With numerous media events available for brands to participate in — from Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular to Everything Family Speed Pitching, What’s Trending Product Expo, and many more — brands are often left wondering where to even start. Is a media event worthwhile for my brand? Which event, if any, should I participate in? And once an event is booked, what’s next?
Getting facetime with media at an event is a great opportunity for brands to forge closer relationships with their contacts, as well as build new ones. Direct, personalized pitching is of the utmost importance, so it’s always nice to put a face to a name and continue to create a connection by meeting in person. Scheduling individual meetings with members of the press at their offices has gotten harder to do in recent years, thanks to shrinking newsrooms and the need for busy editors to produce always-on content. So setting up shop at an event where the media is already a registered, captive audience is a great alternative.
That said, it’s not always the right time to invest in a media event – and not every event is worth your investment. Here are a few things to ask yourself first:
Do I have something worthwhile to talk about? A media event is a great place to introduce a new product, new industry, or other big news. You can also do an event to showcase your full product line, even if there’s nothing new to announce, to stay on the media’s radar for holiday or other relevant season, theme, or trend (see next bullet).
Is there a specific industry, holiday, or other theme I can tie in with? If holiday is a big priority, you may want to focus your event dollars on a gift guide event, or consider industry-specific events for tech, toys, and more, if that’s your bread and butter. You can even narrow down further to event format – for example, a speed pitching event could be a great fit for a smaller brand with a demonstrative product, that doesn’t want to get lost in the shuffle.
Do I need immediate coverage? Most press events are not about quick buzz. Some are geared towards a specific coverage timeline, like holiday, while others are best for establishing dialogue that can lead to future coverage. The exception to this is usually events connected to trade shows like CES, where media will likely share their top picks immediately following the show. When you consider an event, check out coverage that came out of the previous year’s event, and look through the event website and last year’s press list to get a feel for past attendance.
Once you’ve taken the plunge and registered your brand for an event, there are a few ways to maximize your presence before, during and after the event. With the right prep and strategic approach, you can ensure your brand is getting the most out of the event, even months after.
Master a concise pitch
For media events of any format, tightening up your pitch is key. Whether you get a small, set amount of time to meet with media one-on-one (like Speed Pitching), or media is moving freely around the room from table to table (like trade shows), your window to get your point across is limited. And beyond time constraints, let’s be real – attention spans are short! Ahead of the show, create a clear, concise pitch for your product or service that you can deliver in roughly 30 seconds. This intro pitch should serve as a brief overview and a gateway to a larger conversation about the product or service and its features. Don’t worry about cramming everything into your pitch – that’s what follow up is for!
Follow up is your friend!
See what I did there? After most events, you’ll likely receive the press list with contact information of media who attended. To build off the initial connection you made at the show and keep your brand top of mind, send each contact a personalized follow up note in a timely fashion. You’ll also want to include any specifics from your in-person conversation — whether they mentioned it could be a fit for a gift guide or upcoming story they’re working on, or if they even just mentioned a family member would be a fan of the brand. Media contacts see lots of products at events, so take the initiative to remind them of yours!
Polite persistence is key
If a contact can’t cover your product or service following the event, that’s OK! Don’t let the conversation stop there. Remember, this is about building a long-term relationship — not just securing a quick hit. Feel free to ask what else they’re working on now or in the future that could be a fit. Put your PR hat on to find creative inroads within their planned coverage and show them how your offerings can fit. While it may not seem evident to them at first, you may be able to make the case — just like when we showed a contact how our client Motif fit perfectly into her Gift Guide for Cat Parents!
Bottom line — when done correctly, media events can be incredibly beneficial to your brand and help you build great (and hopefully lasting!) media relationships. To discuss how our team of event experts can maximize exposure for your brand, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.