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Promoting your event

Depending on the size of your event you may wish or NEED to promote the event in the public arena. The media; newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, and now the internet may be a tool for you to accomplish some of your goals. These goals may be to promote your club, to increase participations, or to bolster your event's standing in the community. Lastly, it may be a vehicle to gratify your sponsors as well. As an event promoter, utilizing the media is done for the following three reasons:

Inform the public

This is the "get the word out" strategy. Your use of the media for this goad is to gain more participants and build excitement for your event that will also potentially gain you more spectators. Depending on the scope of your project you may start with the events calendars in your local newspaper or car clubs. You may print flyers and distribute them. If you have a big event, your contact and information campaign needs to start well ahead of time. For MAA events, 12-16 months is a minimum. Car magazines usually have a 60-90 day lead time. Newspapers are typically 1-2 weeks out on special sections like "Automotive". Internet sites can offer some degree of instant gratification but it's dependent on how involved the webmaster is.
To get a major publication to print your event in their calendar or do editorial on it requires clear and concise information to be presented to the right people. Most publications will direct you to the proper department. You may place a call to an editor but understand that these people are usually slammed and don't have a lot of time to talk to everyone who calls. They're not being rude, they are just very busy. Be patient, but not a pest. Thanks to the internet revolution, you can email most everything to them.

Media coverage during your event

Why do this? It makes you feel good. Really though, media coverage on site at your event is an excellent way build the credibility if you plan future ventures. It is indeed a coup to have a car magazine attend a show or convoy and have it written up at length. To have TV cameras or radio reporters on site giving instant coverage can be exciting and draw more spectators - instantly.
How do you do it? With print publications you build relationships so they know who you are. When you finaly invite them to be a part of your event, they know you are sincere and credible. You get there by keeping them informed of your plans, milestones, and expected draw - best via email notes or letters. Phone calls are OK once you have a rapport. Understand that publishers, despite public perception, have a very tight budget and profit line. They don't really have deep pockets to send highly paid writers and photographers all over the country for fun. They will do it, but you might offer them a ride in your car and buy them dinner once in a while.
TV and radio media lives by the moment. Talking to them weeks or months ahead of an event is a waste of your time unless you know someone there. It is best to issue press releases within a few days of your event. A press release is a type written narative of your event stating mostly facts, you know who, what, where, when, and why. Fax it or email it to the news editor. Be sure to add your contact information including cell phones. They may call you at any time and want instant information.

Media coverage after your event

If you were not lucky or crafty enough to garner a major press frenzy for your show or convoy, don't be discouraged. Be sure to have someone taking good pictures and notes of the event. Again, your goal here is to tell people how great the venture was so they will come back next time. After the dust settles, write a short narrative with photos and send them to your local papers, car magazines, and internet sites. They are usually in need of content and will print the stories in most cases. The strategy here is to have GOOD photos, and a story that people will be interested in. In 1994, my wedding was a Mustang car show in a park with cars laid out in a horseshoe formation. We sent a photo and story to all the Mustang Magazines and all but one ran it. Try it you'll like it.


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