Provided by Marilee Driscoll, Marketing and PR Consultant, LTC Consciousness
SCRIPT FOR STEVE MOSES EVENT
"Hi. Iím calling about an event to be held on DAY, DATE, that is of great interest to your readers/viewers. With the upcoming election, health care and how to pay for it is in the limelight. One aspect of this is how the government will pay for nursing home care and home health care. Medicare and Social Security are under strain, but most people arenít aware that their grandmaís nursing home bill isnít paid by either one of these programs, and nursing home residents care is in jeopardy under the current system. The countryís leading expert on long-term care financing is coming to (TOWN) on (DAY, DATE), as a stop on a grass-roots tour, complete with a Silver Airstream trailer that makes a great visual backdrop for television. Who would I talk to about getting coverage for the event?"
HOW TO PROMOTE A LOCAL OR REGIONAL EVENT
Like all media, the key to getting media coverage of a local event, is to make a pitch that is newsworthy. Newsworthy means that the event is a match for what the media outlet looks for. What do they look for? Something that is of interest to their audience. Youíve heard the phrase "If it bleeds, it leads," meaning that gory accidents, crimes and natural disasters will always trump other news. Assuming that there will be no blood at your event (!), how do you get the mediaís attention?
Your pitch needs to tap into one of these categories: ENTERTAINING/AMUSING or ESSENTIAL INFORMATION. And, if itís not entertaining or amusing, it should be tied directly to lifestyle or money. Lastly, tie your pitch to at least one of the two biggest motivators: fear or greed. How do you do this? Ah, thatís where the pixie dust comes inÖthe blend of art and science where we look at how the media covers things, and concoct just the right mix of facts, headlines, scenarios, and (maybe) visuals to reel in a producer or editor. No time to teach all that here, but thereís good information below.
DECIDING WHO TO PITCH
The best pitch wonít go anywhere if it lands in the wrong email or voicemail box. One of the easiest places to get coverage is the "Business News" area of the paper, which is a roundup of submitted items. You can almost always get your letter printed in the Letter to The Editor area, and get your upcoming event listed in the Calendar section. What we are gunning for, in addition, is coverage, with preferable, a photo, in the "regular" part of the paper, where all the regular news is covered.
BEFORE OR AFTER THE EVENT?
Newspapers have upcoming calendars where you can submit your event. If you have a great visual element to your pitch (Goodyear blimp coming to Our Town!, for example), you increase the likelihood that they will run your photo along with information on the upcoming event. Television doesnít have a calendar section, with the exception of some local cable TV access stations.
What you are hoping for is a combination of pre-event publicity and post-event coverage. Hereís how you can make this happen:
4-8 weeks Pre-event Scan the calendar section of the newspaper. That section normally lists who to contact to get an event listed. (You may also want to check your local Rotary Club, Tourism department if you have one, and local clubs with a tie-in to your topic, all may help you promote and event.
1-2 weeks Pre-event Call the newspaperís main number, and ask for the news desk. Have a 2-3 sentence pitch, designed to grab their interest. You are asking for a reporter and a photographer to cover your event. For example: "Hi. Iím calling about an event to be held on DAY, DATE, that is of great interest to your readers. (WHY). Who would I talk to about having a reporter and a photographer come to the event?" (LISTEN to answer, and act appropriately!). NEVER assume they listen to a voicemail. Do not leave more than one unanswered voicemail; keep calling until you get them in person.
1 week to 2 days Pre-event Find the telephone number of your major television affiliates (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, etc.). These can easily be found by doing an internet search with words such as: "ABC news (city, state)." Call them with the same pitch that you use for the newspapers, keeping in mind there are 2 important variables that can determine whether or not they show up:
Breaking news that day can bump any scheduled segment;
If your event is a long drive from the station, that minimizes the chance theyíll cover you. Tactics such as inviting a high-profile politician or company president can help make your event more newsworthy.
Call all affiliates, the same way that you would contact all newspapers. If you contact 4 or 5, hopefully, one will show up!
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