In the event industry, standing out from competition can help make or break your business.
While improving client service, staying on top of the latest trends, and investing in marketing your brand are important help you grow your business, if your goal is to rise to the top and become a name brand, nothing is more effective than grabbing the attention of the media. (Just look at the U.S. presidential debates.)
Getting featured in reputable print, online and broadcast media can not only help position your brand above the rest, but also widen your reach, find new clients, build up your reputation, locate strategic partners, and even attract investors. The benefits are truly endless. But how does one grab the attention of those top editors and producers?
Those of us who work in media relations don’t often like to admit it, but with time and resources, business owners can easily learn strategic ways to work with the media. So if you’re looking to get publicity for your event business, here are six basic principles to follow.
1. Determine your goals
Before spending time and resources on reaching out to the media, it is essential to establish concrete goals for your media campaign. Drill down to what types of clients you’re hoping to reach, and concentrate on pitching your business to the media that targets those exact customers. The better you understand your target audience and the target audience of the magazine, TV station or blog you’re pitching, the better the chances you will be featured in the right places and see results from your campaign.
2. Tell your story
To be featured in the media, you need to tell a story. Media relations is 50 percent storytelling and 50 percent relationships (which I’ll get to soon). Your goal is to determine and relay a story that makes your business catch the eye of the media.
Remember that a story isn’t your regular marketing or sales pitch. Journalists aren’t there to sell your services--their job is to tell their readers something new, interesting and unique. So don’t tell them about your website update or new marketing campaign. Share a valuable news announcement, a growing trend or a human interest story that will grab them and their readers. If you’re stuck, try asking your best customers what attracted them to your company--that can be a great fodder for story ideas.
3. Determine your expertise
Don’t overlook your personal expertise when you’re pitching to the media. Your new venue, business concept, product or service can make for a great initial story idea for the media, but subject matter expertise is valuable because it has a longer recurring shelf life.
Remember that journalists are often not subject matter experts and rely on savvy business leaders like you to inform them. You have a treasure trove of information that only you possess because you’re on the ground seeing data, interesting trends, and what customers are looking for. All of that can be converted into story ideas to pitch to journalists. If you aren’t afraid of writing, you can even offer to write a guest post (like this one) to relevant media.
4. Invest in relationships
As I mentioned earlier, 50 percent of successful media relations is relationships.
Once you determine your target audience and potential story ideas, invest time in learning more about the prospective journalists you’re pitching. Read what they write. Never pitch blindly. No matter how great your story idea is, if you’re sending it to the wrong person or a publication that doesn’t cover what you’re pitching, it will get rejected or ignored.
When you find a reporter who is interested in your story, don’t treat it as a one-time contact. Invest in building a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship by becoming a helpful source for the journalists. That way, they will keep coming back to you and featuring you for years.
5. Pitch wisely
Today, most pitches to the media are done by email, and crafting an effective email pitch can make a huge difference in whether or not the editor responds and decides to feature your brand.
Make your pitches well-targeted (that’s where your research comes in), informative, courteous, and very concise.
Don’t write an essay about your brand. No one gets more barraged by emails than journalists these days, so make your point quickly. If you don’t hear back right away, don’t take it personally, but do follow up after a few days or a week to make sure they saw your email. Following up is an important step that can often mean the difference between getting featured and not getting anything.
6. Stay on top of it
When a journalist gets back to you, your job is to respond promptly. There is nothing journalists hate more than slow or lack of responses. It’s sort of like being invited for cake and champagne and taking a week to say maybe. Don’t be that guy.
Even if you don’t have all the information they asked for, acknowledge that you received their request and will respond fully by a certain time. Journalists work with tight deadlines and quick turn-around times, so be specific when they should expect your full response.
With these six tips you should be able to create a media campaign that results in some coverage of your business. Remember, media relations is a learning process--the more you try it, the better you’ll understand how to effectively work with the media.
Sasha Vasilyuk is an award-winning journalist and the CEO of I Do PR, a strategic public relations agency that helps wedding and lifestyle brands connect with the media. She is the author of soon-to-be-released book “Build Buzz for Your Wedding Business.”