How to Pitch An Event to the Media
Parties are no fun without people. Neither are lectures, shows, plays, games, company launches, speed dating, networking events, or any kind of event for that matter. If you’re going to go through all the trouble of producing an event in the first place, you deserve a good turnout.
You can post the event on Eventbrite, throw money into advertising, but there’s still one more thing you should add to your promotional checklist: pitch the media.
PR isn’t just for products and services, events can get good publicity too. When the media creates a little hype around your event, you can reach more people and benefit from the 3rd party credibility that comes when other are people talking about your event.
I don’t think I need to sell you too hard on why you should get media attention for your event, I'll assume we already agree on that, but you probably want to know how.
Here are a few tips I use every day for pitching events to the media.
1. Send Your Event Info ASAP
You don’t have to have every detail locked down and ready to go to let the media know that you will be throwing an event. As soon as you resolve that you’re going to do it, you can let the media know.
Think about it, theaters will put out a schedule long before they start rehearsing and sometimes before they cast the show. Music festivals will announce their dates before they book their headliners and slowly release that information to build up the hype.
All you need to start pitching is enough information to say something interesting will be happening.
And the alternative is much worse. If you send your information too late, there might too much on the calendar already or you could miss the lead time altogether.
When it comes to pitching events, my opinion is that it’s never too early to start pitching.
2. Offer an Expert
Just like any other invitation, you usually provide a point of contact for RSVPs and questions. When you pitch the media, offer an expert who is knowledgeable about the event and is a subject matter expert too.
In your pitch, make it clear that your expert is available to be interviewed.
This is important because you want the publication to write more than just an event listing. An event listing is great! But a story gives more context to your event and can generate more enthusiasm.
Having someone available for interviews gives the reporter the opportunity to discover the story behind the event, explain what people will get out of it and what they can look forward to.
3. Provide Details in the Body of Your Email
Your pitch should have all the important details included in the body of the email, not attached. You want to make it easy for the person to get the most important information as soon as they open your email.
One common mistake is to rely on the press release to do all the talking. Writing a press release is fine, but not completely necessary. Press releases should tell the full story, but your pitch is there just to catch the reporter’s attention. You don’t want to put too many steps between them and the good stuff, and an attached press release is another click or two that’s just getting in the way.
And don’t be tempted to put your entire press release in the body of the email. That might be too much information when you really need to keep it concise.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Up
In the world of PR, what set me apart early on was that I wasn’t afraid to follow up. The industry expectation is that you start with an email, but if you don’t hear back, don’t be afraid to reach back out by email or even with a call. You’ll be surprised how effective this really is.
You can even follow up on the day of the event. Sometimes the media, especially TV stations, don’t know until the day of what their schedule looks like. They could have someone drop, it could be a slow news day, or you could just catch someone at the right time. If you follow up, you’ll be on their radar and hopefully on their show!
5. Calendar Listings are a Great Option
If you google “events calendar in xyz city” or “community calendar in xyz” you should find a variety of calendars for you to post your own events.
Calendar listings will naturally get your event more attention from the people who go there to find things to do. And it’s also a source the media can look to when they search for events to write about.
A lot of times, local newspapers, magazines and TV stations will have a calendar section where you can post your own event, so don’t forget to look and post there too.