Maker Party/Communications/Press Kit
Media coverage can be an essential part of promoting an event, or of showing off what you did afterward. This kit should give you guidelines for how to go about reaching out to the media.
- 1 Getting Press Before Your Event:
- 2 What To Do On The Day Of Your Event:
- 3 What To Do Once Your Event Is Over:
Getting Press Before Your Event:
Want to try and get press coverage before an event? Here's a quick checklist of everything you need to know.
Know your hook
Think about why a reporter would want to cover your event. Are you doing something unexpected? Is someone notable attending? Are you doing something that could be a great news story? Is there a tie-in to a current breaking news story or trend?
Reporters often need to know the "angle" to cover a story, so help them out and think of one before inviting them.
Build Your Media List
Know the landscape: Before doing any media outreach, it's important to know the landscape: who are your local reporters? What outlets cover events? Who might be interested in what you're doing? Knowing what the landscape is like ahead of time will help you with your outreach. It's OK to think outside of the box. Sometimes there's an unexpected angle to which reporters might be interested—for instance, a science reporter might be interested in coming to your event because you're teaching kids how to build a robot.
Who to reach out to: Once you know the landscape, you can start building the list of which reporters you want to reach out to. Think about who might be interested and why. A few suggestions:
- Events calendars. Most local news outlets or alternative papers have a community events calendar or events listing.
- Local newspaper reporters. Does your local paper have someone who covers community news and events? Add them to your list.
- Local wires. If you live in a big enough city, there will generally be at least one reporter for a newswire (AP, Reuters, AFP, etc) stationed there.
- Alternative weeklies. Most cities have some kind of alternative newsweekly. These tend to have robust events coverage and listings, so make sure you add not just their calendar but their reporters to your press list.
- Local TV stations. Local TV stations will often cover events, especially if they have great visuals.
- Local radio stations.
- Local magazines.
- Local blogs.
- TV and Radio Newsdesks: Most TV (and radio) stations have what's called a newsdesk—a central place that decides what the important stories of the day are, and assigns reporters to cover them.
How to reach them: Events calendars always list the way to submit an event, and many newsites these days list reporters' contact information right on their website. If they don't, a quick google search can sometimes turn up how a reporter has posted to get in touch with them.
If you can't figure out how to get in touch with someone, don't fret: that's what the phone book is for. Call up the outlet you want to reach, tell them you're throwing an event you think they'd be interested in and ask what the best way is to send them information. Remember—they want to find out about local news and interesting things happening.
If all else fails, there's always social media. Many reporters keep an active twitter account, and use that as a way to communicate directly with readers. Don't be afraid to reach out to a journalist directly in that medium. Just be careful not to overdo it—if you don't hear back from a reporter after reaching out on Twitter three times, chances are they don't want to hear from you there.
Write a Press Release
A press release gives reporters all the information they need to know about your event. It should be short, concise, and clearly list all the information a reporter might want to know—why this is newsworthy, what the details are, etc.
For more help on how to write a press release, check out our Press Release Template
Write a pitch
In addition to a press release, you should write a short pitch to each journalist you're reaching out to. This is your personal note to the reporter, and should clearly outline why you think they specifically would be interested in this story.
Here are a few tips to writing a good pitch:
- Don't be afraid to be personal—if there's a reason you're reaching out to them specifically, mention it.
- Clearly outline what the "story" is. Say upfront what makes this new, news, unexpected, or noteworthy.
- Mention all the things a reporter can do, people they can interview, or assets you'll have.
- Have a clear ask. What do you want the reporter to do? Write about your event beforehand? Cover the event the day of? Interview someone? Know ahead of time, and ask it upfront.
- Keep it short. Your pitch should be no more than five sentences—maybe six.
- Be polite. And nice. Journalists are overworked and harried. No one likes to get a rude or presumptuous email.
- Always paste everything into the body of an email. NEVER send an attachment. Ever.
When and How to Reach Out:
These days most reporters prefer to hear from you via email—never via snail mail or fax. However it's always good to check with a reporter what their preferred method of contact is.
Generally it's best practice to email a press release and personalized pitch directly to each individual reporter, and then to follow up with a phone all a few days later.
When to reach out:
- Monthly magazines: 3-6 months beforehand (but their websites are shorter).
- Events Calendars: 4 weeks beforehand.
- Weekly papers or magazines: 3 weeks beforehand.
- Individual reporters: 2 weeks beforehand.
- News reporters: 1 week beforehand.
- Blogs: 1 week beforehand.
- Radio: 3 days beforehand.
- TV and radio Newsdesks: 1 day beforehand.
Use Social Media
Using social media to get people excited about your event is a great way to drum up interest. Check out our Social Media Guide for more tips and tricks.
What To Do On The Day Of Your Event:
Invited press to cover your event? Make sure you're prepared.
Before an event, determine who's going to play what role with the media. You should identify people for the following (and yes, one person can fill more than one role):
- Spokesperson: be the official voice of the event.
- Press check-in: keep track of which reporters arrive and make sure they have all the materials they need.
- Interesting story: is there someone there who has a compelling story? Have them talk to a reporter
Additionally, you should know who at your event is and isn't comfortable talking to reporters, or being photographed or filmed.
Know What You're Going to Say
Brainstorm all the questions that could come up, and prepare how you'll respond to them. Also have a quick clear and concise description of what your event is.
Prepare Your Materials
You should have:
- Printed copies of your press release, a fact sheet, FAQ, etc.
- Any additional information that might be relevant (how many people showed up for the event, etc)
- A clear way to get in touch with you once the event is over.
Greet Reporters When They Arrive
When a reporter arrives, introduce yourself to them, and ask if you can help them in any way.
Document Your Event
Tell the story of your event for everyone who can't be there! Live tweet the event, take photos, collect information, and even liveblog what's happening.
Make Sure There Are Good Visuals
TV reporters like to have what's called B-Roll: footage they can cut away to in a news story or use as a background. Make sure you have something interesting for them to film.
What To Do Once Your Event Is Over:
Congratulations! You've had a successful event. Now what?
Say Thank You
Follow up with any reporters who attended your event and thank them for coming. Additionally, if they asked you any questions or for more information, make sure you send them those resources.
Summarize What Happened
Pull together a quick summary of your event—how many people came, what happened, and the best examples of what you made. Then send that to every reporter you reached out to, whether or not they attended your event.
Tell us what happened too! Visit our Maker Party site to report out how your event went, and share any press coverage you got so we can promote it too.