Our top tips for a successful media launch

We are supporting our client, St Ann’s Hospice, with their Build It Together media campaign to raise the final £2million they need to start building a brand new hospice for the people of Greater Manchester.

We were delighted to be asked to organise the media launch, making sure the appeal got off to a good start with plenty of press attending. 

As it is a targeted fundraising campaign our focus was on securing regional and local media. ITV Granada Reports and BBC Radio Manchester came along on the day, with coverage across other media including North West Tonight and a front page story in the Stockport Express. We’ve also organised other successful media events including for energy consultancy social enterprise Box Power and even an event at the House of Lords with the People’s Powerhouse to launch a report focused on the people and communities of the North.

So if you’re asked to organise a PR launch or media event what should you be thinking about? Here are some of our top tips for a successful PR launch event. 

Make sure your client is involved in planning the day

Involve staff (and volunteers if relevant) from different teams in planning the event if you can – they know the organisation better than you do – and may well think up creative ideas or approaches that you haven’t tried before, or know people that can help.

Check diaries and that there’s nothing big already happening that day

There’s no point competing with another high profile event trying to secure the same media if you don’t need to!  

Check the weather forecast!

If your event is going to be held outside, have a contingency plan for if it’s pouring with rain – even in the height of summer.

The best speakers are not always the most senior people

Find the people who have a good story to tell or who enjoy speaking (or singing or dancing!) in public.

Have a diverse range of voices

Make sure your event reflects the wider community.

Send a reminder

It’s helpful to remind people that it’s in the diary and check they are still planning to come along.

Accept that news desks don’t plan items weeks in advance

You might be working on the campaign for weeks in advance but planning teams don’t work that way. By all means contact them well in advance, but news teams will definitely show more interest the closer the event becomes. For many press launches it’s  usual to not quite be sure what press will definitely be able to make it until the day before. So make sure you clear enough time close to the event for last-minute chasing.

Make a plan – but prepare for it to change

Make sure you have some sort of plan or running order for internal use. This can include when staff should arrive and who is responsible for looking after which guests. But, be prepared for that plan to change. Journalists may want to arrive earlier or later, have special requests or ask for things on the day.

Accept that the news agenda might mean your event doesn’t get top billing

The media may say they are coming and then not be able to make it anymore. Accept it, it happens. That’s the nature of news. But all is not lost – see what else you can supply even if they can no longer go along.

Liven things up!

You may not be aiming for coverage on TV or radio, but having good visuals, images and stunts can really elevate a media launch. At our St Ann’s Hospice launch, we had staff and volunteers hold up numbers to make the £2million, which was great for TV and print coverage. 

Agree your spokespeople in advance

Consider the people who’ll be speaking to the media. Brief them beforehand and explain key messages, if necessary. Try and get a gist of questions that journalists will ask them, if you can. That should allow them to prepare and calm any nerves.

Keep those not attending updated 

If journalists, key spokespeople or anyone else cannot make the launch, think about keeping them posted in other ways. Use social media and hashtags, post pictures from your smartphone of the event or think about doing a livestream. If reporters, in particular, can’t come, find out if they want pictures, video and any information from the event. What’s their deadline? 

It’s not over when it’s over!

Make sure you leave enough time for the follow up work and making sure everyone has what they need. And don’t forget to share a summary of the event’s successes internally as well as externally – securing buy-in for the next press event!

For expert advice planning your media event or PR launch please get in touch with the team at hello@highrisecommunications.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you.