Have you ever held a media event and wondered why you didn’t get the results that you had hoped for?
There’s no doubt that media events can really help create a lot of buzz for your business. If they are done right.
Create a good enough photo opportunity and you will have the media beating down your door to come and capture it for their nightly news bulletin or next feature spread.
So just set something up, invite them and they will come and create a story, right? Wrong!
The most effective media events take a lot of careful planning and thoughtful execution.
Here’s our top tips for hosting an effective media event:
- Always Plan – whilst it might be good to just check your team is available on the day that you want to hold your event and go for it, you need to look at the bigger picture – what else is going on around town? Is the day you are considering hosting your event the day of something bigger/conflicting? Is your event outside at a time of year that is exceptionally hot/cold? Do you have a wet weather plan? Definitely check that the date suits your own staff/spokespeople, but also check what else may be happening around town, and plan to the best of your ability. Plan the event’s end goal and purpose, plan the guests you would like to have attend, plan to accommodate the media you wish to attend.
- Watch the clock – timing is everything. Most media, particularly the TV news, need to go out and source their stories in the first half of the day, then return to their studios to prepare the news bulletin for that same evening. So, if you want the TV news to attend your event, don’t schedule a nighttime media event. Early to mid-morning will suit most media and, if you can, avoid Fridays and weekends where possible.
- Know your invitees – if your media event has a health focus, ensure you are inviting the best health reporters from around town. If it’s a travel and leisure launch, be sure to invite the best most relevant contacts. Keep up to date with the media contacts, the relevant outlets and know the people you are inviting ahead of your event.
- Ensure the photo opportunity is newsworthy – is what you are planning really that exciting? Media are after the images – eye-catching images and video, something unique, colourful, visually appealing, interesting and new. And above all, something that is newsworthy. You need to ensure your planned photo/video op is really worth publicising – and think beyond the tired media events that have been done many times before, such as the unveiling of plaques and ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Think about how you can make your event the most interesting and engaging that it can be – and try and establish a few options for photo/video opportunities and interviews at the same event – not all media outlets will want exactly the same thing.
- Talent talent talent – ensure that the talent you wish to offer the media at your event are knowledgeable in their field, experienced and confident talking to the media. This is your opportunity to showcase your organisation’s best people.
- Give media the heads up – communicate with the media that you would like them to attend. Do it clearly, concisely and early. The best way to achieve this is to write a Media Alert which clearly outlines the opportunity and the basics of what, when where who, where, why and how. This really needs to be a diary date to get your event on the media’s radar. We recommend you issue a media alert one week prior to your event, then again the day prior. Whilst newsrooms are always busy places, and they do not appreciate hundreds of calls, we recommend you also call the main outlets you desire to secure their attendance at your event. Keep it light and don’t be pushy. From experience, if they like your media event and they are available, they will be there.
- Make things easy – it goes without saying, the media are a super busy and very time-poor bunch. Really watch the duration of your event and be conscious not to take up too much of their time unnecessarily. For example, if you have five key speakers and one photo opportunity at the end, advise your media of this to give them the option to only attend for the photo opportunity and a brief interview at the end. Be flexible – if a news team wants a quick grab prior to your main speeches so that they can head off to another story, try and accommodate this. Line up radio interviews in a timely manner, be responsive and if you cannot get the journalist the person they need when they need them, offer some alternatives. Don’t make the location difficult or confusing to access, ensure parking is available, and always ensure that your media contact person always has their phone on to access all media queries about your event ahead of time, and on the day.
- Provide the detail – again, because the media are so time-poor, be sure to have your detailed Media Release and Media Backgrounder (if applicable) pre-written so you can supply at the time of your event to those media who attend, and then distribute to your broader media lists post your event. Ensure your media release has all the basics of the story you wish to communicate and clear quotes from your desired spokesperson/people.
- Plan for the worst-case scenario – be prepared that you may go to all the trouble of setting up what you think is a great photo opportunity/event, and you may still get no media at all turn up on the day. There are never any guarantees when it comes to the media as there are many factors at play including ever-shrinking staff in newsrooms, and conflicting news of the day which can be prioritised right up until your event. This is why it is very important to capture your event yourself – through the use of a professional photographer and/or videographer- so the opportunity is not wasted. If you capture your own content, you can always pitch it direct to journalists and supply what you have along with your Media Release as a ‘packaged story’ that they are free to run. At the very least, you can also use the content for your own channels such as your website, enewsletter and social media, and for those other guests such as clients and stakeholders that you may have invited along, so that your media event still has a very useful purpose.
At Threesides we have helped many clients across many industries create successful media events over the years. If you have something in mind, we are more than happy to talk it through and see how we can assist.