Maximizing Event Exposure: Connecting with Media

By Rick Bourgoise

No matter what industry you’re in, there are numerous events and conferences for speaking, exhibiting, sponsoring, attending and networking. When media members are present, there is also the opportunity to get your story told and build editorial relationships.

All major events typically have some kind of media component, whether it is a dedicated press session or reporters in attendance. However, media relations is often overlooked among those who are not wired for generating media exposure at an event. Attending media can present powerful opportunities, even if you’re only attending and not investing in a formal presence at the event.

Prep spokespeople. At every event you attend, look to prepare and put company spokespeople in front of media, especially if your company’s experts are speaking and have presentation content that could be turned into news. An immediate story may not result, but establishing contact helps build familiarity and relationships for future outreach.

Plan for media encounters. In advance, find out which reporters are attending, and develop a plan for a meet-and-greet or more formal sit-down interview. To find out which media to pursue, ask if the event organizers will provide a list of registered media. They may not, but it’s always worth asking.

Build your target media list. Most likely, you’ll need to build your own target media list. First, look to see if there are media partners or sponsors. Those media that have committed marketing dollars generally put reporter resources behind covering the event and would be looking for story angles. Next, research to see which media outlets/reporters have covered the event in the past since they’re most likely to be repeat attendees. Once you have a solid list, you can investigate who is attending and see if they have time to meet.

Have a reason to contact the reporter. Publication staffs are very lean, so each solicitation for a meeting should be based on substance – meeting a key executive, sharing news, having an opinion on an industry issue, etc. Connecting on the fly at the event can be effective, but is less certain.

Homework does pay off. Just a few weeks ago, Quell had several clients in Traverse City for the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars. We lined up several reporter meetings for our clients who were either presenting or simply attending. This returned a number of dividends. One client was included in a Wall Street Journal article, and another is now on the ground floor as a key speaker as a major media outlet plans a high-profile national conference.

The next time you or a member of your company plans to attend an event, remember to maximize your participation by weaving media relations into the strategy.

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