If You Build It, They Won’t Come… Not Without an Invitation
I love baseball. I know that’s not something you hear very often these days, and, trust me, I have my issues with how it’s being played right now. But it’s my favorite sport, and my love for baseball includes movies about it, especially the classic, Field of Dreams. Kevin Costner hearing voices in his corn field encouraging him to plow his crops and build a baseball field… “If you build it, he will come.” It’s timeless and perfectly articulates so much that made me fall in love with the game.
But the first message from the mysterious voice isn’t something that can relate to everyday life. How can someone know to go somewhere or do something if you don’t tell them? Communication is key, and the 1919 White Sox players should’ve received an invitation to play on Costner’s field.
If you’re looking for media or news coverage for an event you’re hosting, you should let them know with a request for media coverage. Contacting your local media outlets in advance with the important information will help them decide if they’re able to cover it.
Here are a few tips to effectively contact your local media outlets:
- Draft a Media Coverage Request which is similar to a press release. You want to make sure you highlight the key information, particularly the “Who? What? When? Where? Why?” of your event. Be specific and give the facts. I like to include a summary of this important information in the body of my email and attach the coverage request. I’ve seen many times the person covering the event hasn’t received the attachment and is working only off the main email. It’s helpful to include the key information on both.
- Send your coverage request to the outlets’ general info email as well as to key members of their team if you can. Everyone is looking for content to fill their website, social media channels, broadcasts and print publications, and you may just get your request to the inbox of someone looking for their next story.
- Follow up closer to the event as a reminder. You can send another email the day before or early the day of the event. Newsrooms receive a lot of information, story tips and press releases every day, and, while some portions of their news coverage can be planned in advance, the top stories are dependent on what’s going on that day. A brief reminder can be a great way to keep your event top-of-mind in the newsroom.
- Put out some positive vibes that there aren’t any major or breaking news stories on the day of your event. I’ve been told a hundred times that media outlets won’t guarantee coverage because news is constantly happening, and, if something more newsworthy occurs, that’s where they’re going to send their reporters. Sometimes a little luck can go a long way.
So, they won’t just miraculously show up like former baseball greats and the giant line of cars at the end of Field of Dreams the way James Earl Jones foreshadows. You have to invite them. But do it with all the facts and follow up. Like the voice tells Costner, “Go the distance.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly Fertig is the Media & Communications Manager at 898 Marketing. She is responsible for planning and executing media buys for a variety of clients as well as developing and cultivating relationships with local media outlets. A graduate of Youngstown State University, Kelly has over a decade of experience in media buying.