This is the final installment in a series from Paul Chalker, Head of PR at Vendini, on strategies and tactics that live event venues can utilize to create awareness.
As we mentioned in our first post in this series, PR is one of the most difficult expenses to explain to your boss. And, landing somewhere between a science and an art, it’s not an easy task.
But with the right planning and preparation (and some resilience after being told “no” or “pass” fifty, a hundred or even a thousand times times), something might stick. And when you land that awesome story you’ll want to do everything in your power to make sure it gets read.
“But how do I do that?” you may ask.
Maximize your efforts with a few simple methods
Doing PR takes time, effort and, most importantly, effort — and once that sweet sweet article finally hits, most people assume that this is where the work ends. But in reality, this is where it’s most important to push.
Because honestly, what good is an article if no one reads it? Every placement you get is a piece of marketing material that can be used time and time again. It’s important to get every last drop of functionality out of that article, since it’s not every day you get an article on your venue.
So how do we maximize our efforts? Here are a few ways I’ve seen have serious impact, starting with a nice big “duh” for everyone:
Share all the things on all the socials
This might seem insanely obvious, but you’d be shocked how many folks I’ve seen get coverage, give each other a high five, and forget to share on social media. And while high fives are awesome — you need to do more! You’ve put so much effort into this already, neglecting social sharing would be like quitting a marathon 20 feet from the finish line.
You’ll want to share this across all of your channels: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+… heck take a picture of the article and post to Instagram. The more outlets you get in front of, the more likely people will like, share and comment on your news.
And probably the most important thing you can do: TAG RELEVANT PARTIES! Did you tag the reporter? What about the outlet that ran the story? Were any other venues or organizations mentioned? Tag them all! People love being tagged, and are more likely to share, like and comment on something that they’ve been directly tagged in. This gets you in front of new audiences who might not have seen the news otherwise.
And to give yourself some extra oomph, put some money in your posts. Even with five or ten dollars your post will go out to a larger audience than it would without any payment. If you were wondering when a good time to spend some money on Facebook was — it’s now, when you really want people to see your post.
(Vendini has a whole bunch of other great tips for social in general — if you’re curious, head on over and download the white paper here)
Get EVERYONE involved: friends, family, colleagues, loved ones, pets, etc.
If you’re a venue owner / decision maker, it’s safe to say that you have a group of folks that have been supporting you from the very beginning. Press coverage is almost like a trophy for your venue — one that you can hold high and acts as a sign of success (if it’s positive press, that is). And if you’re an employee, it’s a badge of honor (“oh wow, you were the news? That’s so cool!”).
Tap those supporters to help you — you’d be surprised how willing most folks will be to help. A good way to do this is to send an email to your friends, colleagues, family — anyone who supports you — telling them how proud you are and asking them if they wouldn’t mind sharing your article on social media.
Along with this, ask your employees to share! The more sharing that happens, the more eyeballs see the article. And not only is that good for your venue, it’s beneficial for the journalist who wrote the article. And if your article blows up with tons of views, they’re more inclined to write another article.
Ask the reporter to include a hyperlink to your venue in the article
Some reporters will add a hyperlink to your venue’s website regardless, but in the case that they haven’t — make sure to ask the reporter if they can add a hyperlink to the story. This will help redirect folks to your website, and ultimately raise awareness / sell more tickets.
When you send the link, make sure to send something trackable so you can see how many times it was clicked, etc. I recommend using Bitly, which is super fast and easy to use.
This isn’t an unusual ask, and most of the time reporters will do this without hesitation. Some outlets have policies against this, but again — don’t be afraid to ask. This is another way to maximize your efforts to get the most out of your PR.
Repurpose the article for your blog
Because why not stick that article on your blog if you already have one? Just make sure to credit the publication and journalist at the top. Here’s an example of an article we got placed in Inc.com for you to use as a template:
Now, what about measuring my PR’s effectiveness?
While there’s no hard and fast way to measure the “success” of a PR campaign or story, there are ways that you can put some numbers to it. Here are a few:
The sheer number of social shares
This might seem simple, but hey — want to prove to your boss that it was worth it? Show them how many times it was shared, favorited, liked, etc. And don’t be shy — give those folks a retweet, a favorite, even a “thanks for sharing.” All of that humanizes your brand and reminds those users of one very important thing; there’s a person behind that keyboard!
New followers? Welcome them and document how many of them came after your PR efforts
The more and more these articles get shared (and read), people will start checking out your venue on social channels. Sure, some of this is serendipity, but some of it is definitely coming from the coverage that you’ve received and the social shares you’ve gotten.
Don’t be afraid to thank them for following (i.e. “Thanks for the follow!”), and keep track of how many followers you’ve gained. Even if it’s just for the record, this is yet another way you can measure the effectiveness of your PR efforts.
Pro Tip: Up your social media game (promotions, etc) following your news coverage, you’ll have more eyes on you and more opportunity to turn profiles into patrons.
Put a number count to these blogs with site traffic numbers
Sites like Alexa and Compete will give you specific data like unique monthly views (which is kind of the gold standard for getting a quick idea of how “popular” a site is), geographic data and even provide their own rankings on where sites fall. While these numbers can differ from site to site, it’s always nice to be able to assign a specific number to these blogs.
Measure ticket sales
It’s important to note that PR shouldn’t be expected to affect your ticket sales. While it may, in fact, drive some attendance, you should never promise your boss / board this. It’s a pretty common notion that nothing in PR is ever a 100% guarantee…
That said, take a look at your ticket sales — have they spiked since your news hit? Was there a spike on the day the news come out? How about the few days following? Are you noticing traffic coming to your site through social channels where your news has been shared? Review these numbers and if there has been a spike, there’s a strong chance that your PR had something to do with it.
Relationships you’ve built
Where quantitative data can be what most bosses / board members are looking for, it’s extremely important to also look at the qualitative data here as well. Possibly one of the biggest areas of this is with the relationships you’ve built; the connections you’ve made.
Is this reporter now friendly with you (a.k.a. a “friendly”)? Would they answer your email if you reached out to them again? If the answer to these questions is yes, then it’s safe you say that you now have an ally (or even just a contact) in the media.
Pro Tip: Want to keep this relationship going? Follow reporters on social media, comment and share their articles and let them know which pieces you enjoyed — this will help you stay top of mind.
Did you get the message across that you wanted to?
Last but certainly not least — did you tell the story that you set out to tell? This is the whole point of you doing this, right? To broadcast your story to a large audience?
Getting your message across is one of the best indicators of whether or not a story has gone well. Sure, size of the publication is important. But if you have a well-written, solid article that hits on points that you set out to make, then consider that a win.
Organizations wanting PR, but having no clue where to even start, is an incredibly common trend I’ve seen. It seems like this illusive, magical creature that is impossible to catch. But with preparation, planning and a little bit of elbow grease — it’s entirely possible.
Be sure to check the other posts in the How To Promote Your Venue series too!