Helping you get media coverage
RSS Sources Select News RSS Feed | SOURCESCalendar   

Media Events -
Maximizing Your Attendance & News Pick-up

By Mark LaVigne, APR

As the news media becomes more and more saturated with information, particularly in a News Mecca like Toronto, journalists find it increasingly difficult to attend media events. Here’s why.

Electronic highways into newsrooms have enabled a shrinking newsroom workforce to cover more territory because of the concentration of information into databases and the plethora of internal and external wire services. The wide spread adoption of E-mail increases information flow. Working on very short deadlines, most journalists are reluctant to leave their desks for a story.

According to Angus Reid, in a 1998 media poll, journalists get an average of 153 news conference invitations per month, with only 32 percent getting a reporter to attend. Also according to the Angus Reid poll, Canadian news media want spokespeople to come to them – electronically and in person. News conferences are generally too time-consuming in their opinion.

Your task, as a media relations practitioner is to make your story as easy-to-digest as possible and readily accessible via electronic communications. When your story is highly visual through the presence of celebrity spokespersons or a particular location or geography, then plan your event with the following in mind:

  • Find out what is going on before picking your date and time – pay attention to the news and advanced notification of news events (i.e.
  • Make it downtown, as close to news media outlets as you can
  • Make it late morning or early afternoon, to enable media to get there on their rounds after their morning story meetings and before late afternoon deadlines
  • Capitalize on the visuals by hiring your own photographer and/or a videographer

Hiring a photographer/videographer enables you to provide media-ready images to news outlets or post them online for access to journalists who are unable to attend your event. Having your own images also permits you to document the event in your own fashion and provides a permanent archival record for future reference. Hire someone already trusted by the news media, perhaps a freelancer who works for a wire service or news organization. Services provided by well known and trusted companies such as CP Photo Assignment Services, News Reach, and Canada News Wire can either be the ultimate insurance policy in case few to no media show up, or can expand an event’s media coverage.

The need for speed is paramount. You should have the final photography and videography into news media hands by 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. at the latest. Let them know by voice and e-mail that it’s coming. At the event itself, try to engineer a great shot. Trust the news photographer you have hired – they know their business. Move the chosen photo on a paid wire service. Write a tight caption. And have an electronic version ready to E-mail to media on demand as well.

Have BETA quality b-roll shot, and if you have budget and time, edited properly and in media hands by the 4:00 p.m. deadline. Have hard copy accompany it, and ideally, a CD containing the whole news kit in electronic form. Make sure you have good clips of all the spokespeople involved, capture the ambiance of the event, include wild sound and make the tape short – less than eight minutes.

Here’s what you can expect to pay: B-roll ranges from $2,000 to $10,000. Mainstream news distribution outlets charge about $10,000 for edited B-roll without satellite transmission. Photography can range from $500 to $1,000. With photowire transmission, add $500.

Another tip to make things easier for the news media – create a CD ROM media kit that contains as much of the background information as possible in electronic form – including high resolution digital images. CD ROM production is about $1,000, including creative and duplication/screen printing. However, do have at least a few paper-based media kits available. Some news media still like paper!

Webcasting is a way to reach not only news media, but also the public including many of your key stakeholders. Many variations can be offered, depending on budget. A completely live webcast, with video, can cost thousands. But you can simply post still images quite quickly and relatively inexpensively if you have on-line access from the event or nearby, and shoot high-resolution digital stills. Webcasting can also drive visitors to your website, helping generate important site visits and page views.

News events also offer another important aspect beyond generating news coverage. You can create events that also include customers and/or employees. And there is always the intangible effect of a successful news event. It raises morale within the company. There’s nothing more exciting for employees than to see their company in the news in a positive sense. And good news can go a long way in helping the HR folks to promote a healthy work environment.

Mark LaVigne, APR, is a media relations and media training specialist who practiced broadcast journalism for five years and has spent the last 12 years in PR. He can be reached at or 905-841-2017.

See also:

6 Tips for Writing a Successful Video News Release