- Create a press release
No one will write about your event if they don't know what it's about. The first step is to figure out your press release. This is your simple, one page basic marketing tool that gives the media the "Who/What/Where/When and Whys" of why they should run a story on your cause or event. Here's a great "how to" write one with tips.
It's always a good idea to get feedback on the writing before putting your Press Release out there.
- Develop a media outreach list
Start an excel sheet or google doc/sheet of all the local journalists, TV or radio hosts, newspapers, magazines, television programs, radio stations, blogs, etc that could potentially cover or advertise your event.
For real go getters: get on the phone and call the news desks at the local newspapers, television and radio stations you want to target. Find out if they prefer to receive information by fax or e-mail. Get the name and contact info of the person(s) who cover either your issue directly AND local events, nonprofit work, political, etc.
Your goal is to get a pre-event story AND, if they attend, a post event story.
- Get Local Journalists Interested
If you don't know a particular journalist, see if a friend or someone on your team knows someone who does, as personal contact is always the best. You will need the completed press release in hand before contacting them. It might take a sales job to convince them the importance of your event or effort so figure out persuasive, targeted-to-their interest talking points.
If they agree to run a story, you need to follow up with a press release containing all the details of the event and provide contact information so they can easily get ahold of you. Most of them will already have story ideas in mind, or are looking for a particular angle such as human interest, the environment, cooking, farming, schools, etc.
Be creative in thinking up ways to “hook” the media outlets into covering your event that focuses on their area of Interest or "beat."
- Frame the Story for the Media
Figure out how this issue impacts the community economically, socially, healthwise, etc
- David vs. Goliath issues
- Human Interest
- An urgent issue or disaster
- Fun visuals
- New, big time celebrity or group joins your issue
- Bringing together disparate groups to work together on an issue
- Someone locally is doing something that's Important globally
- Have a Knowledgable Media Point Person
You need to have a knowledgeable contact person for the event who is comfortable talking with the press and being photographed and/or filmed. You might want to assemble a press kit for each media representative that contains additional information on the issue, any pictures, flyers, posters, etc, especially if they are attending the event and want to write a story after it's over.
- Local and regional paid-for and free newspapers often have community pages which list upcoming events for free. Be sure that you register them early…like at least a month before the event as some of them have extended cut off dates and you don't want to miss a free opportunity to get the word out there!
- Timing- Media notification should ideally begin at least 6 weeks if not a few months in advance, depending on the outlet. At the very least, try to give the media outlets two weeks notice of an upcoming event.
- Another good way to get media coverage is by getting a big name or local celebrity to support your event. Media loves names. Contact any local celebrities (ie, TV weather man to sports heroes, stars, politicians, CSA farmers, etc) and ask them to join your event. If they can’t be there, ask if they can send a message of support. Be sure to ask in advance if you can pass this message and a pic to the media.
For Real Go-Getters /Advanced Marketer Tips
- Have a press release post event to send out to any media that may have wanted to attend but could not be there. The release should describe what happened, how many people came, and how much money was raised if that was a goal.
- Make sure you have a good photographer to take plenty of pictures then send just one or two of the best shots to news desks as soon as possible after the event. The best pictures tell a story, have just a few people, are closeups and look natural instead of posed.