These days, media (i.e, magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, online outlets, etc) is doing a whole lot more with far less. For you as a show promoter, that is “good news.” Now is a great time to get your collectible show, car show, military-themed event, or any other “weekend activity” noticed. Here are some tips on how you can do that:
Contacting the Media 101
Perhaps the greatest misunderstanding in promoting any sort of event is that you simply send a "press release" to a news outlet and they'll rush over a reporter to cover it. It doesn't work that way. Unless you follow some “rules,” your event isn't likely to get noticed.
While a “press release” is often used as a general announcement about an upcoming event, most local newspapers, TV stations, and magazines will want things a bit more formal than just an email. And, they're going to want it in the proper format.
There are some basic formats for different coverage goals:
1. The “Media Alert”
When you're looking to get your upcoming show or event mentioned in any TV, radio station, newspaper, magazine, web listing, etc. you don't actually want to send a press release. Rather you want to send a “media alert.”
Sometimes called a "Who, What, Where, When," it is a simple-to-read, “just the facts,” one-page document. It might seem similar to an invitation, as it is sort of an invitation. Here is a how it should be written:
Upcoming Militaria Show Brings Collectors From Near and Far
What: The Old Guard Military Society, the oldest collectibles club devoted to the preservation of historic artifacts, is hosting its annual autumn show.
Where: The 500-table event, which will attract dealers from around the known galaxy, will be held at the Light Guard Armory, Street, City, State, Zip
When: The event will be open to the public from 9am to 5pm Saturday.
Contact: Your name here, with phone number and email.
2. The Press Release
The goal of the media alert is to keep it simple. It isn't really to get the media outlet to report about your event, but to put it on their radar. It could show up listed (for free) in a calendar section, and if the event sounds interesting enough, there are chances that a reporter might be sent.
If your event has something really special, then you should send a press release.
A press release is it should be written as a mini-news story. Many local news stories are essentially re-written press releases, and many online outlets even run press releases as “news" content.” Include one or two photos of reasonable resolution (e.g., 900 x 1200 pixels) with short captions that the editor can use.
Again, the key again is writing it well. Here is a sample of the basic parts of a press release:
For Immediate Release (you always include this unless the news is embargoed, as in held for a latter time)
Upcoming Militaria Show Brings Collectors From Near and Far
The Old Guard Military Society Hosts 500-table of the Season
(City and Date) – The Old Guard Military Society is holding their upcoming 500-table collectible show at the (WHERE AND WHEN). This annual event attracts collectors from near and far. This year's show is expected to see museum worthy collectibles offered for sale including (if you know a dealer has something special mention it here).
"We're pleased to be leading the efforts to preserve history and also to make it accessible," said the (Show Promoter). "Our annual show features objects that you are unlikely to find in any museum, and the great part about this show is that if you like it – and have enough money – you bring it home with you."
Today there are no surviving World War I veterans, and sadly we're losing the last of the Greatest Generation, but events such as this 500-table show also serve to educate the youth of today. The World Wars that preserved our freedoms aren't just the thing of video games and movies, and this show offers a chance to experience history first hand.
"I'm so pleased to attend this event," said (Dealer), who regularly attends similar events around the country. "This isn't just a business to me, this is about respecting the history."
In recent years, some of the artifacts offered for sale have been seen as controversial, but as the Old Guard Military Society explains, this isn't about paying homage to any illicit regime such as those of Nazi Germany, the Confederacy or the Taliban but rather a way to expand our appreciation for the sacrifices of those who fought to ensure our way of life. At the same time, the organization understands the cultural sensitivities of some of these objects, and our officers are present to help explain how these are presented in the proper context.
(Boilerplate) The Old Guard Military Society was founded in 2001 and has more than 15 members from around the world. It is the oldest collectible organization devoted the preservation of historic artifacts.
Contact: NAME, EMAIL, PHONE
Note the Difference
While both the media alert and the press release are very basic, it is important to recognize that they are not interchangeable. While a media needs to be sent out prior to the event, a press release can also be sent out after to highlight that show saw the sale of fantastic items, drew in dealers from around the world, etc.
If an outlet is looking for additional coverage — even if a reporter wasn't sent — there is a chance your event could get some coverage if the press release provides the key details that can be easily reworked for a short feature.
3. The Pitch Letter
There is another way to reach the media: the “pitch letter,” though it is something that generally isn't used as much in the age of email. A pitch letter is a more personalized press release directed to an individual. It generally doesn’t include quotes, Instead, it calls the reader to action.
Today, it is acceptable to reach out to an individual editor or reporter with a quick a pitch that accompanies your press release. Again, it should include a call to action, and it can expand beyond the key points made in the press release. As an example:
Dear Reporter (Use their name)
I'm reaching out today to see if you might have interest in attending our 500-table collectibles show. It is the largest show of its kind in this area, and we'd like to invite you to consider this for upcoming coverage. If you are interested in speaking to one the club's officers or show promoters please let me know. Additionally, we invite you to come to the show and a private tour of the show. Introduction to our dealers can be arranged.
Bottom Line: Get NOTICED
Make it easy for the media to cover event and chances are you might get that all important coverage. The goal of these efforts is to get the media to cover the event, and ideally to put it in a good light. There is a reason you'll see that local car show, model train, or cheerleader competition in the newspaper or evening news. Someone took the time to reach out and let the media know.
The opportunity is there for your event to be in that featured. It just requires reaching out — in the right way.
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