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Section 4: Promoting your event

Working with the News Media | Tips for Contacting the Media | Pre-Event Outreach
During the Event | Tips for Hiring a Photographer | Social Media

Newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, billboards, Facebook…where do I start?

Baby Buggy Walk logo
Baby Buggy Walk Home Section 1: What is the Baby Buggy Walk in the Park? Goals and Objectives Section 2: Getting Started Section 3: Recruiting Sponsors Section 4: Promoting Your Event Section 5: Evaluation and Follow-up Sample Event Checklist Sample Budget Sample Sponsor Letter Sample Evaluation Survey Sample Photo Release form Sample Media Advisory Sample Press Release Campaign Materials
2012 Baby Buggy Walk event image

In most cities and towns, there is no shortage of media channels that can help you promote your event. The trick is getting their attention and interest when you have hundreds or even thousands of other organizations, issues and news topics competing for their attention.

Earned Media vs. Paid Media vs. Social Media

Paid media includes print, broadcast and web advertising, billboards and direct mail, where you pay for the space and therefore control the message.

Earned media includes traditional news media where you don't pay for exposure and therefore do not fully control the message. Getting favorable coverage in earned media is much more difficult – it is their job to be objective when reporting the story – but when you are able to secure positive coverage, it is viewed with much more credibility in the eyes of your audience.

Social media refers to networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and online tools such as blogs where individuals and organizations create an online presence with the primary purpose of sharing information and building a community rather than self-promotion.

For your Baby Buggy Walk in the Park, you should certainly consider all available promotional and communication channels. The Office of Minority Health Resource Center can provide guidance on what channels to include in your plan based on your event goals and objectives.

Working with the News Media

The key to getting coverage is to provide the media with what they want in a timely fashion. To make this possible, you should be prepared. Before you send out your release or pick up the phone:

  • Determine which media you would like to engage. Local TV news is an ideal target for your event, but local print media may be interested as well. Due to news cycle deadlines, late morning and early afternoon are the best times to hold your event if you plan to invite television outlets and reporters from daily papers. The Office of Minority Health Resource Center can help you develop your media list.
  • Identify media spokespeople. This will help you to direct media to the right people at the event. Reporters often want to talk to participants about their stories in addition to getting remarks from officials and leaders. Whoever you appoint to speak with the media, a good rule is to provide key messages to your spokespeople well ahead of time and help prepare them if needed. The Office of Minority Health Resource Center can provide talking points related to infant mortality and the overall goals of the Baby Buggy Walk in the Park.
  • Consider reaching out to reporters who cover health care and minority communities to cover more issue-oriented stories about infant mortality. They may not cover the event but may be interested in writing about innovative organizations like yours and the work that you are doing.
  • Above all, remain flexible and don't get discouraged. Priorities may change in an instant and reporters who were interested in coming to your event may be called to go elsewhere to cover other stories. If a reporter does not show up, follow up with them and let them know there's still an angle of interest to their readers (see bullet above).

Tips for Contacting the Media

The media outreach campaign is implemented in three phases: 1) sending out a pre-event media advisory, 2) working with reporters who attend and 3) sending out a news release with photos to outlets that did not attend.

The Office of Minority Health Resource Center will provide templates you can use for your media advisory, press release and calendar listing.

Pre-Event Outreach

Daily and Weekly Newspapers

  • Call the news editor or assignment desk, introduce yourself and explain you are calling to find out to whom you should send a media advisory about your event. Briefly explain the event as he/she may refer you to another editor or reporter who would cover the event. Get the contact name, phone number and his/her email address.
  • Complete and email the template media advisory to the appropriate contact at least two weeks before the event. Paste the media advisory into the body of the email; do not include it as an attachment. In an introductory paragraph, note if you were referred by the news editor or assignment desk.
  • Convey the key facts in the email subject line, briefly. "Baby Buggy Walk in the Park on Sept. 21 to Raise Awareness About Infant Mortality."
  • Follow-up with a call after one week to check the status of his/her attendance and to answer any questions he/she may have.
  • Email the media advisory to the newspaper's community calendar two weeks before the event if your event is open to the public. Follow-up with a call.

Television and Radio Stations

  • Call the news editor or assignment desk, introduce yourself and explain you are calling to find out to whom you should send a media advisory about your event. Briefly explain the event as he/she may refer you to another editor or reporter who would cover the event. Get the contact name, phone number, and his/her email.
  • Most television stations will ask you to email the advisory to a general email address – not to a specific reporter or assignment editor. It will go into a calendar of local news and events that will be assigned closer to the event date. Often times, television stations do not assign stories until the day before, or the morning of, the event.
  • Complete and email the template media advisory to the appropriate contact about one week prior to the event. Paste the media advisory into the body of the email; do not include it as an attachment.
  • Convey the key facts in the email subject line, briefly. "Baby Buggy Walk in the Park on Sept. 21 to Raise Awareness About Infant Mortality."
  • Call about two days before your event to ensure that the assignment desk received the media advisory and to answer any questions he/she may have.
  • Focus on radio stations that provide news coverage in your area, e.g., the local NPR affiliate, since many outlets do not have newsrooms.

