Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > Holding a Media Conference or Media Event Part 2

Holding a Media Conference or Media Event Part 2


The first part of this help sheet looked at   organising and staging a media event or conference and listed ways to help ensure its success in attracting coverage and getting your message across to the public.

A successful event or conference is one which results in the media communicating your message as news or editorial content.  Gaining coverage in the media will save your group time and money which would otherwise have to be spent on advertising and other forms of publicity.

This help sheet looks at some elements of a successful media event or conference, as well as exploring some of the ways your group or organisation can achieve success in a cost-effective and time-effective way.


Hold your event in the right location

What is your community group announcing, calling for or promoting?
Now think about what sort of backdrop would be most appropriate or eye-catching.
  • The easiest way to do this is to think about setting the event in a location directly related to the announcement.
    • For example, if your group is announcing the completion of improvement works at a local park, or rehabilitation of a waterway, then the sites themselves are logical locations for an event.
    • Similarly - if your group is looking for volunteers or new members, hold your event in a spot where the work of volunteers or members has been of benefit.
    • If you are looking for donations, have your event somewhere which showcases the work donations have allowed your group to do.
    • Another option, if it is a formal event or announcement, is to host the event at your group's headquarters or offices.



Investigate the location before the event

Always visit your location before deciding if it is suitable for your media event.
  • If it's inside:
    • Make sure you can use the area and that it is not double booked.
    • Test the acoustics – if they are not good, consider hiring a sound system or going elsewhere.
    • Make sure you have access to all the visual or technological aids you require – projectors, PowerPoint presentation requirements, lighting, podium, etc.
    • Check that it's OK put up banners or your own branding.
  • If it's outside:
    • Make sure it can be easily accessed.
    • Make sure there is cover in case the weather is bad.
    • Also check that there is nothing at the location that could ruin your event.  That can be anything from some inappropriate graffiti, wandering animals, swooping magpies, or signs like "no standing" or "exit" that may look silly in a photo.
  • Finally, be sure the location can cater for the crowd you are expecting.



When to hold your event

The timing of your event is vital.
The key is to schedule it to maximise the media coverage your group receives and the extent to which your message gets out to the public.
  • To schedule things correctly you have to know which media you are targeting and inviting to the event.
    • If you are inviting members of your local media, find out their two quietest days and work from there.
      • For example, if the local newspaper comes out on a Tuesday, the deadline will probably be Friday and the quietest days will probably be Tuesday and Wednesday. Check with them.
      • Arranging a suitable time is also important in working with local journalists – it may not be convenient for some journalists to attend an event too early in the morning, or too late in the afternoon, even on their "quieter days".
    • If you are targeting daily press or electronic coverage, mid-morning may well be best as this allows plenty of time for them to prepare the story for the evening news.



Who should we invite?

You've got to invite the "right people" and those include:
  • The media:
    • It is important to correctly target the media you invite either as individual journalists or organisations and this can be done by working through your media contact list. For more information about creating and using a media contact list, refer to the help sheets:
  • Group members/volunteers/helpers/supporters/donors:
    • Inviting those linked to your group is just as essential as inviting the media. Not only can they provide atmosphere for the event, but it makes sure they feel involved in what your group does.
  • Other guests:
    • It might also be a good idea to invite some VIPs - especially those who have expressed an interest in what your group does.
    • The VIPs could be politicians, local councillors or heads of community, business or industry bodies relevant to you. Send them invitations and if they attend, remember thank them.



Those other "little things"

They say "it's the little things that count" and when it comes to organising a media event or conference details are important. Remembering those little things can make a big difference to the success of your group's media event.

Some of those little things include:
  • Preparing and following up media invitations and notifications.
    • Send out your media invitations and alerts about a week before the event or conference to individual journalists or editors/chiefs-of-staff
    • Your media alert will contain the basic information – the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW of the event – and maybe a teaser line on what you are announcing to get the media interested.
    • 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 a press release to coincide with your event, or if more detailed, could include a photo; graphics; a full report of that is what you are releasing; information about your group; and fact sheets. Of course, it must 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 having someone hand them out as they arrive.
    • Finally, if you've decided to put together some kits, make sure you have a few extra, to cater for any latecomers or unexpected demand.
  • Nametags.
    • Key personnel in your group or organisation should have nametags to make sure people coming to the event can identify them.
    • The nametags don't have to be fancy, but should contain the person's name, spelt correctly, their position and organisation.
  • Props.
    • Any props – for example, a banner or backdrop advertising or a lectern for speakers should be arranged in advance and erected before the media and guests arrive.
  • Business cards.
    • Your group's members should have business cards to hand to any guests or the media who attend. Alternatively, cards can be included in media kits if you are preparing some.
    • For smaller groups, who may not have printed cards, can at a pinch, have members' use business cards from their normal daytime jobs, as long as they include the person's name and contact details.



How long should it go for?

  • Generally speaking, a relatively quick, but not obviously rushed event or conference is the way to go.
    • Start on time and try to keep the number of speakers to a minimum.
    • It is important to allow time for questions and interviews afterwards.
  • Remember to do your homework –
    • Prepare some general answers for the more obvious 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, so ensure what you say in them is what you want to get out to a wider audience.
      • This can be where having practiced a good 'lift speech' can come in handy – for more information on lift speeches, refer to the Developing a 'lift speech' help sheet.
    • Finally if you don't have exact details or an answer to a question from the media, tell 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, your group should think twice before paying for or preparing a big catered function - except in the case of a very big event.
    • Journalists, particularly busy local journalists will not have time to eat much more than a quick bite, meaning you've wasted time and money.
    • If your group is on a tight budget, spending money on catering that is not going to be eaten is not wise.



Following up with those who didn't attend

The final thing to remember about staging a media event or conference is to follow up with people afterwards and to do so in a timely manner.

If some journalists or media organisations you invited were unable to turn up, a press release about what the event focussed on should be sent to them as soon as possible (this is where your media contact list again comes in handy) and offer to be available for interviews and possibly a photo opportunity at select times afterwards.

You could also arrange to send them one of your media packs as well so they are brought up to speed with everything.



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