How to not make the news
In a community like ours, sometimes it’s feast or famine when it comes to the news. My phone’s calendar has plenty of blue “specks” which tell me I have news-related event coming up. That could be anything from a city council or school board meeting, to a bake sale, to an interview with a public official or business owner, or just the random story that comes across the radar.
Other times, it seems like not much is happening, or if something happens, it’s an event we’ve already covered recently.
Every once in a while, I’ll hear from someone, “Oh, I wish you’d been able to come out.”
And there are times, I’d like to tell them, I wish I’d been able to cover an event, too. Or at least made sure I could assign a writer to go.
However, I’ve noticed a few things people do to make certain the news doesn’t cover their event and/or people doesn’t draw the crow they thought it would. Here, in no particular order, are six ways to not make the news (please forgive the split infinitive):
1. Only tell your friends about what your group is planning to do because they will immediately tell everyone they know about the great event you’re hosting. Um, maybe not. Good friends are a blessing. But they get busy, too, and have their own schedules to coordinate.
2. Don’t send the newspaper a press release, either via email or in person. If your group is having an event, of course everyone will know. I mean, you posted a few times on Facebook about it, and that should be fine, right? Um, see #6.
3. Email or call the newspaper about your event the night before it happens. Or day of. There is no such thing as telling us too early. (Did I mention it’s not too early to tell us about what you have planned?)
4. If we happen to hear about your event, don’t return our call or email if we contact you. It’s been four weeks since I’ve called someone about a really interesting project their group is doing in our community and I have yet to hear from them. I’ve gotten busy with other news projects, but this one is still in the back of my mind.
5. If we happen to know about your event or group, make sure you don’t list an email, phone number, Facebook page, or somewhere that someone can contact you. Make it hard for us to find you. Chances are, maybe we can find out from a friend of a friend or another colleague about how to get in touch with you. Or maybe not.
6. Rely on social media alone to get the word out about what you’re doing. Yes, Facebook will “always be free,” but how many of those “invites” you sent out actually get read and responded to? How do you know your target audience will find your event? Social media is just one of many good tools to get the word out about what you’re doing, but if you don’t use it properly it doesn’t work. Also, don’t limit yourself to one way to promote your event. Use everything at your disposal, digital and print.