Within the first few weeks of my internship, I was given an opportunity to be a part of a “big reveal” news event. In college, you read and learn about how to plan a news event, but very rarely are you able to be a part of the planning process and view it at execution. So you can imagine my excitement in seeing all the work that comes into play behind the scenes.
My five takeaways:
#1. Learn how to build a media list like a pro.
Planning is key, and with any event, you have to create a media list. Know who you want to target, what stations you want covering your event, and include reporters you know that have covered events like this in the past.
#2. Good communication takes you far.
Communication between all parties is absolutely essential for a smooth event. Make sure you establish who the main contact is for the release. Confirm the time and date that the release is going out. Establish who is working on each element and have set deadlines.
#3. Create a media advisory.
A media advisory is a document emailed to newsrooms informing reporters of an upcoming event. It communicates the event time and location, who will be attending and why. Now, the trick to writing the perfect media advisory is to figure out how to hook reporters without giving away too much information. Trust me, it’s not as easy as you think. You always have to put yourself in the reporter’s shoes and ask, “Why should I cover this event? How is it different from other events I have covered in the past?” If you can answer the 5 W’s and pique a reporter’s interest, then you have them hooked.
#4. Tracking a release is essential.
Always, always, always test the release until it’s ready to send, and make sure you have active links to the appropriate pages. Writing a press release or media advisory may be easy – with practice – but loading it into the public relations program that you use to send out the release is much more challenging. A release is ready when you have no spelling errors or spacing issues, a clean setup, active links and images that link back to the appropriate pages. It’s also important to test the release on your desktop and mobile devices to make sure it’s displaying properly. Why are links so important, you may wonder? They tell you how many times the release has been opened and viewed.
#5. When at the event, soak in the whole experience.
Always soak in the experience. You can learn so much from just standing back and observing. Watch for what is being done, and always reflect on the event after it’s over to see if you could have made it better.