You will need coverage for your grand event, and what better way to do it than going to the press. We have the prepping bit, getting ready so that your boat has a smooth sail on the main day. Inviting the media is tough. You can’t be too casual by just making a phone call. But that adds a personal touch.
1. The PR team
First off, you’ll have to engage your PR team. They’re your go-to team for stuff like this. They know how to pitch your event to the journos. They’d set up the meet-cute (between you and your press guys). Here you have two possibilities. One: You might be a big player in the industry, and as such you may have a proper PR team as part of your company, Two: You may decide to hire someone or a pro PR agency.
Also, if you’re approaching the news guys through their own PR teams, an odd third option, please don’t say you want so and so to cover this event. Don’t even hint at something like that, or say something that can be misconstrued to mean something like that. It is considered to be very bad form.
2. Being in the know
The PR guys will do what they do, pitch the show or event, haggle off moolah matters, and whatever else they might need to do to get things rolling. Make sure you are aware of every transaction. You’ll need to know what they promised the press guys — any rules or conditions they may have pushed through or promised to abide by, not just the stuff they tell you only on a need-to-know basis.This probing on your part needs to be done. You can’t risk annoying the press at the first go.
3. Stuff you need to know
Prior to calling them, get to know everything you can about them, including the stuff they write about and info about rivalries. You may be inviting more than one press group. So you’ll need to know all this if you are to handle things nicely and avoid clashes. If the press guys you’re calling over know you, kudos. If they know someone you know well, on the team, first find out if they’re on good terms. If they are, then go ahead and have a chat with them to see if your friends can say hi to the press for a few minutes to soften things up. If you don’t know them, then see if you can get your PR team to assist you. If you have someone of eminence on your side, having them drop in for a few minutes can be a good idea. But remember, this is not to show off, or show superiority, but to show your journos that you think they are worth the effort. Make sure your high fliers who come by are polite, or all the effort will go to waste.
4. The call
Next, assuming you’ve done all that you could do to publicize your event, and it’s a big deal now, and everyone who is someone wants to be there. They will want to, too. If not, don’t worry. If your event is worth it then there’s nothing a good sales pitch can’t fix.
Remember, these guys think on their feet. So, time is always of the essence. When you call, you should have all the required information with you, what it’s about, who’ll be there, why it matters, and why it’s a good reason for them to cover the event. And, any other additional information you might need to know like stuff about your competition too, in case both your events are happening in the same week. Be polite, and articulate. If you’re not confident you can do it nicely without rubbing anyone the wrong way, then find someone who’s good at it. Whichever language you choose, make sure whoever is doing the talking is good at it. Journos are great at it, since they’re hired for their literary talents. So don’t mess up.
If they call you then the same rules apply. You’ll still have to be ready for questions, and you have to answer them, if you want their favour. Please be dignified at all times, and avoid attempting to talk too friendly with them,or worse flirting or bulldozing them. It’s rude, and while you may have seen them on TV or read their stuff in the newspapers, you do not know anything about them, so show good behavior over the phone.
5. Meeting up
It’s a great idea to call over the members who will be covering your event, for a casual meetup, to hash through the details. You’ll have to talk about stuff they can talk about, stuff you’d be a bit anxious about, private green room interviews, permits, photos, controversies they can cover and controversies you’re not comfortable with. Be honest, but at no point, can you forget to be civilised. And if you’re worried about the amply talented journos and press guys, offering them coffee and chocolate foods right after you say hi
is a secret technique (not so secret now) to fix any off-moods. This discussion has to be done, and must be done well. And with utmost delicacy. Use politeness. You kill your foes when you make them your friends.
6. Social (media) do’s and don’ts
Whatever you do, do not attempt to say hi via social media. If you want to do that, then first get their approval to do so, when you call them up. Don’t do anything before that. You can check out their pages or profiles if you want, but nothing more. Once you’ve had the first formal chat, check with them if they can add you up on Facebook, or say hi on Twitter. Being in the know, when it comes to social media, is considered a boon. It’s a sign that you are in with what’s trending. And they’d appreciate that.
And, needless to say, don’t try to show your intellectual prowess by engaging in an argument about anything, unless you’ve known them/him/her for over a month. You can’t do dumb things like that with public figures like pressmen and women.
If you have any suggestions, please realise that they’re the best at what they do. Sometimes they may ask you if there’s anything you’d like to add or say stuff about. You can give your suggestions then.
Hopefully, armed with all this info, you should be able to have a productive conversation with the press guys.