Improving your meetings industry PR will generate greater awareness and understanding of your business whether it is a destination, venue, event tech company or agency. The key to success is greater editorial coverage in the meetings industry media. But how can that be achieved?
Looking into meetings industry PR, we asked journalists in the sector to share what makes a great story and how to ensure news is scooped up.
Understand what makes a great story…
This is where many businesses go wrong. To them, everything is interesting. To succeed, put yourself in the mind of a journalist on your target publication and consider what their audience deems interesting and important.
It would be a huge mistake to bombard editors with all the irrelevant minutiae of your business simply because your emails will begin to go unopened in overloaded inboxes. If you cannot sum up your news hook in an email’s subject heading, it’s unlikely a journalist can grab their reader’s attention either.
Let’s talk about the basics first. The purpose of a news piece is to pass on information, but it only becomes newsworthy when the content is new, relevant, interesting, surprising and adds value. Timing is critical – readers want up-to-date information and timely industry reaction pieces. If the topic isn’t particularly new, find a fresh angle that makes it current and unique. It also needs to be significant – the more people impacted by a story, the bigger the headline.
What journalists want…
For the meetings industry, great news stories are “the ones with major implications” says Paul Colston, managing editor of Conference & Meetings World and Exhibition World. He told us: “Mergers and acquisitions, major investments, cancellations, bankruptcies, government initiatives affecting our sector, conference and exhibition launches are all big news stories.”
Other popular news items include event strategy plans from brands and agencies, client wins, appointments of senior and well-known industry figures, new major hotel and venue openings, destination strategy initiatives or any financial market news affecting companies in the MICE sector. The value of importance placed on each of these can differ from one events magazine to the next and news agendas can shift throughout the year, so if one publication turns your pitch down, another may snap it up.
News doesn’t need an angle related to coronavirus either. In fact, many editors are crying out for content without the C-word. Mark Williams, associate editor of C&IT, explains: “We’re still very much open to ideas about the kind of things we would have published pre-coronavirus – ie interesting topics with an events hook. Tech, sustainability, event design etc.
“As ever, we won’t take something that reads like a sales pitch. We always welcome a new take on an established topic or an insightful, original, provocative (and exclusive) thought leadership piece that tells event planners something they may not already know.” Surveys and data are always useful, too.
The big stories…
The most-read online articles in the sector tend to be those in the national news, according to Colston. A recent example is the transformation of ExCel into NHS Nightingale to treat Covid-19 patients. He adds: “Listicles always attract high numbers of readers, too, as do those with a celebrity attached to them. Strong human interest stories or big developments among major agencies and businesses are also always among the top stories.”
A common frustration among journos is a reluctance from businesses to share figures in financial stories. In our last blog, Martin Fullard, editor of Conference News, told us: “I get quite annoyed with people who want to share their good news, but don’t want to talk about serious numbers. Our audience wants to know and to compare – just saying things are ‘good’ without backing it up is hollow PR.”
Writers will also hit ‘Delete’ on charity initiatives, product descriptions, minor appointments and launches, fluffy hotel pieces with no news element, as well as press releases from events that happened so long ago it is impossible to still consider them “news”. Re-purpose these stories as a case study – and do it as soon as possible. Agencies still try to push case studies on events that took place more than six months ago, sometimes longer. Yes, client sign off takes time – editors have heard that a million times before. And that’s understandable, but it just means your case study is put aside and the agency that listened to the editor’s needs and prioritised client approval is the one that got coverage – in print, as well as online.
Other bugbears include the lack of a suitable photo, unquotable quotes or, as Colston adds, “too many quotes around the same thing for the sake of protocol and receiving a release after competitors or late in the day.”
While it is not essential that your PR story pitch ticks all the boxes above, it should certainly embrace many of them to boost your chances of clinching the media exposure your business desires.
For more expert tips on meetings industry PR and destinations and venues PR, see our last blog on how coronavirus is impacting the lives of journalists in the meetings industry, where we spoke to the editors of C&IT, Conference News and M&IT.
Clareville is offering 1 Hour of PR consultancy – for free – to businesses in the meetings and events industry. If you’re interested in this offer or would like help with crisis comms, please contact us by emailing [email protected] or calling +44 (0)207 736 4022.