How to Score PR for Your Special Event

By Mason Burnham

If you’re trying to score PR for your special event, the first thing you need to strive for is to make sure that your event is actually a special event.

But let me tell you, it is not easy to get media (especially in a major market like New York City) interested in an event.

You can start with the 5 W’s: Who, What, Where, When and Why. Any one of these might be compelling enough to generate media interest.

special_event_signWho: The media will be interested in big names. For arts and entertainment media, you need celebrities participating in the event. For business media, you need C-level executives who are relevant and interesting to their audience.

What: Is this a unique and/or original event where something compelling is taking place? And I don’t mean whether or not the client think it’s newsworthy. They have invested time and money in it, so of course they feel that way. It needs to be truly newsworthy, not just your client’s conference/speech/charity dinner. There are plenty of great events that the media is not interested in covering.

Where: This one is a little more difficult as the venue has to be brand new or incredibly hard to get into to be at all newsworthy in and of itself. Think about the media you’re approaching if you wish to highlight the location.

When: This is always a difficult one as it will be dictated by the client and the type of event. But keep in mind that the media you will be able to attract to a morning breakfast meeting will be different than the media at a cocktail reception. Free food and drink are always a good draw, and you need to make sure there isn’t a huge, competing event at the same time.

Why: This is where the PR professional has to use his/her creative skills and knowledge of the client and the media to find different angles that might appeal to various outlets. One event could be pitched from a range of different perspectives, including the breaking news story, the business angle, the personality/profile piece, the human-interest story, the larger trend piece, etc.

But even if you have a great event at a wonderful venue with big names, you still need to do your research and get the word out. Make sure you have the event listed on all the relevant calendars and promote it online, through marketing, and via cross-promotion with partners. Send save-the-dates and invitations to all your targeted media contacts and follow up with personal invitations and offers for access to the individuals they are most interested in meeting.

And as with everything else in PR, follow-up is crucial. Make notes of anything newsworthy at the event (great quotation, money raised, new product launched, etc.) and include a post-event press release. Send photographs and captions and/or B-roll from the event along with the release to all media. Send this information and a note of thanks to all the media who attended and make sure they have everything they need to file their stories.

Also, send all coverage from the event to the client ASAP with a note about each story, and provide valuable feedback to the client about why the event did or did not work from a PR perspective so that you can constantly improve results.
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