Hosting an event? A huge part of your success depends on promotion. Movements that won the day in the past did so because of something in the news that became popular and influenced public opinion, which then influenced politicians and lawmakers. When we get our stories into the media, we can win.
I worked on a number of political campaigns and events before I noticed a pattern – all of the campaigns and events were completely ignored by the media no matter how much work we put into them. I had a number of public failures of train-wreck proportions before I had my first success, and I think I’ve developed a solid formula that anyone can use to promote their events.
How did I get the media to report on my events?
My biggest successes happened in 2012 when I helped with two events. The first one was featured on RT America all week, on the Drudge Report for a day, and the Daily Caller. Talk show hosts were inundated with callers wanting to talk about it. The second event was watched by enough people that we were trending in the top 10 on Twitter, Jimmy Kimmel made fun of us, Lawrence O’Donnell devoted a segment to supporting us, and most of the Sunday talk shows devoted at least a few minutes to talking about us.
This is from that first event. Recognize the guy introducing me in this video?
So how did I do it? It wasn’t money that got all that promotion, just a little legwork. This is what I suggest:
1 – Involve people in your event that work in the media. Even if they don’t agree with you on every issue, if they agree with you on the issue your event is about, you’re likely to get a response. For example, if you’re holding a rally against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), ask every liberal media personality you can think of from your local mainstream media to speak there. If you’re hosting a conference about gun ownership rights, ask every conservative. If you can’t get anyone to speak, perhaps you can get someone to interview you before or during the event. If you are hosting an event on a topic so controversial that neither a liberal nor conservative would be caught dead supporting it, consider asking one of each to moderate a debate on the issue. (Throw in a Libertarian or a Green for good measure.)
2 – Build a coalition of organizations in support of your event. I’ll bet that there are at least a few organizations in your local area that would be supportive of what you’re doing. It’s just a matter of finding them and picking up the phone. They can help immensely by spreading word of your event to their members and supporters.
3 – Let the media know, even the mainstream media. Don’t just send emails to your local newspaper, television and radio outlets. Weeks before your event happens, start making calls. Work your way down the entire list of local media outlets. Let them know about you and your event and ask them if they would be interested in attending, and if they would be interested in interviewing you beforehand. If you’ve secured a media personality during Step 1, ask local outlets they would be interested in interviewing that person. Don’t stop with phone calls. Persistence counts. During the week leading up to your event, print out a stack of press releases and hand-deliver them to all of those media outlets you’ve called that haven’t committed to being there. Your smiling face and confident handshake might make all the difference.
4 – Find out which media outlets operate in your region. To help you find the outlets and their contact information, try http://www.mondotimes.com/. It’s what I’ve been using, and it’s been a big help.
5 – Build bridges to influential media voices. While I’m no fan of the mainstream media, I’ve found that the people who work for them are a lot like you and me. It’s just a matter of connecting. With luck, we rub off on them a little in a positive way, too. Now go inject a little liberty into the news!
Zak Carter worked as Free and Equal’s communications director in 2012 and helped get Larry King and Thom Hartmann to moderate two “3rd party” presidential debates. Today he works behind the scenes building an independent truth seeking media outlet with http://benswann.com/ and is also working to make those 2012 debates just look like a warm up in 2016 at http://opendebates2016.com/