PR is a vital part of a successful event strategy. Local publications target your city’s community, reaching prime potential event-goers. However, if you don’t approach PR the right way, you will end up wasting time without getting any press coverage.
With so many events out there, it can be hard to make your one stand out, and in order to rise above the noise in journalists’ inboxes, you need to make it clear why the public will care about your event’s story.
Use these 10 simple steps to make your event PR efforts drive interest and attendance.
1. List the basic details of your event
The goal of event PR is to generate interest and registrations for your event. Make it easy for a press piece to turn readers into attendees by providing journalists with all the key information up front.
Here’s a checklist to get you started:
- Name of the event
- Where to reserve or buy tickets
- Highlights of the event
2. Write your press pitch
As an experienced event organiser, you already have the skills to write a good press pitch because it builds on the same foundation as writing a strong sponsorship pitch. That said, while sponsors might care about hard numbers around your event, the press are more interested in the story behind the numbers.
Here are some key questions you should address in your pitch:
- What is the value of the information to the journalist or editor you are contacting?
- Why would their readership be interested in your event?
- How does this event fit with the style or focus of their publication?
3. Organise your event PR research
To maximise the ROI of your PR efforts, begin by researching which types of press are most likely to attend and cover your event. Once you have a shortlist of publications to target, identify the sections, writers, and editors who focus on the topics related to your event. Lastly, consolidate their contact information. Organise all of this research into your event media list.
Key information to capture on your media list:
- Publication name
- Relevant section
- Contact name (writer or editor)
- Contact information (email, phone number, Twitter handle)
- Area of focus (adjust your pitch to suit each publication)
It’s also a good idea to leave at least one blank status column in your spreadsheet next to each contact’s name so you can track the progress of your outreach.
4. Include local listings and event calendars
Remember to include local publications, relevant listings and event calendars in your PR research. These are often free and require minimal effort. Deciding on where to promote your event can take time but it is worth it to find the right audience.
Search terms to find relevant index publishers:
- Your event type
- Your event city
- Week or month + city
- Related interests, like “networking opportunities”
- Industry served by event
5. Leverage event headliners for PR
Once you have done the hard work of sourcing great speakers and talent for your event, include them in your pitch to maximise their influence in securing press coverage. You could also use your line-up to expand your media list by identifying journalists who have interviewed your performers before.
Expand your media list based on talent:
- Can you get coverage for the performances at your event?
- Is there a different type of publication who would be interested in covering your speakers?
6. Start event PR outreach early
All publications have a lead time, so you have the best chance of success by giving them as much advance notice as possible. Aim for at least one month before your event to target online publications, and at least two months before your event to target print publications. The larger the publication, the more lead time they generally require.
7. Create compelling PR assets
The press wants to engage its readership. One way to help them is by offering visuals of your event. This benefits you because it makes publications more likely to cover your event, and pictures can help convert readers into attendees.
Ways to create visual event PR assets:
- Ask your speakers and performers for promotional pictures
- Use pictures from previous events
- Hire a professional photographer for your event (this will help for future event PR)
- Create an infographic summarising data from your event
8. Choose an event hashtag
Social media is an important part of modern event promotion. Define an event hashtag, and use it consistently. If you have the resources, you can also build out a social media strategy for your event that will yield long-term results. If your hashtag builds traction, it can be a great point of credibility that your story will register with readers.
9. Track your event PR efforts
While it sounds simple, many event organisers fail to secure press coverage because they don’t follow up. Keep track of your outreach in blank columns on the media list you already created.
Key information to track:
- Outreach date
- Response? (yes/no)
- Follow-up date
- Response? (yes/no)
- Press requests
10. Invite press to your event
Great event PR does not stop when the event begins. Build a long-term relationship with press contacts by giving them complimentary access to your event. They may provide live coverage or introduce you to more contacts in their field.
Ready to build your communication plan beyond basic outreach? Learn how to build a communication strategy that engages your attendees before, during, and after your event.