Let’s face it. You could plan the greatest event in the world, but if no one knows about it, you might as well be twiddling your thumbs in your office with your feet up on your desk eating bonbons.
Even with do-it-yourself marketing options like Facebook, blogging and Twitter, you still absolutely must create a relationship with your local media in order to get the word out.
Getting the media’s attention can be tough, particularly in a large community with lots of competition. The key is creating an irresistible event, making personal contact with the press and showering them with attention they won’t get anywhere else.
Once they meet you, you will be surprised how your press releases start getting the attention you’ve always wanted them to get!
Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Do not send a letter or email to a general address! Take the time to call each newspaper, radio station and television station to find out who covers the cultural scene in your community. Address all of your correspondence to that person directly. Ask your local Convention and Visitors Bureau for help creating your media contact list.
2. Find out what format they prefer to receive their information. Many prefer email press releases so they can streamline their writing by cutting and pasting directly from your document. But others prefer a hard copy by mail or fax.
3. Choose a major event to coincide with your Press Day. Maybe you have an important exhibition opening coming up, or a significant anniversary to celebrate. There has to be a reason for the media to come. You probably won’t be successful if you just want to “show them around.”
4. Create a special opportunity for the press that the average person can’t get. Maybe it is access to your professional staff for a Q&A session. Or a behind-the-scenes tour. Give them the “first look” at what you’re doing – open a gallery that has been closed in preparation for your new exhibit just for them. Show off a new addition or renovation for the first time. Make it special and you will get them to come.
5. Timing is important. Plan your Press Day for later in the afternoon and serve light refreshments. Many organizations have morning meetings and deadlines to meet. Afternoon is usually a more flexible time.
6. Create a press packet for each member. Include as much information as possible about your venue, including rack cards, brochures, membership information, invitations, flyers, calendars, etc. Include press releases for the next few months of events and programs. You might want to include a list of story ideas based on your collection, exhibitions, education programs, and special events, or an interesting story on a local history topic. Don’t forget to include a name tag that lists what media outlet they represent.
7. TALK TO THEM! And take notes. Ask what kinds of stories they are looking for and when their deadlines are. Find out if they will print photos you submit or if they prefer to send out their own photographer. Ask if they have any stories in the works that you might be able to help with. Network, network, network!