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How to get the press involved in your events

April 9, 2019

To help kick off Insure Our Event’s ‘Market your event’ month, we’re looking at getting the press involved to help spread the word about your event. Unless you’re paying for ads, going to press is the quickest way of grabbing the attention of your potential customers.

But getting a journalist interested in your story isn’t as easy as you’d think. It’s not as easy as telling them about your event and waiting for them to write a Pulitzer-winning preview on it.

Luckily, Insure Our Event’s Digital Communications Manager, Sam, is a former journalist. So we asked him for his best tips on getting the press involved in your events.

Find the right journalist

One of the biggest mistakes an event organiser can make when ‘outreaching’ to journalists is sending an email to a website/newspaper’s newsdesk, or calling their main landline number. The email inbox for the newsdesk acts as a black hole for ideas, stories and dreams (ok, maybe that last one was a bit of a stretch).

The problem with this kind of outreach is that you’re hoping that the right person sees the message and that they have the time to read it before someone else files it into the trash box.

The right way of doing things is to search the press website or newspaper for stories similar to the one you’re pitching, and then look who wrote it. Send that person a more personalised message explaining why your story is great and why they’re the right person to tell it.

Write a press release

Contrary to popular belief, journalists don’t spend their days researching and writing every story from scratch. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for that.

Instead, a lot of the stories you read in a newspaper or on a website are edited versions of press releases sent by companies and PR representatives. In a journalist’s ideal world, they’d receive a really well written press release that contains all the right information in the right order, leaving them to just do a bit of tinkering to make it fit with the style of their publication.

Get the press release right and you’ve won half the battle. It is a fine art, but not THAT difficult to learn. Have a look on Google for examples (other search engines are available).

Pick up the phone

Journalism is still quite an old-school profession. The best journalists are outgoing, chatty and people-people, so it makes sense that they still prefer to pick up the phone and talk rather than do everything by email.

Some of you may share the journalist’s sentiment in preferring phone calls, but it’s worth remembering how this changes your story pitch. When you’re on the phone, you have to be able to answer questions in an instant and you must be confident and passionate about the subject.

Draft your email

If you can’t pick up the phone and call the journalist for whatever reason, make sure that your emails stand out from the crowd. Inboxes are cramped and crowded, so yours needs to be colourful and interesting to stand out.

We’d advise against ‘click-bait’, but we’d suggest that you hit the journalist with a powerful headline in the subject line.

But when you start your email, don’t start with the story itself; talk about why the story will generate readers for the journalist e.g it’s going to be a huge event, it’s important for local elderly etc.

Get on social media

Earlier in the year, I followed a journalist contact of mine on LinkedIn. A couple of months ago, she gave me a call and asked for more information on a story she’d seen me post online.

The world is on social media, and for many of us (journalists included), that’s how we digest our news. By staying active on social media, you’re increasing the likelihood that a journalist, or other relevant person, see’s your story. I should also note that it’s just as important that you proactively follow and speak to those relevant people on social, or they’ll never see your content.

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