food for thought

How to host a successful media event

Do you feel like your business would get some great coverage by the media, if only they could see what you’re doing first hand? We recommend you host a media event! It’s a great, efficient way to get several writers and influencers to experience your goods or services at the same time.

Here are some basic tips to make your first media event an unqualified success:

Determine what you are trying to say, and when you should you say it

This could be an entire blog post all by itself! But a good start is to create a list of the things that make your business cool and unique – the evergreen things that are integral to your brand, and the special things you are offering or about to introduce. Center your event around that special something, then think about how it fits with the time of year you’d like to hold your media event. Also keep in mind that local newspapers are planning just a few days or weeks ahead, and local magazines are likely thinking 2-4 months ahead. One of our previous clients, Zeal restaurant, specializes in fermented foods and wanted a media event in January, so we created a theme that was “Eat locally and healthfully even in the winter/early spring”.

Get prepared

Don’t forget that you’ll need at least a couple of weeks to create and coordinate the event, edit and update your website, and write your key messages. You want to make sure your brand or business could withstand the most intense of scrutiny. Think about it this way – if the media has never heard about your business, they’ll go to your website to learn more. What if your information is out of date, or links aren’t working? What type of impression would that leave?

You’ll also want to give the media at least three weeks’ notice from the time they receive the invite to the date of your event. Giving them enough time to say yes means they’ll pencil you in before another invite gets to them. Giving them too much time might make them lose interest.

Give them plenty of story ideas

Try to come up with multiple story angles to promote at the same event. For Zeal, we gave the media information on how to make their own fermenting kits, fermented food recipes, and recipes for smoothies with frozen ingredients. We also gave out a list of tricks to eating local produce in the winter, like a list of local farms who have greenhouses and how you can store apples and root veggies somewhere dark and cool.

Create your Key Messages

Key messages are the most important things you want to convey about your business, from specific evergreen messages to special programs you’re planning to introduce, worded in a short, concise way that fits your brand. Build your invitation, news release (if you’re writing one), and welcome speech around those key points. Make sure they are reflected prominently on your website, and that your entire staff has those memorized.

The devil’s in the details

Here are some additional tips on how to make your media event effective:

  • Schedule your event for a time when you can give the media your full attention. Try to do it at a time when you are closed or can be closed, or hold it in a private room.
  • The best parties are in small spaces with no seating. This keeps the energy high and focused on you!
  • Create an exact timeline for the event, down to the minute, and share it with everyone involved.
  • Be prepared for the fact that someone will inevitably arrive early, so be ready at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time.
  • Put together and informational sheet to hand out at the media event, what we call a media kit, so they have all the facts they need in writing. Try to keep this short and to-the-point; one double-sided sheet should suffice.
  • Come up with a gift to hand out at the end of the event, preferably one that reinforces the theme of the night. Make enough so that media and their guests can each have one. For example, we handed out home fermentation kits with recipes in a cute gift bag at the media event we held for Zeal.
  • Don’t forget little details such as providing a place for coats if it’s raining or snowing. Will there be a table for displaying name tags, menus, and media kits?
  • Put a table by a window or somewhere with good lighting so the media can take quality photos of your products. Decorate if appropriate.
  • Know that you will likely have at least one no-show, and that media guests are even more likely to change their RSVP at the last minute.

We know these tips will help you build the foundation for a great media event, but there’s so much more you could still do to guarantee its success. If you want to see the experts in action, reach out to our team today!


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