It’s important that event planners watch and listen closely to what is and isn’t done and said. In particular, this would include interactions with outsiders. The tip off should be when a committee or team member complains that something didn’t happen.
In recent months, a freelance travel writer shared that he’d reached out to an event and asked for a photo to include with an upcoming calendar of activities. What he received in response was a link to a Media Inquiry Form that was actually a Credentials Request Form with 19 required answers, plus 10 optional ones.
Does this statement confuse anyone? “I’m working on a story featuring upcoming events and I’d like to include your event with a photo. I need the photo by (date) and it needs to be high resolution.” This type of request is fairly common in the PR world. The writer wanted an image.
He wasn’t interested in attending the event. In fact, he was looking to give the festival pre-event exposure. What every event would die to receive. Most PR types would have offered to send multiple photos. After all, we’ve become a visual society; dynamic images have more impact.
It appears that the person in charge of media is very detailed to the point of being ineffective. The writer who was on deadline threw his hands in the air and then went running in another direction to find a festival that would appreciate the free media exposure.
A few lessons can be learned.
1. If an event chairman hears a team member complain that something did or didn’t happen, don’t take it at face value. Every story has two sides. Pull back the covers and take a closer look. Ask to see the original email or listen to the voicemail message. Ask the vice chairman reach out to this person to see if his or her concerns were handled to their satisfaction.
2. Sometimes a form isn’t the answer. It can come across as cold, impersonal and appear to be a stall tactic or a barrier to entry. The more time a reporter spends filling out a form, the less time available to write a story.
3. Events are about relationships. A relationship built around “any incomplete forms will NOT be considered for approval” won’t get you very far. Trust me, those relationships are key when trying to cozy up to a reporter to garner coverage or attempting to walk around an uncomfortable issue.
If this is how the local media is treated, do you wonder if this event gets any exposure at all?