• Sarah Beatty, APR

Be a PR Hero: Make Event Planning Coverage Your Superpower

On this week's Move the Stairs™ Friday Chat: learn how to be a hero by using PR event planning to earn a ton of coverage for your next event! Large events are a great way to build Brand Protection™ and fill the trust bucket because you're introducing your organization's mission, goals, thought leadership, or philanthropy to a large audience. You're building a reservoir of goodwill that can help protect your business and brand from reputation damage, and that's what we call Brand Protection™.


Catch the whole conversation here:


Ways to make PR work for your event

First things first: download the free Insider Media Relations™ Event Coverage Planner at the bottom of this post. Let's start by working through the planner (this is where we start event coverage conversations with our clients!) Up first:

  • What’s the homerun (top choice/must-have) outlet? How can you target this outlet with an irresistible pitch?

We call it the "homerun" outlet because it's the one outlet where our clients absolutely HAVE TO SEE COVERAGE to feel like our work is a bang-up success. It could be the biggest TV station, one where they have a personal connection or a niche trade publication that reaches a coveted audience. The homerun outlet is where we concentrate our efforts to get event coverage.


The best way to do it? By building relationships over time with journalists by getting to know their professional "brand." What do different journalists like to cover? What do they tweet about? Make your pitch tailor-made for each individual or media outlet.


An irresistible pitch can also be something that grabs attention for being different, unusual, or against-the-grain. For example, we recently helped a client land coverage on a hiring fair by positioning it to media as "good news you can use" for their viewers during an economic recession. You bet that got media coverage!


Successful event PR strategies

OK, next question:

  • What’s the coverage goal for this event? How will coverage of this event power your PR goals?

Determine the goal of the media coverage: to sell tickets? to encourage donations? to get people to visit/buy/pay attention to an issue? The goal of the media coverage helps determine whether you need to land coverage before an event to promote it, secure coverage of the event itself, or both. For our hiring fair client, we had to land coverage before the hiring fair so interested people had enough notice to be able to attend.


In another successful project for Lung Cancer Foundation of America, we landed media coverage of an all-day social media takeover by illustrating what living with lung cancer looks like through fun, engaging stories of people living with the disease. One patient is a personal trainer and got great TV coverage of his work supporting other people's health goals and promoted his hour-long beach workout on the day of the live event. Another patient landed a sports (yes, sports!) interview about her family's love of fantasy football and their huge, raucous draft party every year. In their interviews, they mentioned the day-long social media event of course, but the fundraising event wasn't the main component of the pitch.


The client's PR goal was awareness of lung cancer as the #1 cancer killer in the US leading to contributions for lung cancer research funding to help people like the personal trainer and fantasy football fans live longer, healthier lives. The coverage we landed for the client powered those PR goals perfectly.


How do you plan coverage for a PR event?

You've got a great event coming up: maybe a fundraising gala, or harvest season for Colorado's favorite fruit. That was the case for our client, the Rocky Ford Growers Association. The family farmers of the RFGA never quite know when the crop will be ready or how the season will go weather-wise, so they turn to us to help create excitement for the first cantaloupes of the season. We've done this using a combination of strategies to grab media coverage. That brings us to the last question on the Insider Media Relations™ Event Coverage Planner:

  • How can you leverage all the channels available (traditional/social media, etc) to grab media attention?

The small town where these sweet and juicy cantaloupes are grown is several hours away from the largest media markets. That means it's tough for media to cover the planting process, the growing season, and the harvest. We organize a planting day media opportunity and invite all the metro area TV stations, newspapers, and other journalists we know are interested. We also shoot and distribute our own video, which almost always gets picked up.


During the growing season, there's not a ton going on visually, so that calls for a change in tactics to earn media coverage. We Tweet photos of baby cantaloupes growing in the fields and beautiful sunny days to the TV meteorologists- a different photo to each one- and we almost always get media coverage during the weather segments. Score!


At the end of the season, we use a different type of event to grab a last bit of media coverage. Usually, we organize the delivery of the ceremonial first box of cantaloupe to the governor's office. It always gets great media coverage when the governor comes out to pick up the box of melons, thank the farmers for their hard work, and ask some questions.


This year is different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, we organized a donation of four tons of melons to a local food bank. It was a chance for the farmers to demonstrate their thought leadership by giving back to the community through growing Colorado's safest and most-loved agricultural product. The donation landed millions of impressions in local and national media coverage. Talk about filling the trust bucket and protecting their brand!

Each week, we talk about moving the stairs: taking a look at the tools you have and leveraging everything at your disposal to achieve the best outcome and power your PR goals. Download the Insider Media Relations™ Event Coverage Planner and make brand protection through event planning coverage your superpower!

Event Coverage Planner
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