You’ve spent months, maybe even years, planning your next big conference or event. It’s one of your organization’s most significant milestones this year and also, a big opportunity to generate earned press coverage.
If you want to leverage the media and PR opportunities that trade shows and events provide, make sure to do these three things.
In the past six years, my agency has managed the public relations for more than 80 conferences and events hosted by Experience Grand Rapids. While the majority of these meetings and groups hosted were from outside of the Grand Rapids region, they all received significant media coverage. What’s our big secret? Think local.
No matter what your event is about or who is invited to attend (many of the conferences we pitch to the media are closed to the public), there are two things that make your conference or trade show especially newsworthy to the local media.
The first is your local impact. Does your event bring thousands of people to the area? The positive impact this can have on hotels, restaurants and the local economy is significant.
Second, why did you choose to host your event in this particular host city? Is the city a leader in green initiatives, fitting perfectly with your theme of renewable energy? Or is the city an rising region for start-ups, making it a great fit for your innovation conference? Maybe your host destination was ideal simply because it has a great climate, high safety ranking and family-friendly attractions. Whatever your reasons, the local media would probably find these interesting so include this in a press release quote or media advisory.
Make it Easy
If you want local journalists, influencers or reporters to cover your event, you need to make it easy for them. If PR isn’t your direct responsibility, share these suggestions with the person on your team who handles it — they’ll thank you!
Send out a press release to local media 3-4 weeks before your event and let them know how to get a free press pass or how to get on the media list. There is nothing worse to a reporter than having to track down the right contact to find out if they can attend an event.
Even better, pitch specific reporters who cover your industry and personally invite them to attend sessions that resonate with their beat. The personal touch requires a bit more research but will go far in developing local press relationships quickly.
Help reporters identify the most newsworthy, visual or exciting opportunities available at your event. Conference brochures and agendas can be lengthy and daunting for an outsider to sift through.
If a local TV news station wants to cover your conference, they will need to record footage of something visually interesting. Identify these significant media opportunities in your press release and don’t make a reporter search your entire agenda or website.
Print media will generally expect access to the best interviews possible. This would include the organizer, a key speaker or potentially attendees. Have a team member identify these people for reporters, making their jobs easier and therefore, more likely to get coverage.
Designate one person on your team to be the media contact so they can answer any questions or assist media onsite at the event.
The conferences and events that get the most press typically have a few things going for them (outside of having a marketing/PR firm doing it for them). The common denominator to the 80-plus events we’ve promoted over the past few years is this: capacity for storytelling.
Consider what stories your event can tell. Sometimes these stories are found in the speakers or experts involved. Other times it is in your exhibitors or attendees. Does it attract a significant number of people? Why? What is the purpose of the event in the first place and what impact will it have in the future?
Once you have identified potential stories, now consider how you can share them. The more content you can create in advance to tell those stories, the easier it will be for the local media to cover it. Write up a blog or create a video about your upcoming conference, or suggest that your marcom, product marketing or content teams do so. Highlight testimonial or success stories about the impact the event has had on the organizations, communities or people involved. Add it to your digital press kit that is sent to the media.
As you approach your next event, make sure to think local, invite the media and make it easy for them and share your own stories. You’ll find more earned press opportunities and thought leadership for your organization than ever before.