Tips for Hosting Journalists at Events

It’s a common practice for event planners to invite journalists to the shows they organize, as the journalists provide needed exposure that can boost reputation and increase attendance for future functions. Hosting journalists entails special considerations. For instance, many journalists will refuse offers to pay for even the most minor expenses, such as snacks. If you’re considering hosting journalists at your next event, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Work with your PR team. Don’t attempt to host a journalist without involving your PR team. Make sure you work with a PR professional to manage every detail of the event, including scheduling interviews with speakers. PR specialists should work directly with the journalist to address questions such as any content that is considered off limits for reporting. Your PR team also needs to help you alert attendees and speakers about the presence of journalists and set ground rules for interacting with them.

Provide a detailed travel itinerary. Describe in detail all the travel, accommodation and activity information for the journalist’s visit. Include contact details for those individuals they might need to reach during the event or as they’re planning their trip. And make sure you share contact names who can respond to a journalist immediately. In addition, make sure you send all of the event documentation that you provide to attendees so the journalist can become familiar with the theme and experience.

Set the ground rules for expense reimbursement. As part the travel itinerary, make it clear what expenses you’ll be advancing and which costs you expect the journalist to cover. These would include typical travel arrangements like flights, hotels and meal. Expenses might also relate to incidentals like in-town transportation, gratuities and WiFi costs. Note that many journalists will refuse your offers to cover any expenses, owing to the policies of their publications.

Welcome journalists at a meet-and-greet upon arrival. Usually held at the destination airport, a welcome from a team member is helpful for journalists visiting from out of town. The courtesy shows that you appreciate their attendance and it makes them feel more at ease in an unfamiliar city. If possible, introduce the media to their hosts and offer basic refreshments: a bottle of water is like gold to someone who has been traveling for a few hours. Then, transport them via shuttle to their hotels and let them know how to get to the event venue from their lodging locations.

Deliver a general event agenda and one for specific interests. Because journalists have niche-based readership, they’re likely to want to focus on certain topics being presented at your event. While you’ll provide them with an event agenda, you should also include information on their specific interests – both at the show and around the host venue. Tell them about area attractions, landmarks, or sites that they may want to cover when publishing content about your event.

Make sure to allow for free time. Just like your event attendees, journalists need some down time. Encourage them to attend the social mixers you plan for the entire show, but also consider arranging functions that will be attended only by their colleagues. They find value in networking opportunities with their contemporaries in a more casual environment.

How do you make journalists feel welcome at your events without going overboard? What are some benefits you’ve experienced from inviting the media to cover your events?

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing bduffy@onesmoothstone.com

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