From press conferences to product launches, clients frequently turn to PPMG to handle onsite media relations for events of all sizes. And for good reason… Our team has decades of collective experience over the years, and our success really boils down to one key principle.
Every PR professional needs to have a solid grasp on the basics of event production and onsite media relations.
Events tend to be hectic and stressful, especially if an organization’s senior leadership is involved. There are lots of moving parts, so tasks and responsibilities must be delegated. The devil is in the details.
With the busy holiday season finally behind us, we thought that this might be the best of times to share – and revisit – some tips and advice for PR professionals at any career stage:
Just a reminder… no question is too stupid, or too obvious, to ask. And ‘think beyond the obvious.’
If you’re a planning an event, give your guests every possible piece of information to ensure they successfully reach their destination.
For one, verify the guest’s address as well as directions on Google Maps and, if possible, visit the site in person to double-check. Print out or send them a map. Identify helpful landmarks or milestones to look for.
Provide the CEO and every staff member in attendance with helpful briefing materials in advance. If they are scheduled for media interviews, provide a brief overview of the reporter’s background and links to recent articles. If the reporter is known to be difficult to work with, or has written unflattering pieces in the past, that should be included as well. There is nothing worse than being blindsided in an interview. This applies to both PR staff as well the person being interviewed. Research the reporters coming to the event so you know who to watch out for. Look them up on LinkedIn and study their social media.
Briefing materials can also include a weather report and suggested attire; if the event requires close-toed shoes or a tuxedo, state that clearly.
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Read the situation from the client’s point of view.
• It’s important to understand the client’s goals and expectations. What does success look like for them? The tactical execution must ‘mirror’ that.
• If branding and logo placements are a priority, then staff should make every effort to ensure that media have unobstructed views to take photos. If they are hoping for strong social media engagement, then all staff should be snapping pics, retweeting and tagging the client in posts.
• If the CEO of the organization is in attendance, make sure to capture plenty of pictures that they can post to their personal social media as well.
Read the situation from the media’s point of view.
It’s essential to understand the media’s motivations and expectations. If a TV news crew has been dispatched to your event, then the producers have deemed it worthy over thousands of other PR pitches. So, it must deliver strong visuals and a compelling narrative.
Media accommodations should be a priority. Reserve parking spaces near the entrance and have a staff member shadow them (but know when to back off). Print out all press materials and have a Dropbox link ready to email at a moment’s notice. Identify on-camera spokespeople well in advance; hopefully, they will be media trained to deliver the organization’s desired key messages. Reporters and camera crews should have a clear, easy path to get the shots and interviews they need.
Troubleshoot before the event starts.
Technology has a pesky habit of failing us at inopportune moments. If possible, visit the event site to verify there is cell phone reception and all your AV needs are met. Find all the electrical outlets and point them out to guests. Bring extra chargers and cables. Don’t be caught flat-footed when a reporter asks for the WiFi password.
Broadcast news crews are particularly sensitive to these issues. So, if you can make their job easier, the likelier you are to secure great coverage.
Be memorable, and not for the wrong reasons.
People always remember the helpful, friendly staff who go out of their way to accommodate them. Your personal scope of work should include being social and making conversation with strangers. Get comfortable with making small talk, especially with reporters. Junior staff especially can shine here.
Don’t be remembered for all of the wrong reasons, such as:
…showing up late, and then proceeding to inform everyone that you’re hungover.
…refusing to look up from your phone, while others are chatting and socializing.
… exposing yourself as uninformed and useless when reporters ask you for help.
This is a partial list only. Need some help with your next event? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.