Your Partnership and the Media - Elements of a Successful Media Event or Conference

As explained in the Help Sheet Your Partnership and the Media - Media Conferences and Events, available at the partnerships Brokerage Section of the Our Community website, a media event requires some thought, planning and work to ensure it successfully attracts coverage and gets your message across to the public.

The following list provides some aspects of a successful community business partnership media event, and some tips on how to achieve them.

Hold your event in the right place.
  • Think about what your partnership is announcing or promoting in the event, and decide what sort of location and backdrop would be most appropriate and most eye-catching.
    • If your event is publicising the improvements your partnership has made to a park, use the park as a backdrop. If it is about the partnership's success in raising money and awareness for the community group, stage the event at the community group's headquarters or where they do their work.
  • Scope out the location beforehand.
    • If it is inside at a hall, venue or business make sure you can use the area and that it is not double booked, and that the acoustics of the venue are good. If not, consider hiring a sound system or going elsewhere.
    • If it is outside, make sure it can be easily accessed, and that there is cover in case the weather is not good. Also make there is nothing in the outside location that will ruin the event – and that can be anything from some inappropriate graffiti, a wandering animal or swooping magpie, or signs like "no standing" or "exit" that may look silly in a photo.
  • Also make sure the location can cater for the crowd you are expecting to invite.

When should we hold our event?
  • Scheduling your event to maximise media coverage is vital. To do so, you have to know which media you are targeting or inviting to the event.
    • If you are targeting your local weekly media, find out which two days are their quietest and work from there. For example – if the local newspaper comes out on a Tuesday, the deadline for most things will be Friday, and the quietest days will probably be Tuesday and Wednesday.
    • Arranging a suitable time is also important in working with local journalists – don't organise something too early in the morning, or too late in the afternoon.
    • If you are targeting daily press or electronic coverage, arrange a suitable time. Mid-morning is probably best, so as to provide plenty of time for the story to be prepared in time for the evening television news.

Who should we invite?
  • Making sure you've invited the right people is vital – but who are the right people?
    • Journalists: Obviously, considering this is a media event, members of the media should be invited. Partnership groups can target which journalists they invite – and therefore which media outlets run the story – by working through their media contacts list. For help on preparing a media contacts list, refer to the "Your Partnership and the Media – Media Contacts" Help Sheet, available at Our Community's website.
    • Partnership members: Inviting your partnership groups' members can help provide some good atmosphere for your event, as well as making sure they are involved in the day.
    • Guests: It might also be good to invite notable "VIPs", especially those who have expressed an interest in the project or who have offered it support. These VIPs could be politicians, local councillors or heads of community, business or industry bodies relevant to you. If they do attend, thank them for doing so.

Those other "little things".
Ample preparation and the inclusion of a few other "little things" can also make a big difference to the success of your media event.
  • Prepare and follow up media invitations and notifications.
    • Send out your media invitations and alerts the week before the event to individual journalists or editors/chiefs-of-staff
    • Your media alert will contain the basic information - maybe a teaser line on what you are announcing and details answering the questions of who, what, where, when and why.
    • Closer to the event call any of them who haven't responded so you can assess how many are likely to attend.
  • Prepare and distribute media kits.
    • A media kit can be simple - just containing a press release to coincide with your event – or more detailed - including a photo, graphics, a full report if that is what you are releasing, information about your group, and fact sheets. Of course, it should also include your contact details.
    • The time it takes to compile a media kit before the event varies depending on how detailed it is going to be. But once you have prepared them, ensure journalists receive them by either having them on a table at the entrance of the venue or by someone handing them out as journalists arrive.
  • Nametags.
    • Key partnership personnel should wear nametags to identify them to guests and the media.
  • Props.
    • Any props – for example, a banner or backdrop advertising your partnership, or a lectern for speakers – should be arranged in advance and erected at the venue or site before the media and guests arrive.
  • Business cards.
    • Those involved in your partnership could have business cards ready to give to any interested guests or media.
    • For those involved in smaller partnerships, those cards don't need to have fancy logos and colours – they can even just be business cards for members' normal daytime jobs, as long as they include the person's name and contact details.

How long should it go for?
  • A good, relatively quick (but not rushed) event or conference is the way to go.
    • Try to start on time, and try to keep the number of speakers to a minimum.
    • Allow time for questions and interviews afterwards.
  • Remember though to do your homework –
    • Prepare answers for questions you may be asked. Don't allow yourself to be caught off-guard and say something you did not want to say to the media.
    • Prepare and practice some short, sharp sound bites or quotes to use when being interviewed by the media. They will be more likely to use these statements, ensuring what you say in them gets out to a wider audience.
    • Finally if you don't have the exact details or answer to a question from the media, say to them you will get back to them. Then, find out the answer and do exactly that.

A note on providing food or drinks.
  • While you can certainly provide refreshments to those attending your media event, think twice before paying for or preparing a big catered function - except in the case of a very big turnout.
    • Journalists might grab a quick bite or two to eat, but many - particularly busy local journalists - will not have time to make more than a small dent in your carefully laid-out food platter – meaning time and money wasted for you.

Following up with those who didn't attend.
  • If some of the media contingent were unable to attend, send your news releases and media pack to them after your media event is finished.