Understanding what the media want

The Collaborative Creations PR team spent part of this week at EventLab, the conference and exhibition organised by venue hire platform Hire Space.

Among the many informative sessions throughout the day was ‘Event industry media - what does it want and what does the future look like?’, with panelists Martin Fullard, editor of Conference News, Paul Harvey, deputy editor of M&IT magazine, and event planner and content curator Amanda Thurlow, moderated by Ken Kelling of Davies Tanner PR.

The journalists on-stage discussed their approach to industry news, the kind of stories they looked to publish and some of the pressing trends and topics affecting the events industry and trade press more widely.

Here are just some of the takeaways.

Keep it simple

With PR, moderation is key. A press release rarely has to be a long document, and never has to include quirky fonts or layouts. Get to the point quickly, begin with the most important details and understand the relevance to the particular publication you're liaising with.

A press release concerning an event production company, for example, will be of interest to different editors for different reasons. More technical, equipment-focused publications might welcome specific details around what kit was used, whereas others would baulk at the jargon and technical language.

Write to suit your audience, and get to the point.

Be original

One of the topics that arises during the discussion is sustainability, and the hundreds of businesses that churn out press releases detailing their latest “innovations”, which are often anything but. As Harvey explains, the first time a venue announces a ban on plastic straws it does seem innovative, but by the time every other venue has sent out its own press release it starts to feel like bandwagon-jumping.

Fullard points out that true sustainability isn’t just about taking a few tokenistic measures, but about rethinking and reforming every facet of a business from the ground up. If a business can demonstrate a true, transformative approach to the sustainability question it can still catch a journalist's eye.

Find the hook

Similar to the above, and as Harvey points out, the story a business wants to tell is often very different from the one the journalist wants to tell. The key is to find that interesting perspective or opinion that doesn’t come across as PR fluff but genuine opinions, innovations and thought leadership.

As Fullard states: “If it bores you to write it, it’ll bore me to read it.”

Reach out

Strong working relationships between PR professionals and journalists often come down to just that: having a strong, personal working relationship. Firing off mass “Dear editor” emails can only get you so far, and may even put the editor off publishing a story or feature. It’s impersonal and can feel lazy and generic.

Tailor stories to specific publications and, importantly, reach out to the journalists in question and grow to understand the specific stories, features, trends and issues that interest them.

There are so many people in events reluctant to pick up a phone or head out to a networking event, but if our industry can’t understand the value and importance of building those in-person relationships then we really are in trouble.

EventLab took place on 14-15 October at the Business Design Centre, London.

Pictured left to right: Ken Kelling, Amanda Thurlow, Paul Harvey, Martin Fullard