Pitching the media is not easy if you don’t know what producers and editors are looking for. It’s all about understanding what draws producers into your story and why their audience will care.
But, if you thought pitching yourself to the media was hard, even harder is pitching an event. There are a million and one events out there at any given time – so what makes yours so special?
The unfortunate truth is no one in the media cares about your event.
As a national television producer with nearly 20 years experience I can say definitively that I can count on one hand the amount of events I’ve actually covered. That’s because most events are self serving – ribbon cuttings and grand openings. What does that do for the viewer or reader? But that doesn’t mean you can’t get your event into the media, it’s all about how you pitch it!
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GET MEDIA ATTENTION FOR YOUR EVENT
Never has this lesson been better proven than with a friend and colleague Heidi Hanna. I’ve known Heidi for years. We met when I booked her as a expert for Fox News Channel when her book, “Stressaholic” was first published.
We stayed in touch and I interviewed her in my book, “Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed”. Heidi is not new to the idea of pitching herself to media, but now that she knows I’m a media strategist she came to me because she was trying to pitch the Association for Applied & Therapeutic Humor Annual Conference.
Between us we brainstormed some ideas and came up with some pitches for how to get the event out there. Heidi’s event ended up being a massive success story – it was covered live on the local news in San Diego!
Given her success I wanted to share the pitching tactics we came up with. Heidi very kindly sat down for a call with me to explain how her event became the talk of the town. You can check it out on YouTube.
On the call we go through some of my top tips for making your event a media hit:
1. Start Early – Heidi started reaching out to producers about 6 months before her event, giving herself time for media interest to grow organically rather than having to push everything at the last minute. Plus she started thinking about what was timely in the news that she could lend her expertise to.
2. Don’t Pitch Your Event First – My key advice to my clients is “be of service”. Instead of pitching producers about your event, how about thinking of ways that your advice can change someone’s life? Producers have to find new topics and experts all the time. So why not make a producers life easier!
Pitch something related to your event, but not actually your event. If you do this like Heidi did (she went on the news to talk about stress and gender) you’ll be front of mind when other related topics pop up. Plus when it is time to talk about your event they’ll be more inclined to listen because you’ve already helped them out and established a relationship. Same goes with authors. If you think you’ll wait to do media when your book comes out – it’s too late.
3. Follow Up – No one likes to pester people, but it’s always a good idea to keep yourself fresh in the mind of local producers. There’s nothing to be lost from sending a refresher email. Sure they might not have anything suitable for you at the moment, but it could also be the prompt they need to get back in touch. I can’t tell you how many times I would be struggling to book an expert for an interview when someone perfect would just pop back up in my inbox with a get in touch email. Producers have too much going on and don’t remember every guest so it pays to stay in the loop.
4. Get a Celeb – One of the biggest problems with events is that there’s not always something exciting happening that makes the event interesting to the media’s readers/viewers/listeners. Getting a celebrity involved is a quick way to instantly boost media interest in your event. Heidi did this for her event and it paid off big time.
And another example of this is one British couple who jokingly invited the Queen to their wedding and she showed up! Their day would’ve otherwise not been particularly newsworthy, but thanks to this fact their wedding was covered in all the major news outlets!
5. Be Bold – After coming into her local newsroom for an interview, Heidi made a connection with the news director as they were both big meditation fans. As she was leaving the studio she noticed his door ajar – sensing an opportunity she poked her head in. He was really pleased to see her and they got to talking which lead to her being able to tell him about her event. Right then and there he offered her live coverage from his station for the event. That almost never happens, but it’s because of the connection she made that allowed this to happen. It’s tempting to shy away in these moments, but sometimes you have to be brave!
6. Build Relationships – As a result of all of Heidi’s efforts her event was a big success. Although as she explains in the end one moment of success isn’t enough to make her event next year successful. Between now and then she’s putting most of her effort into fostering the relationships she made this year and building on them to make next year’s event even more successful.
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