Why Reporters Didn’t Attend Your Press Event

10 02 2010

You didn’t get the media attendance you expected at your last press conference. And you’re taking heat from your boss for the weak turn-out. What went wrong?

There are a number of reasons that reporters have for not showing up to press events.  Often, they politely claim that “breaking news” got in the way, and that may be true sometimes, but often it’s not the case. Here are some of the real reasons behind the no-shows:

1) You didn’t have any real news to offer. Background and perspective is great, food and drink are nice, but unless you have real news, I have other things to cover.

2) You didn’t tell me why your news was pertinent to me … and my viewers/readers/listeners. Do you even know what my beat is and do you read our publication or watch/listen to our show?

3) You didn’t give me enough advance notice. I already have my week planned out and I can’t change my schedule on a few days’ notice.

4) You scheduled it without regard to other competing events … that are more important to me. I’d love to attend your one-hour event in Detroit, but on that day I’ll be out of town attending seven press conferences at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

5) You scheduled it for a location that is incovenient or unfeasible for me. I work in California, and while I think Toledo is a wonderful place, I have a hard time justifying a flight there (especially in January) for your one-hour presser and lunch.

6) I never heard from you before … I’ve never heard your CEO speak or I’ve never heard of your company before, so why should I come running now?

7) You’re not offering anything at the event that I can’t get from your news release … or via a phone interview, at least as far as I can tell.

8) I was somewhat interested when you invited me two weeks ago … but you failed to follow-up with more detail on why I should attend.

9) We’re short-staffed due to budget cuts … and I just don’t have the time to spend a half-day getting to and back from your event.

10) You scheduled it at, or in conjunction with, a trade show or conference that I’ll be attending … but unfortunately I already have a full schedule there.

11) You scheduled it for too early in the morning or too late in the day. I do have a family and a personal life, you know, and have already missed dinner with my kids four times this week.

12) You haven’t been helpful to me in the past … with follow-up questions, images, B-roll video or other information that make it easy for me to develop my story.

13) You didn’t tie your news into the bigger picture … to connect it to trends, industry issues, local economic impact, etc., and your revolutionary new widget isn’t newsworthy by itself.

14) You’ve turned down multiple interview requests in the past … or failed to return my phone calls or failed to be honest with me.

With a press event, it’s not as simple as “if you plan it, they will come.” Sometimes a press event is the right answer, sometimes it’s not. (I’ve actually been thanked by editors – and received better editorial treatment – for not having a press conference at a major trade show.)

But if you decide a press event is the best course of action, you can maximize your media attendance by focusing on the needs and concerns of the reporter in your planning … and building those considerations into your plan.

After all, in the world of press events, the reporters and editors are your real customers.

10 Tips to Stretch Your PR Agency Budget

1 02 2010

It takes two to tango. And it takes two committed parties … that is, a good client and a good agency, to generate great PR return on investment. 

Here are a few tips, learned over years of building and maintaining long-term client-agency relationships, that can help keep your PR agency relationship efficient, productive and enjoyable … and stretch your budget:

1) Create a partnership – The best results come when the client and agency work together as partners, not when there’s an adversarial or vendor/buyer relationship. As a client, your budget is most effective when your agency does PR with you, not to or for you. You’re in this together.

 2) Communicate – There should be no surprises for either party. Open dialogue between both partners and at all levels is crucial. You can’t communicate too much. Better to share too much information than not enough. Take the time to help all teammates to understand the big picture and build trust.

3) Pay attention – High-level attention from both sides of the partnership is just as important as the attention of day-to-day contacts. If your agency’s senior people aren’t involved, you may not be getting the agency’s best thinking. If you want the agency to allocate a dedicated team to focus on your business, make sure you allocate the budget to engage them. Retainers can go a long way to ensure consistent effort by the right people – and can provide financial predictability for both you and the agency.

4) Agree on policies upfront – Make sure everyone shares the expectations with regard to reporting, invoicing, communicating, etc. at the onset. Although these procedures may be less important than strategy, service and creativity, if they’re not established early on, you risk friction within the relationship which can drain energy and resources.

5) Isolate and attack problems together – Don’t wait for issues to build up. Take a continuous improvement approach to identify the problem without blame, work together for a sound resolution, and move on.

6) Agree on the program’s goals and success measures – The team can’t hit the target if they don’t know what it is. Get everyone on the same page, early on.

7) Be fair – The golden rule applies. If you’re the client, it helps to set realistic budgets, establish fair deadlines, and provide clear direction and complete information. If you’re the agency, be accountable, keep the client informed, give the client your best efforts, and understand the constraints/politics the client faces. Instead of presenting the client with new problems, help them solve the problems they have.

8) Respect and encourage each other – Learn all you can about your partner. Each partner brings something different to the team, and if we understand each other’s viewpoint and respect each other’s ideas, talents and perspective, we can create a better outcome for everyone.

9) Be a good steward – If you’re the agency, be thrifty with the client’s budget (spend it like it’s your own money) and get your invoices out on a timely basis. If you’re the client, take care of the housekeeping issues upfront to ensure the agency can get paid on a timely basis. Nothing builds more resentment or frustration – or wastes more time and effort – than overdue payables. Every minute that the agency principal is focused on getting an overdue invoice paid is a minute that she/he is not generating ideas or results for you.

10) Celebrate – Celebrating successes with your partner along the way helps to unify and uplift your team members on both sides of the partnership. A little fun and recognition can go a long way to supercharge your team’s members … and will spark them to stretch even further, together.

What else do you think helps to stretch the value of the agency PR budget?


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