During the Event

  • Assign someone to be available during the event to work exclusively with reporters. Have them bring the reporter around to see the activities taking place.
  • Have completed news releases available at your event for reporters.
  • Work with reporters to identify and to arrange interviews with organizational leadership, speakers and participants.

Post-Event Outreach

  • Email the news release as soon as possible after the event to those media outlets that did not attend. As with the media advisory, the news release should be in the body of the email and not sent as an attachment.
  • Email with the news release a color photo of the event. It is important that the photo is sent at 300 dpi so it can be used in print or on the air by television stations. Newspapers, television stations and radio outlets can adjust the photo for website usage.
  • Include a caption to accompany the photo. A brief caption should name the people in the photo and include a description, location and date of your event.
  • Follow up with a call three to five days later.

Tips for Hiring a Photographer

You may decide that you want to hire a professional photographer to capture high quality photos that you can use in future promotional campaigns or fundraising efforts, as Baltimore Healthy Start did last year (see the photo book). Before you hire a photographer:

  • Ask to see samples of their event work. Photographers who specialize in events may have a better sense of how to capture the day in pictures.
  • Negotiate a rate upfront. Some photographers charge daily or half-day rates; some charge an hourly rate. Freelance photographers' average rates vary widely depending on many factors, including your region of the country. Typically you can expect to spend anywhere from $50 to over $150 per hour. But don't hesitate to ask the photographer to donate their services or lower their rate as they sometimes do for nonprofits.
  • Prepare a "shot list" to help the photographer identify what you want. After all, you are going to be busy running an event! A "shot list" includes all of the photos you want to make sure you capture.

Here is a sample "shot list":

  • Any banners, logos or location placards/signs
  • Group and candid shots of all speakers and VIP guests
  • Action and candid shots of staff and volunteers supporting the event
  • Candid and group shots of families during the event program
  • Shots of the event location including all activities and vendor booths

Make sure to obtain signed consent from all parties being photographed. If you can arrange for attendees to sign forms as they check in, that is normally the best approach. A parent, guardian or chaperone must provide consent for children under 18. For attendees who do not want to be photographed, you can purchase different color wristbands that can be given out at the sign-in table. See a sample photo release form.

Social media

If you're like most people, keeping up with the vast and ever-changing world of social media can seem daunting. But you can narrow it down to a few high-touch, high-impact social media (also called "social networking") channels that can help you connect with your clients, sponsors, media and other audiences.

Facebook and Twitter are by far the most popular social networking sites (by number of users). Of course, other social media channels can add value to your event communications plan. The Office of Minority Health Resource Center will provide additional guidance on using other social media resources, such as YouTube and Google+.

If you're already on social media, you're ahead of the game. You already have a presence and followers that you can engage and can help spread the word about your event.

Remember the cardinal rule: Social media is not about one-way communication or self-promotion. Instead of creating content that focuses solely on your organization and what you need, create content that engages followers to become advocates for the issue of infant mortality and supporters of the Baby Buggy Walk in the Park. Some ideas to consider:

  • Share stats about infant mortality in your community to illustrate the breadth of the problem and invite followers to learn more about how Baby Buggy Walk in Park aims to improve birth outcomes.
  • Ask Healthy Start clients to share their stories about how infant mortality has impacted them and why they are walking for infant mortality awareness.
  • Consider partnering with a vendor or sponsor to offer a raffle or giveaway for people who RSVP on Facebook or tweet about the event.
  • Create a list of "5 reasons to join us for the Baby Buggy Walk in the Park" and post/tweet them during the weeks leading up to the event.
  • Create and share a video thanking your clients, volunteers, sponsors and vendors for supporting the Baby Buggy Walk in the Park (you can post this before the event and invite others to join your valued supporters).
  • Create a "Proud Supporter" graphic for sponsors and vendors that they can post to their social media channels and website.
  • Establish a Twitter hashtag (e.g., #babybuggywalk) that allows users to easily follow the conversation, particularly if you plan to tweet during the event.

The Office of Minority Health Resource Center will provide sample social media content for use before, during and after your Baby Buggy Walk in the Park event.

Contact:
Jacki Flowers
Communications Manager
Office of Minority Health Resource Center
jflowers@minorityhealth.hhs.gov
301.251.1797




Content Last Modified: 10/15/2013 1:33:00 PM
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