Tips for Working with the Media to Garner NHF Day Attention
The Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) provided these tips for event planners on how to work with the media.
By establishing a good working relationship with journalists and keeping the media informed, NHFD events can garner pre-event promotion and post-event coverage. Both are important to the success of the event and to fulfilling the educational purpose of NHFD.
Identify local, regional and national media. Compiling a media list is the critical first step toward effectively working with the media. Developing a list takes time and effort, but the benefits, coverage of your event, far outweigh the work. Entering all media contact data into a simple spreadsheet in a program like Excel allows for easy list management. Turn to your local telephone book first. List all newspapers, magazines and broadcast stations, including radio and television. Then turn to the Internet.
Internet searches can turn up a wide range of publications/stations you may want to contact. Finally, turn to your state or regional outdoor communicators organization and POMA to garner contact information for communicators in your state who specialize in the traditional outdoor sports.
Reach out to the press. Relationship building is the most effective way to increase editorial coverage. Call the folks on your media list and discuss your event. Provide the who, what when, where, and why behind your event. Follow up the call with collateral materials (by e-mail or mail).
Assign a media relations manager. Consider asking one person on your team, a passionate volunteer who is a good communicator, to serve as the media relations person. A single person focused on the task will garner the best results.
Understand deadlines, especially for magazines. Magazines work months in advance. Don’t send a notice about your event in July and expect to see it in print in August. Magazines need press kits in April or May to include the information in an August or September issue. When working with newspapers and broadcasters, initiate contact several months before the event to ensure the ability to garner pre-event, registration coverage. Maintain contact with the media outlets on a regular basis.
Develop a press blueprint. Outline a press schedule that keeps you on track with the media. Include notes from all conversations with interested media members and note specific outlet deadlines.
Don’t forget the Net. NHFD is all about increasing participation in the traditional outdoor sports. To reach youngsters, don’t neglect the medium they utilize the most – the Internet. Talk with youngsters in your area to determine if there are local blogs or Web sites where teens go for information. Contact your local schools to determine if they have Web sites where information can be posted. Consider involving youngsters in promotion. Generation Y aka Echo Boomers rely peer reviews more than any other factor when making decisions to buy or participate. Make NHFD cool. Get kids involved.
Go grassroots. Many high schools curriculums include a school newspaper program. Aspiring journalists report on events at the school. Get involved with the young reporters through the class instructor to get some coverage at the grass roots level. Talk to the students about hunting and fishing issues and how NHFD and hunting and fishing are positive, life-building activities for youngsters. Invite the student reporters to come and cover the event.
Think journalistically. Every event coordinator would like to see a three-page spread or 30-minute show focused wholly their event in every publication and on every broadcast station. That’s unrealistic. Most outdoor media outlets provide, how-to, where-to, when-to or product-related stories to their readers and viewers. When you talk to journalists, be prepared to help them generate story ideas. When talking with the local media you have to convince them of the local importance of the program.
Keep salespeak to a minimum. Forget marketing when dealing with the media. Talk issues and trends. Present statistics, offer opinions on issues of concern. These elements help journalists develop story ideas and become quotable content. Become an expert source for the media, not a salesman. If you do, the media will start turning to your form information and quotes.
Be responsive. The media works on strict deadlines, which often provide just a few days of advance notice. Return e-mails and phone calls promptly, or you’ll miss important coverage.
Develop a digital information/press package. CD and/or online press kits are a necessity in the electronic age of communications. The electronic press kit should include press releases on the event, including the history of NHFD, event personnel with contact information, media contact information, images, logos, line art. Also make the info easy to find. Utilize folders or links for Press Releases, Event Info, Contact Info, High Res Images, Low Res Images, Logos and Line Art. Take the extra time when preparing the CD and you’ll save a lot of time down the road. When the media has what they need urgent, deadline-bases requests are greatly diminished.
Invite media members to participate. Journalists who cover the outdoor beat are usually outdoorsmen themselves. In addition, they are members of the outdoor community. In addition to asking them to cover the event, ask them to get involved in the event planning process. You never know, your local outdoor writer/ broadcaster/photographer might be willing to become the event media relations expert – or at the least a volunteer media consultant.
Make friends with the media. There’s no doubt that friends help friends – intentionally or not. Contacting a person you’re comfortable with rather than someone you don’t know is human nature. So, step outside your office and find ways to interact with the media socially and in the field. Make friends.