Creating media events that attract the press like bees to honey
Your brand may be great at hosting b-to-b events at trade shows or connecting with consumers via sampling programs or savvy brand ambassadors. But what does it take to lure the press (us) those busy skeptical deadline-driven reporters and editors who hardly have 15 minutes for lunch let alone time to get out from behind their desks to attend a news conference or product launch? Here are six ways to get reporters and editors to log off their computers and stroll into your next event:
Bring in the big names. Try to secure a celebrity supermodel or socialite or two. After all what reporter worth his byline wouldn’t love to see Paris Hilton or Justin Timberlake in action? Cecelia Paglia head of global event marketing at Reebok says adding celebrities and athletes is a huge plus.
Case in point: Last year for the launch of Scarlett Johansson’s Scarlett ‘Hearts’ Rbk’ activewear collection the curvaceous blonde packed ’em to the party which was held in New York’s trendy meatpacking district. “We were only launching the logo ” Paglia says. “The product wouldn’t be available for another six months.” Paglia and her team incorporated the heart-inspired logo onto a red light box at the end of the room for a cool clubby feel and spread around logoed pillows and glasses but at the end of the day Johansson was the draw she acknowledges. And she generated the press clips and coverage Reebok wanted.
Get ’em moving. “Press events are all about establishing a level of excitement and enthusiasm for a new product or service ” says Bud Price chief creative officer at EWI Worldwide in Detroit which produces ride-and-drives for major car brands who want to introduce new models to automotive and lifestyle writers. A recent consumer and media drive program for Ford Edge included stops for antique shopping (so the journalists could experience loading the vehicle). Similar excursions Price has planned include kite-flying along the ocean a round of golf or a tour through Napa Valley’s wine region. “The experience should represent the vehicle and the demographics of the people who will be buying it ” he says.
When Reebok launched its Run Easy campaign in New York last year it invited journalists to the Reebok Sports Club on the city’s Upper East Side where they learned about the new line of apparel and footwear then got to change into the goods and try them out on a run through Central Park. “We find that giving them a personal experience gets them engaged more than just having a product person standing there ” Paglia says. Later an expert panel fielded editors’ personal questions. “It’s about building relationships ” she says. “It just gets them feeling good about Reebok.”
Make it exclusive. Most reporters will drop everything for that once-in-a-lifetime chance for a one-on-one with a celebrity or a top executive. “Reporters are competitive ” Price says. “They want the story.” So dangle some exclusives to bring reporters out of the woodwork.
Make it meaningful. Don’t throw an event just for the sake of having an event cautions James Humphrey director of p.r. at Conde Nast publication Architectural Digest. “We may throw an event to celebrate the people in an issue or to entertain clients ” he says. “Something has to be happening otherwise people can sniff ‘been there done that’ a mile away.”
To introduce a new publisher Humphrey says a small gathering at an upscale restaurant may be more appropriate than a big event with the press.
Make it real. “The most important thing is to make sure your event is a true reflection of your brand and company ” says John Ordoña a spokesperson for Levi Strauss’ Dockers brand. “Dockers is an approachable and inclusive brand and our events—press and consumer alike —reflect that characteristic.”
Dockers typically takes an intimate approach with its press events and seasonal line presentations. “Doing so allows us to spend ample time with our editorial partners and establish long-lasting and productive relationships ” he adds. “Exquisite food an amazing setting and a great gift are common elements of well-produced press events but if you can somehow let editors know they are not part of a mass cattle call they usually will be more likely to attend.”