So you want to get your event covered or have your story told to the public. But how do you go about it? What will make the media want to cover you or your event? It’s all in the marketing.
The media will cover just about any event if there’s a good hook to it. Hooks are the things that attract the media to cover a story. News media looking for interesting hooks, such as famous or important people, an odd or colorful occasion, or a timely event. If the story involves certain people, places, or things, it can be newsworthy. Even if your story doesn’t directly seem to have that newsworthy quality, you can try to pitch the story in a way so that it seems more newsworthy.
Newsworthiness is determined by a few factors, which are basically the same as the five W’s and the H.
Who—Make sure you tell the media who will be at your event; who is sponsoring your event and who your event benefits. If your story is about needy girl scouts who want to fund a trip, you have a good chance of getting coverage, since kids are media darlings and the more kids, the better. Also, if someone noteworthy will be attending your event, mention that individual. The Mayor’s going to host your charity dinner? Plug that name. And if the church bake sale will benefit a sick kid, then plug the beneficiary.
What—Tell the media all what they can expect if they choose to cover your story. Are there great visuals that television stations won’t want to miss, such as a truckload of snow being made for kids to frolic in California? Are there other happenings that coincide with this event/person? And what would the media miss-out on if they don’t cover it? Make sure they are aware of what will be happening. Be sure to specify what the best time is for coverage.
Where—Be as specific as possible when noting a place of the story. Include a map if necessary, but don’t neglect this detail. There’s a big difference between saying that the press conference will be at Washington Park and saying that the conference will be held at Washington Park on the corner of Main Street and Broadway near the ABC gas station. The media will appreciate your attention to detail and they will be less likely to get lost on the way to your event.
When—Include details of what time and what place your event/story will happen. A press release without a time and date is worthless. A story planner will have to call you to find out more information and they may be turned off by your inefficiency in writing the release. If you don’t include important info, such as a date and time, then why should the editor care about that important info? Don’t overlook the obvious—be sure to include all the times, places, and dates.
Why—What is the purpose of your story? Are you hoping to accomplish a goal, like raise funds for a charity or raise awareness for an illness? The “why” part is what reaches out to the media’s audience. If the reason behind a story has far-reaching effects, chances are the media will cover it. If the “why” affects one person, then maybe the readers, viewers, and listeners of the media will also be affected.
How—Tell the media how your story will be told. Are you posting signs all over a neighborhood in protest of a local environmental hazard? Will you have large groups of people chanting union slogans at a factory strike? Will the party’s guest of honor ride in to the party on a horse? Make the technicalities of your story known and let the intricacies of your event shine through.
Keep in mind that a press release and press advisory should tell your story—don’t leave anything important out. And don’t hound the assignment editors, city planners and arts editors incessantly. It will only make them shy away from covering your event. While it’s fine to check in and make sure that you’re press release was received, it can only hurt your coverage if you annoy the person whom you want to cover your story. Finally, don’t forget to leave a contact number for the day of the event.
This can be crucial. If a news organization decides to cover your story at the last minute and they only have your office number and it’s Saturday, then you’re out of luck. It’s ideal to have a pager and/or cell phone so that you can be contacted in case the press needs to speak to you.