PR, or public relations, describes the process of getting information about your event to the public. Why do you need to build a successful event PR strategy program as an event planner? It comes down to reaching your audience.
Why do I need an event PR strategy?
Public relations for events is a vital part of a comprehensive event promotion strategy. By using local publications for PR, you can target your community, reaching prime potential event-goers.
But if you’re not approaching event public relations correctly, you’ll waste time without getting any press coverage. And with so many events out there, it can be hard to make it seem like your event is noteworthy.
To rise above the noise in journalists’ inboxes, you need to clarify why the public will care about your event’s story. Use these 10 simple steps to make your event PR efforts drive interest and attendance.
1. List the basic details of your event
The goal of event PR is to generate interest and registrations for your event. Make it easy for a press piece to turn readers into attendees by providing journalists with all the essential information upfront.
Get started with a checklist
- Name of the event
- Where to reserve or buy tickets
- Highlights of the event
2. Write your press pitch
As an experienced event organizer, you already have the skills to write a good press pitch because it builds on the same foundation as writing a strong sponsorship pitch. While sponsors might care about hard numbers surrounding your event, the press would likely rather hear the story behind the numbers.
Key questions to address in your pitch
- What’s the value of this information to the journalist or editor you’re contacting?
- Why would their readership be interested in your event?
- How does this event fit with the style or focus of their publication?
3. Organize your event PR research
To maximize the ROI of your PR efforts, and as a part of your event PR planning, research which types of press are most likely to attend and cover your event. Once you know which publications to target, identify the sections, writers, and editors who focus on the topics related to your event. Lastly, consolidate their contact information. Organize all of this research into your event media list.
Capture key information in your media list
- Publication name
- Relevant section
- Contact name (writer or editor)
- Contact information (email, phone number, Twitter handle)
- Area of focus (adjust your pitch to suit each publication)
Leave at least one blank status column in your spreadsheet next to each contact’s name so you can track the progress of your outreach.
4. Include local listings and event calendars
Remember to include local publications, relevant listings, and event calendars in your PR research. These are often free and require minimal effort.
Use search terms to find relevant index publishers
- Your event type
- Your event city
- Week or month + city
- Related interests (such as “networking opportunities”)
- Industry served by event
5. Leverage event headliners for PR
You’ve already worked hard to get great speakers and talent for your event. Use their influence to secure press coverage by including them in your pitch. Why not use your lineup to expand your media list, identifying journalists who’ve interviewed your performers before?
Expand your media list based on talent
- Can you get coverage for the performances at your event?
- Is there a different type of publication that would be interested in covering your speakers?
6. Start event PR outreach early
All publications have a lead time, so you have the best chance of success by giving them as much advance notice as possible. Aim for at least one month before your event to target online publications and at least two months before your event to target print publications. The larger the publication, the more lead time they generally require.
7. Create compelling PR assets
The press wants to engage its readership. One way to help them is by offering visuals of your event. This benefits you because it makes publications more likely to cover your event, and pictures can help convert readers into attendees.
Ways to create visual event PR assets
- Ask your speakers and performers for promotional pictures
- Use pictures from previous events
- Hire a professional photographer for your event (this will help for future event PR)
- Create an infographic summarizing data from your event
8. Choose an event hashtag
Social media is an important part of modern event promotion. Define an event hashtag and use it consistently. If you have the resources, you can also build a social media strategy for your event to yield long-term results. If your hashtag builds traction, it can be a great point of credibility that your story will register readers.
9. Track your event PR efforts
While it sounds simple, many event organizers fail to secure press coverage because they don’t follow up. Keep track of your outreach in blank columns on the media list you already created.
Track key information
- Outreach date
- Response? (yes/no)
- Follow-up date
- Response? (yes/no)
- Press requests
10. Invite the press to your event
Great event PR doesn’t stop when the event begins. Build a long-term relationship with press contacts by giving them complimentary access to your event. They may provide live coverage or introduce you to more connections in their field.
Ready to build your strategic public relations plan beyond basic outreach? Learn how to build a communication strategy that engages your attendees before, during, and after your event.