Pitch your event to media

How can you achieve news coverage as an online science event producer? Hundreds of people contact journalists each day seeking to promote their issues or get free publicity. With the 24-hour news cycle flooded with stories of pandemics, politics, financial crises and pressing news issues, public events that celebrate a campaign like National Science Week are in themselves not newsworthy.

Improve your chances of getting noticed by:

  • Referring to other stories covered by the journalist you are targeting – how might your event add information that may be of value to their audiences?
  • Ensuring you have great pictures! They speak a thousand words! What compelling images or striking videos do you have to support your event?
  • Is there something novel about your event delivery or a surprising or unexpected audience opportunity?

Who is the audience the journalist is trying to reach?

Think of the audience of the media outlet you are targeting – why would they care about this issue and be interested in potentially attending this online event?

What’s the news value?

Find a relevant news hook. If there is no news value in your event, is there a surprising or heart-warming story you could share or a compelling image that may grab their attention?

Use your networks

It can be a challenge to gain interest from the media for a public event, let alone events that are delivered online. It is always beneficial to draw on your connections – in particular, any relationships you may have developed with journalists, editors or producers from previous professional encounters. Ask them which journalist may be interested in your event topic and seek their help is ensuring your story gets to the right person.

Ensure your interview talent is the right fit

If you are pitching interviews with event participants, make sure that they are available to be interviewed. Check whether they can be interviewed at short notice. If they happen to be unavailable, find another person to be interviewed.

Brief your talent! Check they can speak to a journalist about their topic in an engaging way. Tell them that they should avoid jargon and share their story concisely and enthusiastically in a way that relates to the target audience.

Will a media release increase your chances of getting attention?

Before you decide to send out a media release announcing your online events, consider this: only one in ten media releases will be read.

Your media release is unlikely to cut through unless it has relevance to the news of the day, addresses a subject matter of interest to the audience of a particular journalist or piques interest in the first few lines.

No one will read a media release in full, so make sure the few lines are compelling.

Journalists are bombarded with media releases from those keen for media attention. They frequently scan the subject line and do not open emails. When they do, if nothing jumps out in the first paragraph, they are unlikely to keep reading.

In many cases, sending a personal email about your event directly to journalists that may be interested in the topic your event will address is likely to have more impact than sending out a media release.

Ensure your email is concise and to the point, with a compelling proposition in the subject heading. List the most exciting elements of your event in the first paragraph and add concise information about who, what, when, why and – of much less relevance this year considering NSW events are online – where.

Include a relevant event description that speaks to why it may appeal to the journalists’ audiences in the first few lines of your email.

Provide a link to your event and attach a photographic image that is landscape-oriented, without any text, and a caption included in the body of the email

If you chose to provide a media release, don’t send it out as an attachment. Instead, paste text into the body of an email.

More ideas about how to get noticed by the media

  • Marcus Strom and Peter Munro have been the target of hundreds of pitches over their respective media careers, including as former Fairfax journalists who regularly covered science stories. Read their insights on how to effectively pitch stories to journalists in a changing media landscape here
  • See too tips from Kirsten Barnes on using social media
  • The National Science Week Event Holder’s Guide (560 kB, pdf) sets out all of the steps in staging a public event for Science Week, including planning, event objectives, budgeting, venue considerations, insurance, promotion and media, as well as post event cleanup and evaluation.

By Jackie Randles, Manager Inspiring Australia NSW.