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Promoting Utility Events Requires Some Tact

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Andy Gotlieb's picture
Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner Freelancer

I hold 34 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too.  The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various...

  • Member since 2016
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  • Sep 7, 2022
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Lots of organizations sponsor events.

Most of those organizations think the events are important and/or interesting.

Unfortunately, the news media begs to differ.

For one thing, there’s simply no possible way to cover the events, which aren’t typically news unless they’ve become local touchstones, such as a Fourth of July festival or a Memorial Day parade.

For another thing, events typically have small, targeted audiences. That’s the opposite of what might interest the news media. Coverage needs are based on what’s likely to appeal to the largest percentage of viewers/readers/listeners.

So, how do you get coverage?

Well, be prepared for the strong possibility that you don’t.

But you can increase your chances with a few steps.

As said before, make sure the event has wide appeal and is tied to some news trend. Don’t waste your time pitching minor things. Ask yourself what is truly important to both the utility and your customers.

A well-prepared media kit helps. Include an advisory, press release, links to photos/videos and any other background material that explains why the event is important.

Deliver those media kits well in advance of your event. A week is probably ideal. Any earlier and it will get lost in the shuffle; any later and coverage plans will already be set. Granted, if you have a last-minute event, presumably it’s for something important, so you can ignore the previous two sentences.

Following up with the media is fine – in moderation. Don’t keep pestering the editors who will decide whether to cover the event; remember that news judgment is subjective, so if you annoy an editor, he/she/they just might decide to skip your event.

Ideally, check in with editors early the day of the event for a brief reminder. Even if they say no initially, it’s possible something falls through and your event becomes the fallback. Likewise, a promise of coverage might result in a no-show if major news breaks.

If a reporter or news crew does show up, get them what they need. No excuses. As they’re leaving, give them your contact information in case they have questions or need other information.

If you do receive coverage, follow your usual protocols for posting it to your website and social media channels.

Andy Gotlieb's picture
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