MY phone has been ringing lately with plenty of media calls. They range from the serious — a business reporter from USA Today asking about the size of the special event market — to the frivolous — a “reality show” producer looking for outrageous “sweet 16” parties.
The public is growing ever more aware of — and ever more interested in — the world of special events. If you're an event pro, you soon may be faced with a reporter's call asking about your experience and insights. How do you respond?
If you've never received one before, getting a call from a reporter can be a little scary. You could hide behind your voice mail. But if you pass on that call, you pass up the chance to put yourself and your work in front of the public. Being quoted by the press instantly positions you as an expert in events, winning credibility that benefits you in many ways. Having a high public profile helps other event professionals find you when they need you. If you're an in-house event pro, you boost your credibility not only within your own organization, but with future employers as well.
So, how do you make sure that you earn 15 minutes of fame versus infamy? My friends in public relations offer some basic rules:
Rule 1: If a reporter calls and you're not ready to answer his or her questions, you can always ask for a little time to prep yourself before you call back. Take that time to think about the key points you want to make. And then …
Rule 2: Call back. This may sound silly, but I can't tell you how many times I've called a potential source for a story and given them my deadline, only to get a response from my would-be inter-viewee weeks later — and too much later to be included.
Rule 3: To be quoted, be quotable. Good reporters strive to write articles that are vivid, precise and original. You hold the key for them to do this. Try to quantify facts about your business, if you can. A reporter is much more likely to quote you if you can say that your wedding business is up 15 percent over last year rather than it's up “a lot.”
Rule 4: Once your story appears, don't expect every detail you mentioned to be included. We live in a world of news bites, so if you get a sentence or two, be grateful.
Rule 5: Get ready for more calls from reporters. Being quoted in the media has an interesting way of building upon itself. Reporters read media besides their own outlets (in fact, most are media junkies). Once they recognize you as a reliable source in other outlets, they'll come calling on you.