Now, this is not my first crack at media relations. My first crack at media relations was a failed media day attempt at my job that actually pays. So, naturally, when I was approached to wrangle local media to meet with Santa and find out more about the exciting new additions to the event in 2008, I was a bit hesitant. I mean, really - convince the people that won't come tour a brand spanking new, hi-tech genomic research facility that has the potential to employ hundreds of local residents that they need to chat it up with Santa and write about it?!
But, as I am tied to the museum who puts on Santafest both emotionally and relationally - and because I realize that I am not quite a seasoned PR pro yet, and that any experience could benefit my PR repertoire, I said yes.
And so ensued the emailing and emailing and emailing... and calling and calling. And the dropping off of battery-operated christmas light-lit wreaths with "Santa's Magic 3-D Glasses" so that reporters could get a taste of what the big event would be like, pre-conference.
And the brushing off. And the vague answers of "we might send someone by... when was that again" and "I don't usually cover that sort of thing". And I prepared for another no-show event like the one I have already repressed.
Happily, people did come! This was the most attended press conference they have had to date, apparently.
So it was a win-win for everyone involved. I made some additional media contacts, healed some old media-related wounds and gained a lot of experience in press conference organizing. And Santa-rama got radio, t.v. and print news attendance - and (yay!) a confirmed story in tomorrow's paper.
My takeaways from the event:
- For "fun-filled community events for the whole family" like this one, overload on the cute. Message the events as an opportunity to meet (insert VIP here - Santa, the Easter Bunny, Ben Franklin?!) and ask questions.
- Local media in a small- to medium-sized town will cover a kid hugging a life sized gingerbread cookie character with local community leaders looking on, smiling, before they will cover actual news.
- People love their local radio personalities. If you can get your sponsoring radio station to send their jocks out, people will come.
- Always. Have. Food. I'm not sure if this actually attracted people, but I did slide in my (multiple) invitations that there would be food. I'm betting it did. That would help sell it for me...
- Press kits might actually still have some benefit. I hand delivered those Christmas-ey wreaths and information and people really seemed to like them.
- I have a very low tolerance for cute.
- I am so happy the weekend is here.