6 Easy Steps to Attract Press Coverage


Media TruckWithout promotion, something terrible happens…nothing!
– P.T. Barnum

A write-up in the newspaper or a television spot featuring your event can attract throngs of fans, boost ticket sales and make you appear like a “big name” even when you’re just starting out. It’s worth the effort.

But everyone else is clamoring from press attention, so how do you get it? Follow these 6 steps:

1. Laser-Focus Your Media Outreach

These days, reporters have tighter deadlines than ever before, along with stuffed email inboxes and constant content to produce. They are not only responsible for making short deadlines and editing their own work; they may be required to maintain blogs, video or social accounts.

In short, they’re busy. That’s why laser-focusing your media outreach is so important. Send your pitches and press releases off to the right publications. Check your publication’s editorial calendar online if it’s public, so you don’t make the mistake of sending a pitch on a story they just covered. An editorial calendar can also clue you in to what topics they’re going to cover in the future.

Ask your fans what they read or watch—it could include anything from newsletters to blogs and social media. Tally responses and remove media outlets that do not influence your local market. From there, create a “top 5” list.

Never hound journalists. Think of media outreach like dating—the slightest air of desperation is an immediate turn off. If an editor or journalist “ghosts” you (doesn’t respond to your pitch), assume he or she is not into it and move on. Follow-up only once, if that.

Did you know Brown Paper Tickets offers free promo advice and support to event organizers? Just call us at (800) 838-3006 or email promo [at] brownpapertickets [dot] com.

2. Identify Your Unique Value Proposition 

 Identify what makes you unique before you pitch. Ask yourself two questions:

  • What is it about your show that makes new ticket buyers want to spend their hard-earned money?
  • What makes your event worth the price?

You Had Us at “All-Cat Rock Band”

Acrocats-CatPiano

See the Amazing Acro-Cats, a cat circus that recently appeared on the Colbert Report and tours nationally, in a big, feline-festooned bus.

The “unique value” of the cat circus seems obvious. Who wouldn’t want to see a cat circus? But suppose I am a reporter. I get invited to lots of things and maybe I pass on the amazing cat circus because I just wrote about a circus act last month.

How about an all-cat rock band, the “only in existence” with a lead performer named Tuna who plays a mean kitty cowbell? Bingo, that’s a unique value, the “silver tuna,” if you want to get pun-y. Acro-Cats’ show also teaches clicker training, encourages adoption and gives money to cat rescue. All of those things make the show unique and valuable to ticket buyers.

Add your unique value proposition to the title, description and headline of your press release or in the opening paragraph of your pitch email.

If you’re wondering, the Amazing Acro-Cats will be in “Mew” Orleans for a Meowy Catmas December 4 – December 20.

3. Use Objective Superlatives 

Now that you have a unique value proposition, you’ll need to find your superlatives. Remember, reporters need provable facts. They cannot use wildest, most creative, most fun, most unique because those are subjective.

Add measurable facts to your media outreach materials. Maybe your event is the largest or the only event in a specific genre. Or maybe the event had more performers or performances than any other in the state or country.

Back up your claim in one sentence:

The largest metal music festival in Kalamazoo, Michigan

The only all-cat rock band in existence

The longest-running food and wine tour in Napa

4. Go Local

Localize your event to create an attractive angle for the press to cover—add a location name to the title and choose the largest community possible to reach a greater amount of people.

But if the smaller place has more oompf and cache for your specific event, use that. A Hollywood burlesque fest might attract more attention than a LA burlesque festival because Hollywood is all about glam.

Have your performers reach out to his/her local neighborhood blogs to let them know about the “hometown guy or gal makes it good” story with your event as the hook.

5. Offer Visuals

Reporters are strapped for time; publications are strapped for cash. They won’t likely send a photojournalist and a reporter to your event—be prepared to provide g-rated, safe-for-work, high-res photos and videos. Ask your performers for headshots and keep them at the ready, so you don’t lose the story.

