Let me ask you a quick question: When do you know for sure that your event-planning efforts are truly successful?
The moment you sell out of tickets? When a percentage of your attendees decide to opt in for your brand’s products? Or maybe the mere fact that nothing bad happened during the event is already a sign of success?
These are all well-founded indicators.
However, there’s one thing that signalizes undeniable triumph: when people start talking about your events, and subsequently about your brand.
Whether it’s on social media or a personal blog, the louder the noise, the better. Marketing strategies, outreach techniques, getting influencers to say something about your event … all these actions are a must when planning an event.
But other than designing a few promotions, have you ever thought about getting media coverage for your event?
And I’m not talking about convincing a micro-influencer to share your event’s link on his or her Facebook page. I’m referring to real media outlets that have a strong audience and are thought leaders in your industry.
Have you ever designed a PR campaign and media strategy for your (upcoming) event? Do you know what outcomes you could generate by getting media coverage?
What is media coverage, and why does it matter?
From popular blogs and traditional outlets (such as radio or print journals) to big podcasts and online platforms, almost everything can be considered a media these days. However, the most important criteria of media are that you have an audience (preferably a big one) and an efficient way of delivering messages.
If you can get media coverage, you can also get access to an impactful method of communication that can help you influence a predetermined target group.
If you’re still undecided about whether to get media coverage or not, think of it this way: It can get your momentum going and increase significantly your influence.
As the famous marketer Ryan Holiday indicates in his book Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts, “A reality of our culture is that if you or your product has never been covered in the press, there is a risk that people will think you’re a nobody. Unless something is brand-new, it’s very rare that someone or something is both definitive and unknown. That’s why press matters and why it is part of most successful marketing plans.”
Two WRONG reasons to get media coverage for your event
Before digging deeper, there are some things I should warn you about. Most people are trying to get media coverage for the wrong reasons. Here are some of them:
Wrong reason #1. To increase the attendance rate
“Wait, what?” you might be thinking.
“This is the number one reason to get media coverage, isn’t it? The press can help me get more leads, customers, or in this case, attendees.”
I understand your confusion, but this is a misconception.
Getting media coverage doesn’t automatically equal getting more clients or guests. According to Holiday, “Media outlets have trouble getting people to pay for their own product—what makes you so sure they’re going to be able to convince their readers and viewers to buy yours?”
Wrong reason #2. To become more popular
As Holiday notes, “We tend to assume that press is essential to success because very often really good and really popular things get a lot of press. The question is whether press is usually an effect of a really good and popular thing or the cause of its goodness or popularity. The number of overexposed box office flops most people could name ought to disabuse us of this notion permanently.”
If you want to get media coverage for your event, remember one thing: It is not your way to success, nor does it guarantee success—it’s just a step you must take if you intend to increase the efficiency of your marketing campaign.
So why should your event get media coverage, then? There’s only one reason: gathering social proof.
By showcasing your event (a.k.a brand) through media, backed up by credibility and status, you’ll gain more exposure and leave a small imprint in people’s minds.
Just think about it: Let’s say you are representing a pharma cosmetics company and running events to potentiate the brand experience. You focus on different stakeholders; potential leads, loyal clients, investors, to name a few.
If you get media coverage, you can state your position as an industry leader, and increase your trustworthiness.
As Holiday indicates, “While the media might not necessarily convince customers, it definitely helps with recruiting investors and employees and impressing other important gatekeepers.”
For example, you could display the logos of the media outlets that feature you on your event’s website.
Obviously, as mentioned above, this won’t assure a higher number of attendees. But it will be seen as a powerful statement that confirms your position and strengthens both your brand’s narrative and identity.
Quick tips on how to get media coverage for your event
Tip #1. Generate marketing stunts
The mere fact that you’re planning an awesome event or your brand produces high-quality products won’t grab the attention of media outlets. To get media coverage, you must come up with a campaign or newsworthy story.
For example, when Jay Z launched his book, Jay-Z Decoded, he came up with an unusual game for his fans. The rapper transformed the reading into a scavenger hunt.
Collaborating with a creative agency, Jay-Z “slapped all 320 pages of Decoded in various blown-up sizes on some unexpected surfaces: a rooftop in New Orleans, a pool bottom in Miami, cheeseburger wrappers in New York City, a pool table in Jay’s 40/40 Club, and many more.”
His fans had to find all 32 hidden images. As a reward, the singer offered admission for two to any of his concerts around the world, for life.
This marketing stunt earned him lots of media coverage beyond a generic description of his book release. It was an interesting story that would grab any media consumer’s imagination.
Tip #2. Start with smaller outlets
As counterintuitive as it sounds, if you want to get media coverage and be featured by big outlets, you should start small.
In his book Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, Ryan Holiday explains that usually, big media outlets will ignore your story at first.
However, if you manage to get published by small blogs or be featured in not-so-famous vlogs, chances are that bigger media outlets will pick up the story and put you on the first page.
Tip #3. Practice the art of “newsjacking”
To get media coverage, be aware of what’s happening around you. When people talk about a certain topic, make sure to insert yourself (and your event) into the conversation.
A clever example is a newsjacking action from Google.
At some point, drones became a massive media trend. Everyone was hunting news about drones, since this subject was generating an insane amount of traffic.
As Holiday explains, “This was obviously on Amazon’s mind when, on the eve of Cyber Monday—one of the biggest online shopping days of the year—it made a commercial that showed its drone delivery system dropping off Amazon-branded packages on doorsteps across America. Here’s the thing: This drone delivery system did not exist. Even as I write this, it still does not exist. But that was never the point. Amazon was hijacking the news to its advantage. Everyone went along with it—including 60 Minutes, where the commercial debuted—because the company had done it so well.”
To achieve your event marketing goals and transform your brand into a trustworthy company, you need to get media coverage. It might not be easy, but by using the right techniques, you can hijack the news and make everything about you.
That’s why you should spend some times on crafting newsworthy marketing stunts or campaigns, aim to get featured by smaller outlets and blogs, and finally insert yourself into the conversation. Get everyone talking about your event!