Holding a press event is a tricky thing. It can generate great media coverage and public exposure, but you also run the risk of throwing a party where no one shows up.
If the key to your event is getting press to come, then you need to be able to get their interest and participation. That’s why I’ve jotted down the following tips to help you get the word out to the press in a way that will give you a high percentage shot at having them attend.
Writing Media Alerts
Getting a television crew to your event requires some finesse, and the format of the pitch is different than that of a press release. A media alert is the appropriate tool which gives a TV producer or assignment desk editor all the information they need to decide on whether the event you’re holding is of interest to them. Write the media alert in five sections: Who, What, When, Where and Visuals.
- Who: Name your company and any key executives or dignitaries who might be in attendance. Include only those who will be available to speak on camera.
- What: What is the announcement or the reason for the event? Include all material you consider news.
- When: Make certain to include the date and time of the event, and how long it will run. Also include the schedules of any on-camera spokespeople, and if they will be available before the event.
- Where: This is key. You need to include an address, directions, and a link for Google Maps or MapQuest if you can. Getting a reporter or a crew to an event can be won or lost in how well you direct them there. If security personnel will be at the event or venue, make sure they know the media might be coming.
- Visuals: TV is a visual medium, so make sure you have something for the cameras to shoot. Talking heads does not a press event make. Have demos, graphs, lots of people around, so they’ll have something other than an executive in a suit to shoot.
Timing the Delivery of Your Media Alert
To get a television crew at your event, you should follow these instructions precisely, to ensure the highest level of communication possible without annoying the producers and assignment editors.
- First, send the media alert out two weeks prior to the event. Then, one week prior. Then send it to them each of the three days just before the event. The reason for this is that there are different desk editors on different days and different shifts, and they delete all their emails frequently to make room for new alerts.
- Two days before the event, call the assignment desks at all the TV stations you want to cover your event. Ask them if they received your alert – they’ll say no. That’s okay. If it doesn’t grab them right away, they’ll toss it. Send it again, and then call him back immediately afterward, and pitch your event. They’ll give you instructions on how to proceed, which will usually include them asking you to call the morning of the event. That’s okay – you’re going to do that anyway.
- Call on the morning of your event. By now, they know your event, and they know who you are. If your event is interesting enough for them, they’ll tell you. If your event is on a Saturday or Sunday, please be advised that most TV stations only have one crew on duty on the weekends. They’ll be stretched thin, so you reduce your chances for success with weekend events.
Use the right tools, making sure the producers and assignment desk editors are fully informed, but do it in a professional way so as not to drive them crazy, and you’ll have a much better shot at getting coverage for your event.