This year’s Mother’s Day Classic (MDC) in Adelaide attracted nearly 8000 participants. It also generated nearly $300,000 of editorial content across print media but this didn’t happen by accident.

While Enventive is responsible for the event management side of things, the PR portfolio is managed by Donna Jayne PR With Heart.

We all know that event and property owners need strategic clarity and a plan that will deliver objectives. But in busy SMEs and not-for-profits where everyone does everything, the need to deliver results right here right now can sometimes override the importance of sitting back, taking stock and (re)developing a comprehensive communication plan. And one offs, be they dinners, award nights, fundraisers, conferences or expos all need a communication plan that ultimately defines the target audience, the message and the medium.

Getting stories printed in the paper, liked on social media or talked about on radio can have its benefits over paid advertising. But many event or property owners are not actively leveraging media coverage in this way. Donna-Jayne Sullivan, PR consultant to MDC Adelaide, puts this succinctly: “Would you rather pay $20,000 for a page of advertising or nothing for a page of editorial? It’s a no brainer!”

Indeed it is. But many event owners and managers feel they lack the skills to write that media release that secures them the front page of The Advertiser.

“Gaining significant exposure doesn’t generally just happen by chance,” suggests Donna-Jayne. “It tends to be the outcome of a planned process. This year the Mother’s Day Classic in Adelaide generated a significant amount of print media coverage including a front page of the Sunday Mail. If we were to pay for the same coverage in an advertising sense, we would have needed to factor in over $260,000 for this same activity.”

But given the size and status of the MDC, wouldn’t that have happened anyway? Not necessarily suggests Donna. “Let’s not forget that the size and status of MDC is attributed, along with many other marketing platforms, to the success of generated media coverage over a solid history. Yes, we are in fortunate position that the media have come to recognise MDC as a source of content around Mother’s Day, but we have to ensure that what we provide is relevant, genuinely newsworthy and promotes what we need it to promote. This is where strategy comes into play. You need to spend time identifying the people, families and organisations that demonstrate the value of your event – this is what the media is interested in.”

Donna-Jayne joins other PR representatives working across Australia, so she is able to discuss strategy and share tactics with colleagues stationed in other state capitals. “We have two main objectives when we are considering media relations. We want to increase participation in the event as entry fees support breast cancer research and it is a brilliant way to show a unified front against a disease that has a huge impact across Australia. We are also wanting to make the community breast cancer aware and encourage a commitment to regular breast checks.”

Property owners have to find stories within their event that are of public interest. You need to commit to the process of doing this as part of your communications planning.

“You need to be pro-active and re-active when considering media relations for your event, identify the stories on hand that demonstrate your events purpose and be flexible to the opportunities that will pop up along the way. Identify your target media against your demographic and know what appeals to them. You need to cut through a multitude of competing events.”

“Keep in mind that your pitch may be one of hundreds to come across a mainstream journalist’s desk, per day!”

Most important is maintaining a data base of who is interested in what as there’s no point in sending information on a fashion show to a sport’s reporter. And don’t limit yourself to traditional media because there’ll be must-reach bloggers, tweeters and podcasters who are already talking to your targets. Work on developing a relationship with them: phone them, e-mail them, @ them and introduce yourself and your event. And leverage on everyone’s meeting-for-coffee addiction.

However, at the end of the day, your media release must be of interest to the consumer of that medium. It should be well written, to the point, informative with an outstanding but to-the-point headline. The opening paragraphs are really tag lines for the headline – big eye catching statements that draw the reader in, prick their interest and drives them on through the editorial. Next expand details of the subject and this might be followed by a quote and a case study. Make sure you confirm what the public call to action is and finally finish up with some suggested media opportunities. Maybe an interview with the quotee or photo op with the case study protagonist.

“Media releases should be limited to one page of A4,”advises Donna. “Scrap incidental information and fluff but make sure you have links to where more information can be found. At the end of the day, everyone is hungry for content that engages their audience.”

For further information on how Enventive can coordinate your event, please call us on 08 8362 2150 or email hello@enventive.com.au