Event Publicity & Media Relations

Event marketers sometimes forget that they have one of the coolest jobs on the planet. Developing strong relationships with local news producers, editors, on-air talent, and journalists is pretty natural when you are constantly inviting them to fun events. Nevertheless, Garnering publicity for your event by way of the media is something you need to invest time into.

Maintaining Your Local Media List

It is important to maintain an up to date local media list that covers anyone in your market that may be able to help spread the word about your events. Many artists/promoters will ask you to share your media list with them, so you need to be prepared. Here’s a list of folks you want to include:

  • TV
    • Morning Show Producers
    • News Producers
    • Assignment Desk
    • On-Air Talent / Reporters
  • Radio
    • Program Directors
    • Promotion Directors
    • On-Air Talent
  • Print
    • Editors / Publishers
    • Writers
    • Freelance Writers
  • Online
    • Publishers
    • Writers
    • Freelance Writers
    • Mommy Blogs
    • Music Blogs
    • Local Influencers

Unfortunately, many of these people don’t have the opportunity to stay in one place for too long. It’s important to revisit your list frequently to keep it up to date. Make sure you touch base with them even when you don’t have a new show/event to pitch them. Having solid relationships with local media can be very valuable.

Event Announcements

Each event has a unique target audience, so consider which media outlets reach the people you are trying to attract. Once you define your target publications/outlets it is important to take some time to consider how you can craft an announcement that appeals to each individual on your list. These people are busy, so you need to make it easy for them. Pitch them with ideas for stories, in-studio appearances, promotions, and other unique opportunities that they would be excited to cover.

Here are a few ideas for gaining attention for your event announcement:

  • Press Release: Sure, you need to send a press release to your media list for each event. However, This shouldn’t be where it ends. Follow up with your top prospects to pitch them on unique opportunities they will be excited about.
  • Press Conference: These are overkill for most events, but some artists require it. Nearly every boxing event requires them. Try to only schedule these when you have something very significant to announce.
  • Give an outlet the ability to break the announcement: Any sort of exclusivity you can offer is huge for the station that receives the opportunity. Be mindful that you may rub other outlets the wrong way when doing this.
  • Hand Deliver Announcement: Deliver the press release to your contacts personally along with cookies, ice-cream, a huge cutout, or anything else that may make an impression.

Pre-Event Coverage

In most cases, 50% of your tickets will be sold within 2-weeks of the event (the closeout). While earning media coverage prior to that certainly can’t hurt, you should focus your efforts on the closeout period once your event has been announced.

Here are a few ideas to gain additional coverage:

  • Event Previews: Send media alerts to remind the members of the media that your event is approaching. Some (mainly print & online) will be willing to simply re-write their article that announced the event to serve as an event preview.
  • Pitch stories about the experience: Many events offer unique experiences in addition to the main attraction. Pitch stories to the media to help convey information about food vendors, the fans that camp out for days prior the the show, the unique merch items, a unique technology the event is using, etc.. Be creative & think about who you are pitching the story to.
  • Interviews: If the artist/event spokesperson is willing to give interviews then most outlets will be more than happy to create a piece of content for your event.
  • In-Studio / Acoustic Performances: Radio stations love to have exclusive mini-sets prior to the event. Record Stores & Morning Shows are known for doing these as well.
  • Load-In: If you find yourself stopping what you are doing to watch a unique load-in then you should probably see if you can invite some media to experience that same thing. Dirt loading in for a monster truck show, the building being turned over from basketball to ice, a stage being built in a local park, etc..
  • Morning PR: If you have ever worked with a family show at an Arena you know these mornings all too well. Most TV morning shows have one dedicated reporter that covers different aspects of one story. Invite those folks down to your event during the early morning hours & let them interview different people, watch load-in, etc..
  • Charitable Events: Some touring entities are known for their dedication to Make-A-Wish, Children’s Hospitals, Seacrest Studios, etc.. Doing a good act is good karma for your event and a very easy story to pitch to your local media.

Credentials & Media Requests

Most events/artists have tour publicists that will be working simultaneously to gain coverage. These are the people that give final approval for credential requests. Make sure that you pass any requests on to these people before granting an approval. Many artists have very specific guidelines for coverage & are sensitive to which outlets are getting the best access.

  • Review Requests: Artists put some of the best seats on hold for reviewers from local print/online publications. In most cases these are single seats. Sometimes you will find an event that is willing to give a +1 so they can bring a guest.

  • Photo Passes: Professional cameras are typically not permitted at events. 99% of events allow approved professional photographers to shoot the first three songs of an artists set. Some events are more strict than others. Plan on having someone on your team available to check-in photographers, hand them their passes, have them sign photo releases/waivers, and escort them in/out of the show. Some events/artists may be OK with you allowing the photographer to ‘check’ their camera in your offices & watch the rest of the show. Most events/artists ask that the photographer leaves after the third song unless they have a ticket.

  • Video: Video is the most restricted credential at events, mainly due to licensing issues. At large events the photographers may be asked to plug in their camera to a mult box & simply record the first :60 of a show from their video switcher. It’s important to work closely with the tour publicist to find out what their policies are.

  • Backstage Pass Requests: In all honesty, these requests are normally complete spam. Certain genres/events are known for a flood of these requests. Kindly pass these on to the publicist or tour manager, but just know that they are rarely approved.

Keep a spreadsheet with all of your media requests. Some tour publicists prefer that you batch your requests.. Save them all & send everything for approval at once. Most decisions are not made until the 2 weeks leading up to the event anyway, so it’s a good way to make sure no requests are lost.

Tie a credential to pre-show coverage

Many events require that an outlet posts some sort of preview / interview / content in advance of the show before approving a credential request. This is a popular policy for online outlets to help define which outlets are serious about the event. The last thing you want is a bunch of hobbyists with wordpress blogs to get a photo pass & never post the photo set.

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