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What You Need to Know Before Pitching an Event to the News Media

"If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations." ~ Bill Gates

BLOC Coffee Company is a great place to sit down with a good book or a good friend. You can also enjoy an incredible (and totally Instagrammable) latte or sandwich. But there’s much more brewing beneath the surface of this Price Hill-top gem.

Profits from the coffee shop benefit BLOC (Believing and Living One Christ)

Ministries, an inner city non-profit organization serving adults and children. In early 2019, the organization decided to have a “latte art throwdown,” a competition to raise funds and awareness specifically for the women’s ministry, which provides shelter, jobs, meals, and more to women who have been homeless, abused, addicted, or trafficked. Signal Tree Creative Communications was given the opportunity to promote the event through local news media. Sounds like a publicity home run, right?

Score More Pre-Event Coverage

Planning for pre-event coverage is key if you’re hoping to attract the audience to attend an event. While this event had many news-worthy qualities (great visual opportunity, relevant societal issues) it had the disadvantage of being scheduled on Cincinnati Reds Opening Day. Local news resources would be devoted to covering the game and the many activities around the city.

I leveraged the weight of this issue to gain traction with local producers and reporters the week of the Thursday event. BLOC’s director and a coffee shop manager appeared together as guests Good Morning Cincinnati on Local 12 to talk about their mission and the event while pictures of latte art, created by BLOC baristas, provided a visual backdrop.

Check Your Visual Starting Lineup

TV viewers need something to see, so I worked with the BLOC team to offer experienced baristas creating the latte art. Fox 19 Meteorologist Catherine Bodak spent the morning before the event with us, providing 10 minutes of live coverage during four segments of the morning show. Having one person to interview while another provides a demonstration is good practice. Catherine even tried her hand at making latte art, and recorded additional shots for the evening news broadcast.

The shop itself provided the perfect setting for Kathrine Nero to broadcast live for her show, “Coffee Break with Kathrine,” which streams daily on the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Facebook page. In addition to interviewing BLOC staff, Kathrine also interviewed a reporter and photographer from the Enquirer about their recent coverage of sex trafficking. The 20-minute segment is one of the most-viewed videos in the series.

Update Your Stats

Knowing numbers associated with your event or organization is critical to preparing for a news media interview. Before promoting the event we reviewed numbers for the competition, including number of participants, date and time, cost, prizes, etc. I also confirmed details about the organization: when was it was founded, impact in terms of dollars or lives touched, hours of operation. Circulating these facts among staff is important to making sure the information provided to media is accurate and consistent. A fact sheet is a good format to provide information to reporters.

These are just a few of the steps needed to execute a successful public relations strategy for an event. Please contact me to learn more. I also encourage you to visit, or stop into their shop at 801 Mt. Hope Avenue in Cincinnati.


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