Prepare for the unexpected, Katrina Healy an account director at AKHIA, Ohio gives her best practice techniques for event media relations

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I’ve had the opportunity to manage and immerse myself in media relations around a variety of events, including product launches in manufacturing facilities; a home and garden show in its first and second years in a new market; and regional events for North East Ohio community influencers. Along the way I’ve learned, with overwhelming clarity, that the unexpected always happens, even if you manage the heck out of every detail. In fact – oddly enough – the detail you worry and stress most about often ends up not being an issue at all … because something completely unexpected overshadows it!

Luckily, I’ve learned a few best practices along the way that have proven valuable, no matter the type of event:

  • Be willing to invest time into creating a media experience. A charismatic spokesperson won’t hold your audience’s attention. The media want something to see and shoot for photos, video and social posts. Maybe it’s a contest, a guided tour, a trends preview or simply B-roll. Just try to avoid a talking head, if you can!
  • Get to know the media outlets in the local market. What is their reputation? What types of events do they typically cover? What is their reporting style? If news of an opening gets in the wrong hands, it can go from a feel-good story to sensationalism in no time. This isn’t to say pitching media in an unfamiliar market isn’t doable, but you don’t want to end up relying on the client for local media intel—this would defeat the purpose of having an expert media relations team on hand.
  • When it comes to broadcast media, it helps to essentially write the segments (how you see them taking shape) and send them to the producer. This ties back to knowing the media—you need to understand the flow of the show or programme you are pitching. Know how many on-camera opportunities there will be, how long they last and where they fall, and use that knowledge to shape your vision. This makes the producer’s job a lot easier, and you’ll be more likely to garner the coverage you seek.
  • When you’re with the media at a grand opening event or site tour, pay careful attention to their non-verbal cues. You might be tempted to tag along with them as they explore the space, not letting them out of your sight for a second. Meanwhile, their non-verbals are telling you they just want to be left to poke around alone and let the story take shape in their brain, uninterrupted. We certainly need to take care of the media and address their needs, but giving them space, if that’s what they need, can result in event coverage that’s even better than expected.

Event media relations can be exhilarating and rewarding, even if there’s no such thing as a flawlessly executed event. When the coverage hits and more consumers are exposed to the news and/or event than your client could have imagined, be sure to examine the steps that led to success so you can tap into these experiences while planning your next event.

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