5 Ways to Make Press Feel Welcome at Your Next Event

Skift Take

You did it. The press are coming to your event. Now what? Believe it or not, you can make their jobs easier and make a big impression with just a few quick things.

Trying too hard.

It didn’t work in high school and it’s something your press attendees will see right through. You need to walk a fine line between making them feel welcome/helping them feel included, and slathering it on so thick that all they report is the awkward, overzealous attempts to include them. Maintaining that balance is critical to great press coverage for your event.

Here are five ways to ensure the press are well looked after at your event:

  1. Welcome them at check-in, having done your homework.
  2. Prepare an agenda based on things you know they’ll be interested in.
  3. Provide a room for the press.
  4. Check-in with them at the event.
  5. Follow-up to answer questions and thank them for coming.

You’ve spent time identifying the appropriate press and industry influencers, courting them, inviting them, and following up to ensure they’re coming to your event. Now the event is finally here and you want to make a great impression.

Before you even see them, and after they’ve RSVP’d make sure they know all the key information, such as the hours of your event, mobile numbers for key people and where to park. Today’s press travel pretty lightly but if the news is coming, cameras are still fairly cumbersome. If possible, don’t make them lug things around. Give them preferred parking, or at least preferred drop-off, the way you might exhibitors.

Personalization is key to event attendee experience and that’s exactly where you should start with the press as well.

1. Provide a Welcoming Check-in Experience

There are things you want to provide press attendees at check-in that you don’t provide regular attendees. Yes, there’s the press pass but there are a few other things you want to give them. Such as:

  • Greeting them with a warm smile and thanking them for coming. It seems so basic and something you do for attendees anyway, but know that just as attendees have choices in how they spend their budgets, press and industry influencers have many choices in how they allocate their time. Make sure they know you appreciate them spending it with you.
  • A welcome bag and press kit This should be largely utilitarian. It could include bottled water; a granola bar (like you, press covering an event often don’t have time to eat and between the information gathering/coverage and submitting articles they’re often on the run); and background info/press release and interviews on a USB. Anything that will provide for minor comforts and utility in performing their job will be appreciated.
  • An agenda based on their interests. You performed your due diligence when reaching out to them in the first place so you should know their interests and reporting needs. This agenda should include their interests, not yours. You should not tell them what they need to see or what shots they need to get. Make sure they understand they’re welcome to attend and mingle throughout the entire event but that you took the liberty to highlight some things of interest for them.

2. Ensure They Know Where to Go

As part of the check-in experience, you provided them with the personalized agenda based on their reporting interests. That means you highlighted different matters of interest for lifestyle reporters versus tech reporters.

You should also include people of interest, with their contact information, but offer to make the introductions if they would prefer. In addition to people of interest and their contact information ensure the press:

  • Know you personalized their agenda with the information you believed they’d find most interesting based on their areas of reporting. If you don’t tell them, they might not look at it.
  • Have a media contact person for questions. Respect their time and put them in touch with someone who can quickly get them what they need. It doesn’t have to be you. It can be an assistant who can get answers and make things happen quickly.
  • Are part of the festivities. While press passes may get them access to everything, don’t sequester them in special sections all the time. Encourage the mingling.

3. Give Them Their Own Space

Unless it’s a very small, short event where they will be going home in an hour or two to write their piece, it’s always a nice touch to create a press area. Often this is just a small room with:

  • comfortable chairs and work spaces
  • limited refreshments (like water and a light grab-and-go snacks)
  • areas to plug-in
  • excellent WiFi

It’s a spot to get away from the crowd and possibly record a video or audio instead of traipsing all the way back to their hotel room. You can also make it a nice place to stage interviews by adding good lighting and an event backdrop.

Keep in mind, not all press coverage will be written. The press could be using Facebook Live, podcast coverage, video, and a host of other formats to cover your event. Make it as frictionless as possible for them.

4. Check In with Them at the Event

Check in with them periodically at the event. See if there’s anything they need (including chargers). Ask if they’d like you to make introductions to any of the people you listed in their agenda packet. Find out if the press space is to their liking and if they could use anything in there that’s not there currently.

Remember, the key to a good press event is not pampering them but helping them do their jobs in the most effective, effortless way. They’ll appreciate that above all else.

5. Follow-up and Thank Them for Coming

Of course, you will thank them for coming at the event but it’s always a nice touch to send them a thank you follow up afterwards. A physical thank you card makes the biggest impression but in today’s world of immediate posts, the mailed card could reach them days after their post or article went live. If that’s the case, you may want to send a thank you email instead. Handwritten thank you cards are still very worthwhile, especially if the recipient writes for a print magazine.

A Word About Small Events

If you’re hosting a small event that is only a few hours long, a press room may not be necessary but making their jobs easier is still very much a part of your goal. Make the introductions they need because in a small window of time, they won’t have as many hours to hunt people down. Prepare your statement (or the statement of who’s speaking for the organization) ahead of time so you’re ready whenever the press is. And make sure they have informal spots to do interviews and broadcasts, and above all, ensure the WiFi is top-notch.

In Conclusion

If you’ve taken the time to identify, court, and invite the press to your event, you want to ensure they enjoy themselves and have what they need to do their jobs. An event planner who can make life easier for a member of the press or an industry influencer is one they don’t soon forget.