What’s the best way to reach out to reporters?

Even in this Email/Facebook/ Tweet world, the media still prefer a good old press release to receive information.  A press release is constructed and written to provide only the facts about your event – no hype – so the reporter/editor has essential information for a good story to tell their audience. Journalists receive hundreds of press releases/emails every day from people who want them to publish their information.  Writing a professional press release makes it easier for them to read, understand and see something of interest, and the more likely you’ll get your information published.


What Gets Published

Telling the press what makes your event unique, special and/or how it has an impact on the community gets their attention.  Remember, a press release is not an invitation, but rather a description of the event so the reader will be enticed to attend, even buy a ticket.  If your event sounds like a hundred other events, it will get passed by. So focus on why your event is like no other without any hype or puffery.

There is a difference between hype (advertising) and differentiation.  For example:

Hype:  Event XYZ is the biggest and best conference in the New England for small business owners. You’ll find only the most important and influential speakers presenting at this conference.

Differentiation (“the Hook”):

(What is unique) For the first time, over 300 XYZ franchise owners attending the XYZ conference will have the unique opportunity to participate in not only dozens of  product training sessions, but also complimentary business classes such as marketing, public relations and personnel management. The key note speaker the best selling author  XXX who will share personal insights of how to grow your business without gambling your life savings.

(Benefit to attendees) Small business owners do not have the time or resources to attend various conferences to obtain training on different aspects of business, making this event a valuable one-stop conference for them to gain the knowledge to help all their cross functional departments.

(Credibility) This new format has increased participation by 50% and is a complete sell out, evidence that small businesses are eager to learn how to run their businesses more efficiently across all departments.  The Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy cites that 50% of new small businesses will fail within the first 5 years of business. (September 2012). XYZ company’s mission is to to provide as much education and training as possible for their franchisee’s to decrease or eliminate this failure rate.


The Structure of a Press Release

There is a standard way to structure a professional press release for an event, so I won’t go into it here. Rapid Press Release has a nice template of how to lay out a release, with the nuances of what NOT to do, which is just as important.

Before writing your press release, you’ll need to describe:

  • What is the purpose of your event?  Is it a fund raising event, awards ceremony, a gathering of the local community?
  • What makes your event special/unique?  Highlight personalities, celebrities, speakers, the major theme, award honorees, beneficiaries, etc.
  • How will the attendees benefit from the event?  Gain education, build community relationships, share quality family time,  etc.
  • Logistics: Date, time, place, directions, ticket prices, where to buy tickets.
  • List any sponsors that are involved with the event.
  • Graphics: Organization logos, pics of last year’s event.


Timing Is Key

Once the information is set, send the press release (email is fine) to local media: TV, newspapers, and radio stations, as well as any industry or partner associations that send out newsletters. The timing of when you send press information will vary depending on their deadlines.  Send it out too early, and it will be forgotten.  Send it too late and it’ll miss publication deadlines.  It’s best to check with specific media outlets to make sure you’re within the right window.  Here’s a rule of thumb:

  • 3 Months in Advance- Monthly Publications, Facebook “Events”, LinkedIn Posting, and Associations with eNewsletters
  • 1 Month in Advance-Weekly Publications, Facebook, Email Campaigns, Radio, LinkedIn
  • 1 week in Advance- Daily Publications, Facebook, Twitter posts
  • 1-3 Days in Advance-  TV, Twitter, Facebook
  • Event Listing Links- Connecticut Magazine, Hartford Magazine, The Hartford Courant

Here’s a tip from a panel discussion featuring Connecticut TV Anchors:  the best time to contact them by phone is 2 PM.  They have just finished  the mid-day news and haven’t started constructing the evening news.


There are Still Post Event Opportunities

After the event, send photos of guests, speakers and unique aspects of your event (as stated in the press release) to news outlets.  They are always looking for graphics and photos to post to their web site or publish.  Include names and descriptions for each file.  The more information you provide, the easier it is for them to cut and paste the news directly from your email.  Act quickly!  After one or two days the event is “old news”. 


Manage Your Expectations

There is a limited amount of space in any news outlet, so don’t expect that everyone will publish your information.  Just keep sending out relevant information, feel free to call journalists for any feedback on your release, and thank those who do publish your information.

For more information on making your special event like no other, contact Event Resources for a free consultation. Tel: 860-528-1343  Email:events@eventresources.com  Web: www.eventresources.com


Mary Beth Staron,
Director of Marketing
Event Resources, Inc.
Mary Beth lets the world know about Event Resources using a full arsenal of marketing tools from time-tested, traditional activities to the latest in social media. After directing marketing departments for FORTUNE 500′s and high tech startups, including managing hundreds of trade shows, seminars, webinars, national ads, video and public relations, her high-impact results-oriented approach and creative thinking engages current and new customers on a daily basis.

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