1. Share the Details
Reporters on deadline don’t want to fish around for facts or make follow-up calls to get the scoop on an event. “Offer me as much information as possible,” says Amanda Gordon, society editor for The New York Sun, who wishes event planners would provide her with vendor names and phone numbers, menus, descriptions of decor, invitations, and a complete guest list before an event. That kind of information makes a reporter’s job easier—and increases the chances she’ll write about the event. Another Gordon hint:
Arrange interviews in advance with event chairpersons or representatives of a nonprofit—or at least point them out so reporters can follow up on their own.
2. Make It Photo-Friendly
“Every event needs a photo,” says Mick Magsino of Getty Images. To improve the chances of your event photos getting published, make it easy for the photographers who attend your event to snap great shots. The latest hip basement bar or dimly lit restaurant may set a great party mood, but they’re not suited for taking photographs. If the lighting at the venue is bad, create a separate space specifically for photographing attendees. Allow photographers plenty of room to take shots, and make sure each of them has a chance to snap away at celeb guests. Finally, time A-list arrivals right. Photographers at daily papers have tight deadlines, so if you want pictures of your party to appear in the next day’s issue, Magsino recommends making sure your famous faces arrive on the red carpet by 9:30 PM at the latest.
3. Make It Fun
“Treat the press nicely,” says Elizabeth Harrison, C.E.O. of Harrison & Shriftman. Reporters and photographers attending your event may not be considered guests in the strictest sense of the word—after all, they’re there to work—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat them well. Allowing them to mingle and get the “fly on the wall” angle is what helps them get good details for their coverage. Make check-in effortless, and once they’re inside, let them mingle. “Don’t keep me out of the event itself or keep me on such a leash I feel like I can’t do my job,” Gordon says. Harrison recommends inviting journalists into the party and offering to get them a drink or a table, or to help them speak to people they want to interview. “We go out of our way to court [reporters],” she says.
4. Don’t Forget the Celebrities
In today’s celeb-crazed world, your attendees can make or break your chances of getting publicity. Of course, not every event calls for an appearance by J.Lo (or has a chance getting her there) but knowing how to work the guests who will show is essential to event publicity. First, be honest with your media tip sheet. Magsino hates when event planners and PR folks fudge about who’s going to be at an event and when they’re expected to arrive. Another tip: Don’t count out second-tier names, like reality TV stars. “A B-lister can get on TV over an A-lister if they have something interesting to say,” saysExtra’s Marie Hickey.
5. Do Your Research
Make sure you understand the people you’re pitching. “I appreciate a publicist who understands the kind of column I do, [one with] drama and conflict,” says The New York Daily News’ Lloyd Grove. “The publicists who work successfully with me can serve their client and the column.” This is all for naught, of course, if you don’t do your research. There’s nothing worse than planning your annual fund-raising gala on the same night as a premiere party for, say, a new Nicole Kidman–Jude Law movie. Guess which event everyone will cover? (Hint: Not yours.) “See what else is going on in the city that night,” Magsino says. Subscriptions to Celebrity Service—which details which celebs are where, and when—and other calendar services (including BiZBash’s) can help you plan.