posted by Public Relations
Recently, thunder::tech had the incredible opportunity to launch a media relations campaign for Cirque du Soleil's signature show Dralion. During it's run at the Cleveland State University Wolstein Center, we were tasked
with generating media awareness in the Cleveland market.
As anyone would imagine, this was the dream media relations project. Not only do you get the world-renowned name of Cirque du Soleil, but you also get the non-stop pace of the entertainment industry. After being selected in December, we knew we had our work cut out and couldn’t wait to get started.
Working on this whirlwind adventure, I was able to build off my previous media relations experience while learning lessons along the way that can translate to future campaigns.
Though media relations professionals use certain best practices with every project, working within the entertainment industry can be a whole new ball game.
Based on my recent entertainment PR experience, here are some specific best practices to add to your toolbox:
Be accommodating and flexible
Any time you work with the media, you must have a cooperative, obliging approach. The more hoops you jump through, the happier they’ll be.
This is even truer in the entertainment industry. Usually with larger name clients, media are more interested and oftentimes, more rushed to deliver the story to their readers, listeners or viewers. As a result, you have to be flexible with your availability.
If the media you’re communicating with work outside of normal business hours, offer your cell phone number and check your email often. I’ve had media representatives text me with questions and they’ve really appreciated the ease of getting in contact with me. Remember, you don’t want to give media reason to walk away before they’ve even had a chance to hear the pitch.
Another aspect of timing is the clients’ tight schedules, especially if they are traveling. It’s common to have only short periods of time to talk with the client so it’s important to simplify and prioritize.
As a result, the media’s expectations also have to be managed. When working on Dralion, I was upfront with the media if I needed a day or two to get back to them – I also always responded to every email and phone call immediately, even if to say I received their message and I would get an answer for them. The media members appreciated my honesty and were often willing to work with me.
With a busy schedule also comes last-minute changes. They’re bound to happen and you should be prepared for them. Always have a backup alternative.
And that brings us to the pitch. In a perfect world, a project has multiple angles. These angles may be inherent or you may need to work with the client to peel back the layers. For entertainment pitches, the possibilities could range from the musicians to costumes, from makeup to physical fitness. Ultimately, it’s important to keep an open mind in how the media can cover an opportunity.
Although media may have their own ideas, it’s crucial to have alternatives ready in case they turn down the opportunity at first. Media members also appreciate a collaborative discussion to make their job easier. This will also show you’re targeting them for a specific reason.
Working with local media, for example, requires constant awareness of why the community should care. The same is true for national events or performances. The name may not be enough. Whether it’s the musician or traveling custodian, working with the client to find a local connection may make a difference in getting the hit.
Have endurance to win this race
Depending on the length of the project, a lot of media relations opportunities require endurance as they could span weeks, months or more.
Not only should you make an effort to maintain enthusiasm for the project, but you should also continue to research and learn new information and concepts that will help outreach efforts.
If the project is long term, accurate tracking and monitoring is extremely important. I like to have a process in place to track conversations with the media, remind me when to follow up and when to monitor for coverage. Establish a plan that works for you and helps keep you on target.
Understand the nature of media outcomes
We all want a mountain of articles, broadcast segments and radio spots as a result of our efforts, right? We also want them as soon as possible.
We can wish for this all day long, but media coverage doesn’t always come through immediately, especially from long-lead publications. With that being said, if the client wants media coverage as soon as possible, start early.
For me, it’s much easier to prioritize outreach to the monthly and quarterly publications first because they work much more in advance. During that process, find out when their deadline is if the event occurring during a particular month.
Additionally, it can be a challenge to obtain definite publication dates for secured opportunities from the media. Whether editorial calendars change at the last minute or the decision is up to a higher power, you have to manage the expectations of your clients.
This could also affect advertising if it is part of the campaign. While it may be ideal to run an ad alongside an article, it could be more beneficial to stagger these items to gain long-term exposure.
While these are just a few valuable lessons from my adventure with Cirque du Soleil, I know that this experience will be a strong asset to future initiatives. If you have any tips from working within the entertainment industry, leave a comment below!
About the author::
Aside from serving as the resident grammar expert, Noelle Pennyman is part of the Public Relations team. She likes to spend her time keeping up with pop culture, cooking her way through every recipe and searching for the perfect amaretto sour.
TAGS: thundertech, public relations, pr, thunder tech, media relations, Media, dralion, cirque, national, campaign, Cleveland, entertainment, best practice, lessons, tips
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