For starters, there are several main components to a press event:
- The news—what are you announcing
- The location, including staging—where are you holding the event
- The message—how are you communicating the news
1. The News
Before you agree or recommend that you hold a press event, make sure you have news to announce that local media will want to cover in person. Increasingly, newsrooms have smaller and smaller staffs and are less able to devote resources to every development. If you feel like your news is significant but does not rise to the level of an event, use a news release instead and save yourself and your organization the time and expense of holding a press event.
Choosing who will deliver your news is often made for you. If the CEO wants to be the spokesperson, the decision is made for you. But, are there roles for other staff? Do you have a patient or advocate who can play a role? It’s best to limit the number of spokespeople to a manageable number—remember that reporters who do attend your event may have time for only one or two interviews with key staff or spokespeople.
3. Press Materials
Writing a media alert serves as an excellent way to invite the media. Note the main points of interest are upfront and background and boilerplate information is at the bottom. Media alerts should have a date and contact information.
Where you hold an event is almost as important as the news you are announcing. Does the announcement connect with a certain location or does it make more sense to hold it at your office?
Make sure there is enough room to hold a podium, dais, and school room chair setting for 20 to 30 attendees and room in the back for TV cameras. Consider investing in a multi-box that allows broadcast media to plug into and access the feed from the podium.
5. The Message
Just as important as the news, the message consists of a boiled-down version of your main news. What is the main point you want to make and what does this announcement say about your organization’s values? Your messages should be used in all communications and marketing materials that are part of the event.
When crafting modern key messages, keep in mind they should be:
- Focused on the audiences’ interests and pain points, not just your organization’s products/services
- Easy to understand, as brief as possible and free of buzz words
- 100% correct and verifiable
- Usable in all the tactics you’re planning for your client’s program/campaign
- Written with enough differentiation that they wouldn’t apply to your client’s competitors
Other issues to consider:
Make sure you fully leverage your social media channels to extend the broadcast power of your message. Consider using Facebook live to broadcast your event to your Facebook audience—the engagement you’ll receive will be strong and you’ll have a video copy of the event available should you need to use it for another purpose down the road.
After the event, re-merchandise the press coverage you earn on your social media channels and internal emails or intranet.
Multimedia and supporting documents—have your fact sheets, logos, b-roll video footage and other images prepared in advance for distribution at the press event. Put them all on a thumb drive with your organization’s logo for easy storage and access. Prepare an event news release summarizing your story that you can distribute onsite to media attending the event.
Press Event Checklist
Here’s a handy checklist to help you stay organized and on track:
- What is your news?
- Do you have a spokesperson or spokespersons?
- Where will you hold the event?
- What is your message?
- What other supporting items will help the reporter cover your story?
- What is your follow up?