A comprehensive marketing plan goes beyond brochures and e-mails sent to your potential attendees or exhibitors. Connecting with the media is another crucial facet of any successful communication plan. To use the press to “spread the word” about your meeting or event, you need to think of press releases as a marketing tool.
Whether you make a general announcement of meeting dates and location, broadcast a call for abstract submissions, or publicize specific newsworthy topics that will be presented at the meeting, media outlets can help your organization reach journalists and industry publications, investors, new exhibitors and attendees in related and untapped fields, and other key audiences that might be missed in mailings and other communications.
An announcement picked up by a news source can put your meeting and exhibition on a company CEO's radar screen, bringing you a new exhibitor. A whole new target audience of attendees might be reached when there is an announcement of your meeting in a related industry journal.
Build Your Campaign
There are two ways to build your list of press contacts — build the list yourself or use an outside service to assist in creating and maintaining your media list. To do it yourself, you can research press outlets via the Internet and by using media directories at a good reference library. Industry leaders that publish media directories include such companies such as Bacon's and Burrelles-Luce. However, depending on how large your distribution list is, developing and maintaining an accurate press list can be very time-consuming, so it may be more effective to use an outside service that will not only help maintain your list, but will also distribute your press releases for a fee. You may purchase printed media directories, CD directories, or pay such organizations an annual fee for a Web-based subscription, which gives you access to up-to-the-minute media contact information and a host of other tools for managing your press relations and results.
Write With Care
Finally, you want to be sure and write an effective release that is worded professionally and succinctly so that your message is easily interpreted. As a rule, there is a general format that all press releases follow. An Internet search for “How to write an effective press release” will offer you literally millions of Web sites that include examples of good press releases and writing tips.
Whether you start out small, or send your message around the world, be persistent and plan for the long-term. No matter what your approach, you are certain to reap the benefits when you tap the media to help promote your event.
Jane Dahlroth, CEM, CMP, a 27-year meeting industry veteran, is vice president for JRDaggett & Associates, a meeting and exhibit management and consulting firm with offices in Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Kathy Beal, MBA, a medical marketing and public relations consultant for nonprofit organizations, based in Boston, for suggesting the Web site resources.
Check out these Web sites to learn more about communications opportunities available to event marketers.
Bacon's directories: www.bacons.com
Vocus (and a free demo): www.vocus.com
PR Newswire MEDIAtlas: www.prnewswire.com
Bulldog Reporter's Media List Builder: https://listbuilder.bulldogreporter.com