When it comes to video, remember that television stations aren’t likely to use promotional videos with music, graphic, credits or logos embedded over them.

Be professional and responsive. If you work well with the reporter the first time, they may run stories on your event in the future.

6. Get Listed

The low-hanging fruit of the PR world, calendar listings are easy to get and almost always generate ticket sales. Newsletter, blogs or The New York Times, most publications have calendar listings. Search for “how to submit an event” and carefully review and follow submission instructions. If you can’t find instructions, ask the publication if they’re willing to write about it or include it in topics shared with the community.

What are your secrets for getting press coverage or working with media? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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8 Secrets to Writing Event Pages That Convert

BPT_Icons_Typewriter-01The bad news: From email newsletters to Facebook posts to the New York Times, the moment your prospective customers arise, they’re bombarded with things to read. You get a few mere seconds to hook ’em, which means your event description and website copy needs to be polished and punchy.

The good news: You don’t have to resort to all caps headlines (YOU’RE SCREAMING), inappropriate visuals or sixteen exclamation points to sell tickets.

1. Talk the Talk
Burlesque performer Sailor St. Claire’s website is an amazing example of brand voice and well-done copy. “With her scintillating wit and copious charms, Sailor channels academic excellence into burlesque bravura …”

Scintillating wit, copious charms. Just by the word choice, we know she is one literary lady.

Fancy $2 words work well to attract a bookish burlesque audience, but could turn away down-to-earth attendees of a hot dog eating contest. Use nomenclature that appeals to your prospective event goers.

2. Sensory Details
Good writing helps readers see what you see. Vague writing gives a blurry image and puts your reader to sleep.

Eliminate “beautiful, great, fun, perfect, unique” from your event page. “What makes it unique?” “Perfect?” “Fun?” Draw out the descriptive details.

Flex your vocabulary. If your event is a poetry reading at a “burnt-out warehouse down by the docks” (yes, that’s a Seinfeld reference), avoid the descriptive term, “unique.” It’s edgy. It’s industrial chic, a hip hideaway, a creative hive with high ceilings.

3. Be Specific
Avoid writing “we will serve food.” Your prospective ticket buyers won’t know if you’re going to hand them a bag of Fritos or a Cornish hen.

You might not know ahead of time the specific dishes you’ll serve, but there are nuances between words for food. “Snacks” is more dips, chips and veggie plates, while “hor d’oeuvres” is toothpick and finger sandwich food. “Snack” lends itself to a more casual affair, “hor d’oeuvres” says black ties and heels.

When specific, little details wrangle expectations and offer a clear image of the event.

4. Don’t Dare Bury the 5 “W”s
Providing sensory details helps your ticket buyers envision the event, but don’t bury who, what, where, when, why. Include your performers’ or instructors’ names and past performances or awards in your event description. Read this PR post for more on how to find your unique value propositions.

Break up the text to three sentences per paragraph. Avoid huge paragraph blocks. Add the nearest subway lines or parking tips to ease commuter anxiety. Let your event goers know if they don’t need to be “on time” and can just drop in.

5. A Few Words on Brevity
“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” Blaise Pascal, the Provincial Letters.

One mistake nascent writers make is far too much. Never assume your reader will pore over every word. In fact, assume that they won’t. Especially on an event page.

Go ahead, write it all out, but then go back in and trim, trim, trim. Here’s how:

Hunt down redundant terms and descriptions. Did you describe something twice? Are you guilty of duplicating details? (See what I did there?)

Just say no to passive voice. Passive voice is like an ill-fitting t-shirt. It isn’t wrong, but it isn’t doing you justice. Tattoo the words: am, are, was, were, be, being, been on the inside of your wrist. (OK, fine, just put them on a post-it near your desk.) When you notice these, switch up the sentence so it’s active.

Passive: The event was attended by more than 600 excited people.
Active: More than 600 excited people attended the event.

