Guest blogger Hailey Vincent is currently working as the public relations associate at BBR Creative, a marketing agency with offices in Lafayette and Baton Rouge. She graduated from LSU in December 2013 with a dual degree in French and in mass communication with a concentration in public relations. Vincent also manages the internship program at BBR. To connect with her about internship opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing media outreach for events can be quite a daunting task. I’ve broken down a tried-and-true approach into three main task groups: before, during and after the event.
Before the Event (Months Before)
- Identify spokespeople (train if necessary).
- If you work with a nonprofit, schedule morning show media appearances a few months in advance leading up to the event. Be sure to send over a basic info sheet including things like event name, date/time, your organization name, spokesperson name, ticket info and logo/graphics. Also write and send a sample Q&A to both your spokesperson and the station, pointing out that the station is welcome to use it if they’d like, but that they could of course ask their own questions as well (don’t want to overstep your PR boundaries!).
- If spokespeople do appear on television, it’s go to check each station’s website in the days following the appearance to share the video from your organization’s social media pages.
- Write and send an event announcement press release detailing the date, time, ticket purchasing information, and the purpose of the event.
- Most news sites have community calendars, to which the public can submit events to be posted. Make a list of these calendars, then add your event to each one.
- Follow-up on your press release with calls to the media to ensure that they’ve received the release. You don’t need to make a hard sell on this call, but it might still be worth mentioning one cool thing about the event that makes it interesting to give them something to latch onto/remember.
- Pull together media kits, complete with a fact sheet, your contact information, photos of spokespeople/important event guests (speakers, awardees, etc.), and a copy of the announcement release.
- 3-4 days before your event, send a media advisory to all relevant media in your area. Be sure to include a timeframe in which you’d like to arrange interviews, and notify your spokespeople of this timeframe.
- Follow-up on the advisory with calls the day after you send, asking if they received it and if the event is on their calendar.
- Follow-up with those who expressed interest in attending the day before the event to see if they plan on sending someone to cover the event, and if they’ve assigned a specific reporter.
- Have a list of the reporter’s names and station numbers available for the morning of the event.
During the Event
- Make any necessary last minute calls to media to solidify your list of media guests.
- PRO TIP: Keep your head “on a swivel” — know where journalists and spokespeople are at all times, and be ready to pull your spokespeople when the journalists are ready to interview.
- Don’t forget your media kits, and give those to media as they arrive.
- In most cases, the media will show up without knowing much about the event (they’re swimming in a sea of deadlines!). Be prepared to answer questions about the event and keynote speaker, and to give them an “in a nutshell” version of the event and what they might want to interview spokespeople about. This is a great opportunity to build a relationship with the media. Get their name and strike up a conversation!
- Be sure someone from your team snaps a few good photos so that you’ll have options when sending out the post-event press release.
- If a journalist asks for any extra assets that you haven’t provided, be sure to send it to them first thing when you return to your desk that day.
After the Event
- The day after the event, send your post-event press release to relevant media that haven’t yet published a story. Be sure to attach photos with captions that clearly identify the people in the pictures.
- Follow up with these journalists with a call to ensure that they’ve received your email.
- Gather all media clips and document them. We recommend saving physical and digital copies of the clips.