If you’re trying to get the word out, you need to drill into what the value of your event is. Especially if you’re going to be pitching to get media coverage for an event.
That might sound simplistic and you may say, “that’s easy, people should attend my conference because they will learn insights from the world’s best marketers!”
Trust me when I say, every marketing conference says that. You need to go deeper to figure out your conference’s purpose when you’re trying to get media coverage for an event:
- Why are you running this conference?
- What do you want to achieve?
- What do you want your attendees to experience?
- How will your event be unique?
- What is the theme of the conference?
- Why did you pick that theme?
You might need a whole week to figure out the answers to these questions, or maybe longer. This is a process that you can’t rush. You need to be very clear on the mission of your conference and when you have established it, you can go about pitching your idea to media outlets.
Manage Your Expectations
There is no harm in aiming for tier one media but I’d also manage your expectations, and the team’s expectations. A better approach is the long game. Reach out to; blogs, trade publications and niche podcasts with a view to building your profile year over year.
If your area is marketing, try to get more specific with the type of outlet. Your choice of speakers and topics will guide you with this. Check out what outlets your speakers have been covered by in the past as well as competitor conferences.
A journalist friend of a tier one paper told me, “I always search online for what stories have been written about them, it makes it more appealing if they have been covered before.”
It goes without saying that your conference goal should be interesting to the audience of the media outlet that you will be reaching out to. To sweeten the offer, maybe one of your speakers would be willing to do an interview as part of the media coverage for an event of yours. Outlets are always on the lookout for good material from well-known speakers.
Be Specific About Your Relevance
Everyone has a different approach when it comes to outreach. Personally, I begin by asking if they welcome topic suggestions or guest suggestions. That starts the conversation (this happens via email or on Twitter). It just feels more natural than shouting, “hey you should interview me because!”
According to research by iScribblers, 70% of journalists spend less than one minute on each message they open, so making your approach personal could be what makes yours stand out from the crowd.
I appreciate that some outlets don’t have the time for that, so they want you to pitch straight away, but this way yields the most rewards for me. If they get back to you they usually ask for what you have in mind. At that point I introduce myself and what my company/conference is about and then suggest an angle for them.
I recently came across a good thread on Twitter started by Darragh Doyle, head of communications for Epic Museum. He simply asked for advice on how to write a press release. He got great responses from journalists and PR professionals. You can check it out here…
Media – your advice re press releases please.— Darragh Doyle (@darraghdoyle) May 28, 2019
– Should the text be in the body of the email?
– Should there be a word doc or pdf with the same text attached?
– What are simple but obvious things people forget to add?
Any advice with this appreciated, thank you. #journorequest pic.twitter.com/Y6SIYGVHsd
Do Your Research
Researching who to approach can take time but it’s more fruitful when you have a clear idea of what your conference can offer an attendee. Read and listen to the podcasts that you will approach. It’s always good to reference their specific work when you email them.
Keep track of the outreach. I use Google Sheets. If they haven’t responded to me after a week, I send a friendly follow-up and then I leave it at that. I don’t want to get a reputation as someone that hounds folks. That can turn people off and do me no favours in the long run.
Keep Your Chin Up
Getting media coverage for an event can be demoralising work at times as you’re essentially throwing stuff out there and hoping that it sticks. This is why storytelling is important; your conference needs to be a page turner, and you’re the writer. If you believe that it’s a great tale then others will too.
If you’re struggling for an angle, chat to colleagues or much better still, reach out to a journalist and/or PR professional and offer them a coffee to give you some advice. People are usually really great at giving up some of their time to help you navigate the world of publicity.
Best of luck with it all, and don’t get too beat up if you don’t get coverage, you should see it as an ongoing project.
Annie is our events and communications manager at Tito.