You’ve done all the work, now get the word out! This final post in the three-part series, Getting a Great Turnout, focuses on coordinating an effective media strategy, including the importance of a press release and media advisory, and taking advantage of your social media tools or other network resources. (Note: Some of you may already have the benefit of having a dedicated media person, but if your outfit is small and you are doing most of the heavy lifting on your own, you’ll likely benefit from these tips!)
Press release vs. media advisory?
If you are interested in having media attend your event to provide local news coverage about the event itself, plan to prepare a press release for your local newspapers, television, radio stations, and other organizations engaged in supporting your event. The purpose of this written statement is to provide information that persuades the media to cover your event and gives them appropriate content to help inform other audiences about the event. It can be up to two pages in length (although shorter is usually preferred), with a catchy headline, a description about the event’s purpose, and key details such as a follow up contact name and release date.
A media advisory is an abbreviated form of a press release that gets sent to local media as an invitation. You can send an advisory a few weeks prior to the event, but it’s most effective sent the day before or early the day of the event. The advisory reminds the media about the event by providing basic facts, often following the “Five W rule” – who, what, when, where and why. The media advisory should also be shared widely with local newspapers, magazines, and television stations. For a recent example of a media advisory, check out the U.S. Department of the Interior’s announcement on the Cohesive Strategy Final Phase.
The Coalition for the Upper South Platte, one the primary organizers for the recent Wildfire Preparedness Kick-Off Event in Woodland Park, Colorado followed this strategy. Many local media outlets promoted the public event in advance, sharing highlights about the content and meeting information. They also crafted an excellent media advisory, which was sent to media and partners before the event to remind them of the key details. Given their great turnout of over 150 residents, this effort clearly paid off!
It’s always a good idea to post or tweet about your event, although social media will likely complement your other outreach efforts rather than replace them. Borrow the catchy headline from your press release and add relevant images to your Facebook post to make it look appealing to your audience. Highlight the great interactive agenda you created and the engaging keynote speaker you invited!
Don’t be shy about sharing these media resources with your coordinating partners or other local organizations. Even if they haven’t been involved with the planning they will likely want to show their support by helping spread the word – giving them something quick and easy to share will increase that likelihood.
Finally, be sure to share the success of your event! It’s important that people hear about the buzz – post pictures, write blogs (see our own blog for two recent FAC Learning Network examples from New Mexico and North Lake Tahoe!), and offer summaries or follow up information. The folks that didn’t attend will be sure not to miss it again.