PR Advice #2 – Events – Press Tours – Part 1
WARNING – Text heavy post but worth a read if you’re new to this.
Events are often a big part of PR, whether it’s in the form of a press tour, a launch event or a blogger event to help raise awareness of a brand and/ or client.
I love doing events, my stress levels tend to hit the roof the week it happens but it’s so worth it when it’s a success. Since starting my new role, I’ve organised blogger events on my own, and it’s sometimes been a struggle but both events I’ve organised have (I think!!) been great and they’ve raised a ridiculous amount of social and PR coverage.
I thought I’d put together a couple of tips on how to run a successful event for those of you who are new to it. This was originally going to be one blog post but it’s massive so I’ve split it into two; one on press tours and one on blogger/ launch events.
Before starting any event, you need to make sure (and I know it sounds corny) but you’ve got the following questions answered:
- What are you promoting?
- Is it a specific product? A brand? You need to know your company inside out so you can answer any questions fired at you
- Who is the target audience?
- Press? Bloggers? Lifestyle/ Parenting/ Beauty?
- When is the event taking place?
- Events don’t happen overnight, so make sure you have a decent amount of time to organise everything
- Where are you going to hold it?
- Location is so important. If it’s a blogger event, it’s fairly normal to pay for travel, so make it easy to get to. If it’s a press event, the big publishing houses are all in London so make that a priority unless you’re willing to pay for major travel
- Why are you doing this event?
- This question will help shape you’re event. If you’re looking for coverage only, it needs to be product focused, if you’re looking to build relationships, make a day/evening of it and incorporate an activity, you can normally kill two birds with one stone and keep clients happy
- How are you going to go about organising it?
- This is (hopefully) where my tips will come in handy!
NB* I’ve used Cosmopolitan as my example publication, but for journalist privacy I’ve kept their details undisclosed.
- Before you start sending out invites and calling press you need to clear with your client exactly what they want to promote and why. It’s normally a product (agency) or your brand (in-house), but it could be a new range rather than a single product or it could be a new company, so make sure you know what message you want to get across
- Spreadsheets will become your best friend. Before starting anything, pull together a ‘wish list’ press list of those that you would really like to attend – top tier in any sector depending on what your client wants. It’ll look like this:
- Once you’ve got this nailed for a press tour, create a spreadsheet with the following details; Time, Address, Publication House, Publication, Name, Email, Phone Number, Attending Y/N, Notes, This allows you to put all details, all publications, all locations and all timings into one easy-to-read document, and it can easily be read and understood by other members of any team. It should look like this:
- Thinking even further about this bit, travel needs to come into consideration. Train times, traffic, delays, line closures etc all happen on press tours (more often than any other days in my opinion) so factor in more travel time than needed to make sure you’ve got everything covered
- Draft your invite and remember the questions above, keep it short (you’re going into detail when you meet them), keep it informative and keep it to the point. Include images (if you have any) and suggest a time slot, rather than an exact time, especially if they’re in the same publishing house as you have the option to meet more than one magazine at one time if need be. You also need to think about a location of where you’re going to meet, coffee shops/ bars/ restaurants are always a good one but make sure you can show off your product/ brand properly in these locations, think about things like sound, if you need a plug, if you need light/dark areas or if you need wi-fi, as not all places will cater to this
- If they don’t come back to your email, follow up with a call, but leave a decent amount of time for them to actually come back to your emails. Sending an invite at 10:01am and calling at 10:02am isn’t going to help you at all
- If they can’t attend, make sure you keep hold of their details (if they’re interested), so you can send a press release on. If they can attend, make a note of it and move on to the next person to call
- When you’ve got everyone attending that physically can, it’s time to start organising materials – are you going to have press samples on the day or will you send this on? Is it feasible to carry around your product all day? Do you have enough petty cash for travel? Any drinks/ coffees for journalists? Are you leaving a press gift? Press packs need to include press release, images, contact details and company details if all are available
- FOLLOW UP. If a journalist has confirmed two weeks before the tour, you need to follow up with an email to confirm exact details closer to the day and include details of who will be attending as well as best contact number for yourself, if they don’t respond, drop them a call to check they received it, and then drop another courtesy call a couple of days before the day. Yes, it’s annoying to call so much but if you don’t and they drop out it looks bad on you
- Create an itinerary for yourself and your client. This includes: a full run down on what is happening on the day, including the spreadsheet above (remove email, phone number, attending and notes for the client copy, it can stay as yours as you might need these). Under this, list all publications you are visiting, with a brief outline of what the publication is, circulation/ unique monthly users and any journalist background information you know, so it’ll look something like this:
Make sure you send this to the client in advance, so if they have any questions they can come back to you
- On the day, make sure you are early for everything, it’s better to be early/ on time than late. Get your travel routes sorted so you know every line etc you need, and have a taxi number or Uber on your phone already, know the journalist you’re going to see and the publication they work on, and, if you can, make sure you research the most recent magazine issue before the meeting
- Be polite and professional with both the journalist and your client, you need to within hold your agencies/ brands image at all time and, at the end of the day, your behaviour reflects on you and it needs to be good
- Hopefully, the day should run smoothly, however that’s best case scenario. There is always the risk of drop outs, but as long as you’ve followed up and they’ve confirmed up until the time of the meeting, there is nothing you can do about it. Don’t move other people’s times around because one person is running late, it’s better to lose one journalist than the rest of your day. You can always ask to reschedule or drop in at another time, just remain calm and move on. You have your document with numbers and emails so you can always drop them a message saying you’ve had to leave/ asking if they would like to reschedule
- Depending on how forward-facing your client is, prepare to either be the spokesperson or take a back seat. Make sure to brief your client (if they are the front runner) on the journalist and publication before the meeting so they, too, know their audience. They will have the itinerary you sent over but sometimes a spoken brief is easier to take in than a written one
- Take a notebook and record anything of importance the journalist says in your meetings. If they think it’ll fit in for a specific feature, make sure you record the deadline day, if they say they don’t like the colour range, right it down, if they ask for a sample straight away, make a note, any info you can get – record it
- Once your press tour is complete, you can relax. It’s such a stressful day, so make sure you take a bottle of water and paracetamol with you as, at times, I’ve had to boycott lunch to stay on track and headaches are a given
- Press tours aren’t limited to one day, they can span 2/3 days depending on how many journalists you want to see and what the product is. Be smart, make sure you eat breakfast and if you know it’s going to be a long tour take cereal bars and snacks to munch on when travelling etc.
- Once you’re done, and are home, GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK. If it all went smoothly, well done, if there were hiccups but you handled then professionally, GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK. It’s not easy doing press tours and it’s something to be proud of
- Post press tour (the next day), using your itinerary, compile a document outlining what each document you said to reiterate to your client/ brand. The document will look like this:
- Follow up with a ‘thank you’ email to all attendees of the day. Thank them for coming, ask if they have any additional questions, send over a press release/ images (if you have them) and, if you have samples, remind them these can be sent out
- It’s your responsibility to make sure that any journalist request is fulfilled, and this is now the time to do it. If they’ve requested samples, get them sent out and added to your media liaison (if you don’t know what this is, ask me) and continue to follow up
I think this is everything, and if you’ve made it this far then I salute you as that’s a lot of tips, but I’ve done a fair few press tours in my career and I’ve learnt from each one, so it’s worth sharing.
If you have any other questions or would like any specific blog posts on PR advice, please feel free to send these through to me. I’m hoping the ‘launch events/ blogger events’ post will be live next week but these take forever to write, so bear with me!
Thanks for reading,