Events Offer Three Bites at the Publicity Apple

Stories that are event-based–with a specific time and a specific place–offer three bites at the publicity apple.

If you’re settling for anything less, then you need to work on growing your PR appetite. Not to get too technical, but I like to refer to these bites (or “phases”) as:

1. Before. 2. During. 3. After.

Before: This is a preview that promotes the event, to encourage attendance by media and/or interested individuals. It also lays the groundwork for a follow-up.

Here is an example from this week’s media outreach by Inside Edge PR, on behalf of DivorceIllinois and its Feb. 4 meeting in Oak Brook.

During: This is when you can secure coverage of the event itself, via the presence of one or more media representatives. Serving as an “In-House Journalist,” Inside Edge PR often plays the role of pool reporter for those media outelts unable, or uninterested, in attending.

After: This is typically a news release, often accompanied by video and photographs, that highlights significant developments at the event. It represents an opportunity to break new ground, so should go beyond a re-hash of the preview with a mere revision of verb tenses.

All along the way, too, you should be buzzing things up on social media, through communication portals such as YouTube and Facebook.

Inside Edge PR’s website has a bevy of other resources to help you secure media coverage, including “To Get the PR You Want, Focus First on The Media’s Need.’

Contacting The Media: Your First Goal

Do you have 30 seconds? Is this a good time for you to read my blog?

Silly questions, I know. Why don’t I just get to the point?

OK, here it is: When dialing up someone in the media, if you want to communicate with power and persuasion, then make sure they have at least 30 seconds to hear why you’re calling.

How I typically start: “Are you on deadline, or is this a good time to talk for 30 seconds?”

Such a courtesy signals that I know their world—and I am not about to waste their time. This simple question alone helps me stand apart from the publicist pack, many of whom are self-absorbed and long-winded, not even bothering to check if the journalist has time to talk.

After gaining initial buy-in (and be ready for some wiseguys to say, “OK, the clock’s going…now!”), then it’s crucial that you make good on the promise.

Succinctly and confidently explain why you are calling, and be ready to get off the phone within the time you’ve allotted. When I say 30 seconds, I mean it–I avoid saying “a minute” because people don’t literally mean 60 seconds when they trot out that phrase, and I want to be abundantly clear that I’ll be brief.

The phone call’s purpose is not to sell the journalist on pursuing a story, anyway. It’s simply to warm ’em up to the idea that the e-mail you’re about to send is worth serious consideration instead of the reflexive tap of the DELETE key.

Win that battle, keep the dialogue going, be sure to have compelling content in that e-mail, and at least you’ll have a fighting chance to get your story told.

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