Holding a press event is a tricky thing. It can generate great media coverage and public exposure, but you also run the risk of throwing a “party” and not having any media show up. To obtain TV coverage of your event, you've got to pique the station's interest and make it easy for a reporter or crew to attend. Here's how.
A Media-Alert Strategy
Getting a television crew to your event requires some finesse, and the format of the pitch is different than that of a press release. A media alert is a tool that gives TV producers or assignment desk editors all the information they need to decide whether the event you're holding is of interest to them. Write the media alert in five sections: Who, What, When, Where, and Visuals.
Who: Name your organization and key executives or dignitaries who might be in attendance. Include only those who will be available to speak on camera.
What: What is the announcement or the reason for the event? Include all material you consider news.
When: Make certain to include the date and time of the event and how long it will run. Also include the schedules of any on-camera spokespersons, and if they will be available before the event.
Where: Include an address, directions, and a link for Google Maps or MapQuest. Getting a reporter or a crew to an event can be won or lost by how well you direct them there. And if security personnel will be at the event or venue, make sure they know the media might be coming.
Visuals: TV is a visual medium, so make sure you have something of interest for the cameras to shoot. Talking heads do not make for dynamic press footage, of course. Make an effort to have demos, graphs, and lots of people around, so the camera crew will have something other than an executive in a suit to shoot.
To get a television crew to your event, follow these instructions precisely to ensure the highest level of communication possible without annoying the producers and assignment editors.
Send the media alert two weeks and one week prior to the event. Then send it to them each of the three days just before the event. The reason for this is that there are different desk editors on different days and different shifts, and they delete all their e-mails frequently to make room for new alerts.
Two days before the event, call the assignment desks at all the TV stations that you want to cover your event. Ask if they've received your alert-they'll probably say no. That's OK. If it doesn't grab them right away, they'll toss it. Send it again, and then call back immediately and pitch your event. The editor will give you instructions on how to proceed, which usually includes asking you to call the morning of the event.
Call on the morning of your event. By now, the station editors know your event, and they know who you are. If your event is interesting enough for them, they'll tell you. If your event is on a Saturday or Sunday, please be advised that most TV stations have only one crew on duty on the weekends. They'll be stretched thin, so you reduce your chances for success with weekend events.
Use the right tools, making sure the producers and assignment desk editors are fully informed, but do it in a professional way so as not to drive them crazy. That way, you'll have a much better shot at getting coverage for your event.
Marsha Friedman is a 20-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides publicity services. She also hosts a national weekly radio talk show, “The Family Round Table.”