By Angel Pacheco, Public Relations Director, SurfMedia Communications
After months of planning, your speakers are ready with talking points in hand, elected officials are there dressed to the nines and the venue is looking immaculate. Congratulations! Your event – whether it’s a ground breaking or awards ceremony – is off to the perfect start.
And the sight of a local news van pulling up is icing on the cake. But it’s no time to relax. Reporters and photographers may be there schmoozing alongside guests, but there’s still plenty you can do to help create an amazing spot for tonight’s news broadcast or a write-up that really captures your organization’s mission and what it brings to the community.
- Have your spokespeople prepared. A press release is helpful, but there’s nothing that will make your organization shine like a friendly voice that’s ready to answer all questions, whether they’re about your organization’s fundamental programs or the occasion you’re celebrating today. It’s important to have more than one person in mind, as it’s easy for someone to get tied up during a big event.
- Respect a reporter’s time. Chances are the journalist who stopped by your soiree has other assignments to cover and only has so much time to be on site. A reporter may have to leave a ceremony that’s running long without getting any burning questions answered or a quote from the CEO. Offer a reporter an interview before the festivities begin or pull your preferred spokesperson away for an interview during a lengthy list of speakers.
- Have speech copies available. It’s not always ideal to read from a written speech, but if they’re available it’s helpful to provide a reporter with a copy after the ceremony. Providing a reporter with, say, a letter a beneficiary read during the event makes this important voice easily accessible and ensures they can be accurately quoted.
- Get in the right light. That orange canopy with your organization’s logo gets plenty of attention while tabling for Earth Day, but it’s not going to cast a flattering light on your speakers if it’s over the podium. Lighting distortions such as this can be a big challenge for photographers and videographers. Make sure your stage or podium has plenty of natural looking light.
- Look for photo opportunities that tell a story. Photographers are always searching for candid photos that capture the essence of a gathering – perhaps a family in-need walking into their new home for the first time or a client hugging the volunteer who has been there through thick and thin. Giving press access to these moments shows a deeper view of your organization, addition to a line-up of the elected officials who attended the occasion, and could earn your story more high-profile placement. Consider this when planning what you will be highlighting.
- Be prepared to answer questions afterword. The sound system has been torn down and the folding chairs are finally packed. Now don’t be surprised to get a last-minute phone call from a reporter who has some follow-up questions or wants to clarify a few points. Be sure to offer reporters your business card – preferably with your cell phone – before they leave.
You put months into making sure your big announcement will go smoothly, and some extra thought into what resources are available to the media will make the message go even further. And now that that’s done, it’s time to get ready for the next one.
Need help understanding the public relations process and how to adapt it to your organization? Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation. Public Relations, Press Events, Storytelling, Digital Marketing … we can help you implement a strategy for engagement and growth.