Whether you’re scheduling a lunch, dinner or one-on-one meeting, a well thought out event is a terrific tactic for meeting and keeping up to date with press. Creating a successful event starts with a few simple principles:
- You Must Educate. Today’s writer is likely working for themselves as a freelancer, so their time is money and they are selective about how they choose to spend it. Go beyond your own brand story and think about what you can teach them to make your event worth their while. You’re an expert in so many areas: pick one and expand the topic into event.
- Share Real Insights. How often have you read a winery’s vintage report that sounds like it was the most perfect vintage ever in the history of winemaking? This kind of Pollyanna storytelling does not play with journalists. Tell them something REAL. What are your real challenges and how are you meeting them? What keeps you up at night? Nothing frustrates a journalist more than a trained pony.
- Think Location. Most press events hosted on the road are going to take place in a restaurant or hotel event space. Think of the restaurant as a partner in your event. Work with the chef, sommelier and marketing/PR departments to create a compelling event that highlights them as well as your brand. Secondly, consider what the location says about you. Select a location that fits your philosophy, makes people think differently about you, or makes a statement.
- Keep the Real Goal in Mind. A lunch or dinner with 10-15 writers is an investment and can be a good one at that. However, something smaller can work just as well. It’s not the number of people at the table, but the quality of the conversations you start. The goal is not ‘butts in seats’ but rather ink on pages.
- Consider Timing. Keep your day of the week, time of year, and length of event in mind when crafting your event itinerary. Press are pressed for time. Keep lunches to no more than 2 hours. Keep dinners to 3 hours. Avoid Fridays and weekends. Finally, consider the time of year when planning an event. Hosting an event the same week as a larger conference or other industry gathering may seem like a good idea capitalizing on your time in the market, but competition with other brands will be stiff. Similarly, look at the calendar for religious holidays and pop culture events that may conflict with your event.