The flowers are in place, the entertainment is booked and the food is piping hot, so what's next? Ready to take your big-time event production to a whole new level? If you don't have the budget to hire a publicist to do the heavy lifting, here are a few effective ways to help in attracting press coverage of your next big event.
1. Research your local press. Most publicists have access to a database of media outlets through services like PR Newswire, Cision or Meltwater, but when you don't have the available resources, Google is your next best friend. Do your own research and create a list of reporters to include names, emails and phone numbers of TV producers and reporters of newspapers, websites and blogs that would be interested in your event based on your audience. Google keywords that pertain to your event and see what publications pop up. Be patient. This will take some time!
2. Snag a celebrity host. It's no surprise that paparazzi and news reporters love the glitz and glam of Hollywood, the latest celebrity gossip, and a red carpet event, so when you're looking for some media attention for your charity or news-worthy event, wrangling in an A-List celebrity will definitely help the cause. Of course, that's easier said than done, but it's your shortcut to press coverage and bringing much-needed attention to your event. Some celebrities will want to be paid and some may host or attend the event because they feel a connection with the cause. Either way, it's a great way to garner the attention of your local, and sometimes national press. You can research publicists who represent celebrities through websites called whorepresents.com and contactanycelebrity.com. Both websites provide contact information for publicists and are a great resource to send personalized invites to celebrities and their publicists.
3. Create a media alert. This goes back to elementary school when we had to figure out the who, what, where and when of news articles! See....you didn't think that'd come in handy! A media alert is a SHORT outline of what your event is, who is attending, the location, time and how to RSVP as a member of the press. Remember, members of the press will expect to get in free so put aside complimentary tickets if your event is not free for all. Once you have a media alert, send it out to your press list 3-4 weeks in advance as a save the date, and then again once per week following up to the event with updates on who is attending. As you get closer to the event, you should send it out 3 days prior to, the day before and then the day of.
4. Follow up, follow up, follow up. Anyone use a phone these days? Put on your big girl panties and dial-up ALL those reporters with a friendly hello to see if they received your media alert and gauge whether or not they will be attending. You'll have 30 seconds to get to the point as soon as you hear a voice on the other end, so keep it short and sweet when following up with reporters...and...if you have a celebrity attending, make sure to lead off with their name.
5. Hire a photographer and create a press release before and after your event. Yes, you'll want to create two press releases. One before the event, which is a longer version of the media alert (keep it to one-word document) and often includes a quote from the organizer of the event or celebrity host. Many reporters will ask for the press release prior to attending the event. Once the event is over and you have those glitzy celebrity photos, send out a post-release with the photos to all your contacts.
6. Create a social media campaign. You'll need a bit of a budget for social media so pick one or two networks to help promote before, during and after your event. Use the network to sell tickets and create buzz around the event. Host LIVE Facebook or Instagram stories during the event, using key hashtags, and then post fun party photos after the event to show people what they missed. Since social media is mostly paid to play, you'll have to put some money behind each of your posts and to building a following in addition to creating fun content.
Sounds like a lot of work? Yup! It definitely is. Hopefully, you've learned some tricks of our trade, but for those interested in information about our event and public relations services, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org