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You didn’t get the media attendance you expected at your last press conference. And you’re taking heat from your boss for the weak turn-out. What went wrong? Why didn’t reporters attend your press event?
There are a number of reasons that reporters have for not showing up to press events. Often, they politely claim that “breaking news” got in the way, and that may be true sometimes, but many times it’s just not the case. Here are some of the real reasons reporters have given for press-event no-shows:
1) You didn’t have any real news to offer. Background and perspective is great, food and drink are nice, but unless you have real news, I have other things to cover.
2) You didn’t tell me why your news was pertinent to me … and my viewers/readers/listeners. Do you even know what my beat is and do you read our publication or watch/listen to our show?
3) You didn’t give me enough advance notice. I already have my week planned out and I can’t change my schedule on a few days’ notice.
4) You scheduled it without regard to other competing events … that are more important to me. I’d love to attend your one-hour event in Detroit, but on that day I’ll be out of town attending seven press conferences at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
5) You scheduled it for a location that is inconvenient or unfeasible for me. I work in California, and while I think Toledo is a wonderful place, I have a hard time justifying a flight there (especially in January) for your one-hour presser and lunch.
6) I never heard from you before … I’ve never heard your CEO speak or I’ve never heard of your company before, so why should I come running now?
7) You’re not offering anything at the event that I can’t get from your news release … or via a phone interview, at least as far as I can tell.
8) I was somewhat interested when you invited me two weeks ago … but you failed to follow-up with more detail on why I should attend.
9) We’re short-staffed due to budget cuts … and I just don’t have the time to spend a half-day getting to and back from your event.
10) You scheduled it at, or in conjunction with, a trade show or conference that I’ll be attending … but unfortunately I already have a full schedule there.
11) You scheduled it for too early in the morning or too late in the day. I do have a family and a personal life, you know, and have already missed dinner with my kids four times this week.
12) You haven’t been helpful to me in the past … with follow-up questions, images, B-roll video or other information that make it easy for me to develop my story.
13) You didn’t tie your news into the bigger picture … to connect it to trends, industry issues, local economic impact, etc., and your revolutionary new widget isn’t newsworthy by itself.
14) You’ve turned down multiple interview requests in the past … or failed to return my phone calls or failed to be honest with me.
With a press event, it’s not as simple as “if you plan it, they will come.” Sometimes a press event is the right answer, sometimes it’s not. (I’ve actually been thanked by editors – and received better editorial treatment – for not having a press conference at a major trade show.)
But if you decide a press event is the best course of action, you can maximize your media attendance by focusing on the needs and concerns of the reporter in your planning … and building those considerations into your plan.
After all, in the world of press events, the reporters and editors are your real customers.