Have press events had their day?

One question that construction and manufacturing companies are asking at the moment now the lockdown is over is should we hold a press event?  A press event is when a company opens its doors to journalists, inviting them in to view a new development, innovation, new premises or investment.

At Dragonfly PR we have been managing press events of this type for over 20 years, mainly in the construction and manufacturing industries.  However, in recent years journalists have let us know that they are finding it increasingly difficult to attend events in person.  This can be for a variety of reasons – in many cases, due to staff shortages and often  they are editing more than one magazine and e-newsletters and daily news on the website too.  For them to take a whole day out of the office at a press event puts the rest of the team under real pressure to cover their role and is a luxury they often can’t afford.

Another factor to consider since the pandemic, increasing numbers of journalists are still working from home and this means it may be less accessible for them to travel to the venue. Since the pandemic there has been a natural reluctance to attend large events and some journalists may still be unwilling to venture out to an event at scale. The same goes for exhibitions – in the past journalists would stay for a full day and often much longer at larger events like Ecobuild or the Homebuilding Show, now there are more likely to pop in for the first couple of hours if there is a press launch or seminars that interest them.

Journalists want instant news, which is available to them through social media, PR agencies and news wires at the touch of a button.  They are therefore less likely to actively go out to seek stories, which unfortunately means less need to go to visit a company or an event.

When manufacturing clients or building products companies are considering whether they should hold a press event, we always ask what they are trying to achieve.  If they are holding a customer event anyway and the press can be invited too, then that is great, but these days we don’t advise clients to put on a specific event just for the media - as it can lead to disappointment.  A better alternative is to set up a webinar, where a live link can be shared and journalists can ‘visit’ the premises/event from the convenience of their own office.

Recently we held a conference with a government Minister attending, alongside several businesses and local dignitaries.  The local, regional and national media were interested, including the FT, the Guardian and all the regional titles, but when it came to the day, a big news story broke, which meant that fewer media attended.  However, we managed to secure live links to the conference whilst it was in progress which we shared with all the media who were interested but couldn’t attend.  We had also sent out pre and post event press releases, so there was plenty of information accessible about the event.  In addition, we set up live and pre-recorded regional TV and radio broadcast media interviews for keynote speakers prior to the event and on the day.  Overall, the summit was a huge success and the level of media coverage achieved far exceeded everyone’s expectations, without the need to have lots of journalists actually attending.

So the next time you consider hosting a press event for a new product launch, business investment or re-brand, it’s worth thinking again.  It’s possible to work smarter and to host the event virtually, giving journalists a virtual tour of the premises or access to the event via web link or to create a showreel of the new premises or innovation.  Journalists don’t mean to let people down but often on the day it can look like that, with so many other commitments and pressures on their time. 

If you would like to discuss PR or digital marketing opportunities for your news stories, products, business growth or investment, then speak to our skilled team with over 20 years’ experience in b2b public relations.  We are an honest, open and friendly team who can guide you through the process of planning a PR or digital marketing campaign email hello@dragonflypr.co.uk or call 0114 349 5341.

Dragonfly PR is a Sheffield-based PR and digital marketing agency that specialises in media relations, content marketing and organic SEO for construction and manufacturing companies.

Call us on: 0114 349 5341