Event publicity tips

Re-printed with permission from Introduction to Public Relations, by Claudine Wilson, APR. ISBN: 978-1-55323-498-2

Special event publicity

The best time to plan for event publicity is during the planning of the event itself. If the publicist helps with the planning process, elements can be added to appeal to mass media gatekeepers. For example, the publicist can use the following to generate pre- and post-publicity:

  • Add small, inexpensive, yet out-of-the-ordinary touches to the event in the planning stage. For example, organizers of a golf tournament spruced up the Port-A-Potties by adding attractive toilet paper, scented candles, and decorative soap. That created quite a buzz and attracted some media attention after the event.
  • Do a publicity stunt before the event to draw the media’s attention.
  • Invite media personalities to take part in the event, not just cover it.
  • Create a day, week, or month observance as a tie in.
  • Pitch a local community cable channel to cover the event.
  • Take photographs at the event and supply them to community newspapers with a news release. The photographs also can be posted on the organization’s website so the media can download them for any follow-up story.
  • Write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper thanking participants and/or volunteers.
  • Do a creative, interesting, and/or unusual poll or survey during the event and send the results to the media.
  • Invite a celebrity to participate. Make sure the celebrity “fits” with your organization.
  • Kick off the event in a creative – even unusual – way. Think photo ops.
  • Send the results of the fundraising endeavour to the media. If possible, include information on how that specific amount of money will help the organization help others in the community.
  • Make note of positive comments made verbally or in writing by participants and obtain permission to use them as testimonials the following year.

Advice for the publicist

You will increase the chances of attracting media attention to an event – before and after – if you remember the following:

  • Create a theme that will tie all elements of your publicity together.
  • Distinguish between pre- and post-publicity. And send the right material to the right side of media (news, opinion/commentary, community service, or entertainment).
  • Select media that reach your target audience(s).
  • Be creative. And remember those news values. Use them to create angles for news.
  • Pitch the visual aspects of your event. And think sound for radio.
  • If the event is fun, you can have fun – even be a little silly. But never offend anyone (unless that is your strategy) and never cause harm.
  • Be aware of and adhere to media deadlines.
  • Use the right publicity tool/technique to package your information and get it to the right news gatherer/gatekeeper.
  • Humanize. People are more attractive than bricks and mortar or statistics.
  • Assist reporters by finding interview subjects and newsworthy images. Set up a clearly marked media table and staff it. Make sure those at the table know who your spokespeople are so they can guide the media to them. If you are running a huge event, you may want to set aside a room to use as a media centre.

Re-printed with permission from Introduction to Public Relations, by Claudine Wilson, APR. ISBN: 978-1-55323-498-2