Six ways to get publications to cover your event

published on Jun 15, '16


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At SceneSquid, we interact with a lot of event bloggers and calendar editors. Over the last couple years, we’ve been privy to their pet peeves and frustrations in dealing with event PR.

These bloggers and editors are the gatekeepers of consumer access, the thought-leaders of your potential attendees. And all of them want to know about local events…but only events relevant to their editorial taste and readers.

The thing to remember is that most of these curators are slammed with 100+ emails and press releases a day (with some seeing more than 400 per day). Many of these emails are irrelevant because promoters and marketers don’t have the time, and more specifically, don’t have efficient ways to target outreach. For an editor, your inbox = terror. It not only feeds you leads, but stuffs them down your throat. Even if an event is a perfect match for a paper’s readers, it’s questionable whether the correspondence will be noticed, since curators and editors must prioritize efficiency and filtering just to survive the day. So to help both parties, we compiled a list of some of the best practices you can use when promoting your event to local media:

  1. Write clear and compelling headlines Curators scan their inbox for a few things – a unique subject line, someone they know, a venue / area they like, and/or keywords that relate to their interests. Having the date always helps too, as the writer may be like “oh wow, that times perfectly for next week, and I don’t have anything cool for that Thursday” and fit you in. Example: “Hopscotch and human jenga during Super Bowl pre-party in downtown DC, Feb 2”.
  2. Start with the hook The last thing an editor wants to do is read your lengthy boring press release. Close them in the first two sentences of your email by telling them “why someone should attend this event,” and be straight up. Avoid the marketing lingo. Example“This is a wine-tasting event held in an up-and-coming gallery after hours, and will have funk musicians performing in the background. The event will have a relaxed vibe and should appeal to late 20s and 30s urbanites, music and wine fans, and the occasional hipster. Great for date nights.”  
  3. Write from the third person Editors and writers are crunched for time, so make their job easy. Don’t make them have to rewrite your content! Write descriptions from the 3rd person…no I’s, you’s, or we’s. Use formal pronouns – the names of the artists, the venues, etc. This saves bloggers time, which makes them like you.
  4. Avoid spray and pray Yes, you should absolutely submit your event to as many relevant publications as possible. But the key word here is relevant. If your events vary in content or theme, be mindful of copy and pasting an old PR email list. This type of behavior invariably sends your event to irrelevant publications or writers, who may start to see you as spam. The last thing you want is to damage your name with a publication because you were too lazy to do some targeting around where your eblast goes. There’s a time and place for every event.
  5. The earlier you promote, the better A lot of publications have deadlines. Do not wait until the last minute to promote when ticket sales are lagging. It sounds like common sense, but time and again we see organizations wait until its too late. A good rule is two months out. That’s early enough to fit into most editorial timelines (many print deadlines fall between 3 and 6 weeks out), but not so far out that you’ll be forgotten.
  6. Followup While some publications need events far in advance, others only decide to cover you a week beforehand or the week of. So don’t forget to followup! Use a tool like SceneSquid Boomerang manage your outreach and follow up with writers automatically. When following up, if you’ve had a cool development with your event (a new speaker, musician, exclusive sponsor, etc), use it as a brief update to reinforce your event’s awesomeness with the writer.

Lastly, don’t forget the details! Time and again, publications tell us that when they do find an event that interests them, it’s often missing key information like price, start times, the address or a photo. Don’t be that promoter.