Punch it up. Employ one-word sentences and don’t fear phrases. 

“Amazing. Still a ticket left to see our band rock the Warehouse this Friday. Is it yours?”

“It’s amazing, there is still a space left to see our band rock the Warehouse this Friday night at 3:00PM in the afternoon. Could it be yours?”

6. Prominent Call-to-Action (CTA)

Marketing-BPT-CTA

Put a Brown Paper Tickets’ button or text link “above the fold,” (i.e. positioned in the top half) of your website. Never make your customers search for the link to buy tickets. Write your call to action in the imperative. Buy Now, RSVP, Join the Party. You can be creative, but for best results, give an action to take.

7. SEO for Success
Do not slap your flyer on your website and call it a day. Image files are not readable by search engines like Google. Fill out all related categories on your Brown Paper Tickets’ page and use keywords in your title and on the page (e.g. food and drink for a cooking event, etc.) More about SEO.

8. Hashtag It
Giving-Tuesday Advertise your hashtag on your event flyer and page and prominently display it on signage at the event. A hashtag points your attendees to where to talk about your event and streamlines feedback for your post-event analysis. Encourage your attendees to post photos. Research hashtags.

Have a writing tip? Ring in below.

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3 Secrets to Booking Great Shows

Music Festival Booking TipsI booked my first punk show in 1991 at the tender age of 18, so that’s 23 years of experience booking shows. Crazy.

A lot has changed. Nearly all communication was via phone or letters. Very few venues were keen on booking punk rock, so finding a venue (let alone an all-ages venue) was a challenge. To get the word out, you literally had to visit every town within a 100-mile radius and physically hang posters. Or find that town’s punk rock record store and give everyone with dyed hair or a leather jacket a handbill.

These days, it’s much easier to get the word out and to communicate with artists and venues. In fact, whole tours can be booked and promoted without making a single phone call or leaving home. That said, there are still some important things event organizers and producers should keep in mind when booking a night of music.

Here are three tips to steer you in the right direction:

1. Curate Your Bills

Back in the day, many things fell under the punk rock or “alternative” umbrella – a bill could feature a ska band, a psychobilly band and an electronic act. Today, music fans are easily able to fine tune their tastes and genres. The most successful bookers I know are ones who really got to know the bands’ sound and audience. They realize that even though the opener may not have a huge draw yet, the headliner’s audience will probably dig them. In this case, the sound of the bands, not their draw matters. This helps build the opener’s audience and creates a night of music tailored to the audience’s tastes. The audience not only gets to see the band they love, they also may discover a new favorite act.

2. Limit Your Acts

Playing or attending shows with five or six bands drives me crazy. It’s a disservice to everyone because bands have to play super short sets, get gear on and off as quickly as possible and audiences spend more time watching bands set up than watching them perform. Big bills can work for special events like festivals, but even then there should be a shared backline of drums and bass to ensure smooth transitions between acts.

Some bookers argue that more bands equals a bigger draw, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. Most fans would rather see a full set from their favorite band than a condensed one. They will likely hold out for a later bill where they can see a full set. Additionally, the bands know they won’t be able to flex their muscles performance-wise and will split the door amongst six other bands, so there’s little incentive for them to promote the show.

3. Promote (And Not Just on Facebook)

With the onset of social media, guerrilla promotions have fallen by the wayside. Often, producers and organizers seem content with creating a Facebook event page and shooting out a couple tweets. While this is an essential part of your promotional plan, don’t rely solely on social media, especially considering Facebook’s diminishing reach. Get out there and hang posters, contact the local press or bug some folks at your local independent radio stations. Basically, do all the old school “guerrilla” promotional tactics in conjunction with social media.

Nothing is more compelling than seeing a cool poster all over town or being handed a playbill by one of the band members. Get creative. You’ll see better results.

Share your thoughts and event tips for booking shows.

Photo Credit: Amanda Halm

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