sound venture.
Choose an agency that fits your company’s or event’s personality, and make sure there’s a rapport between you so they understand your culture. Much like vetting an employee, a PR rep has to understand the goals and purposes of your event to create the best partnership.
“You can do it on your own, but you’ll get more when you hire a professional,” says Hurst. “Companies might think it’s too expensive to hire a firm, but it starts a conversation. They can help identify your audience and run grassroots or social media campaigns.”
Create an effective release
A media release can make or break your event. Crafting an interesting release takes some time, but there are proven techniques that can improve your odds when you want to spread the word. Here are top guidelines to help you reach your target audience:
Be timely. For a big event, send information to the media a few weeks ahead of time, maybe even invite them to a special preview or launch party. Don’t send a press release for an event that is planned for the next day, or the same day. Almost no one can respond to those requests.
Less is more. Don’t send a release to the media every time you hire a new person, partner with a new company or update your website because reporters will stop reading your emails. Be selective when contacting the media and save the release for things that matter.
Include an informative headline. Give the media information up front. Don’t bury the lead three paragraphs into the release, making the reporter figure out what your release is all about.
Keep it short. Your release shouldn’t be more than one page, with four or five paragraphs and lots of white space. Keep the information concise and easy to understand with correct contact information available, as well as a contact person who returns phone calls or emails quickly.
Lose the industry jargon. Reporters don’t have time to decipher your three-page, technical press release. If they don’t grasp the concept or idea quickly, it gets deleted.
Keep formatting simple. Most editors cut and paste information out of your release. Don’t make it difficult by including lots of art, strange formatting, flowery fonts or documents that are hard to copy.
“The most important thing when promoting an event or sending out a press release is to ask if anyone outside your industry cares about this information,” Hurst says. “How can you make your information relatable to the public?”