What makes a good press event? Chipps, Woodhouse and Woodman discuss

Does such a recipe exist for the perfect press event? Often battling deadlines and with stretched resources, it’s not always easy for journalists to cover everything; but what increases your brand’s chances of getting column inches? CI.N asks our panel of press:

For the benefit of organisers, PRs etc, what factors weigh on the decision as to whether you’ll attend an event? 

Jon Woodhouse, Off-Road.cc

We’re limited in terms of staff and time to send for a launch; especially one that’s abroad and where travel time is a huge factor. Really we must guarantee payback in terms of traffic.

The size of the brand is obviously important as a big-name brand launching a big new product will generate much more traffic. That’s why we really need to know what we’re going to be seeing before we go, ideally with a detailed schedule of what we’ll see, who we’ll have access to – brand managers, engineers, athletes and so on – plus details of any embargo up front.

If there’s a way we can get more than a single story out of the trip, then that’s much better too, which is where access to engineers and so forth can really help

There’s nothing worse than attending a launch only to find out the thing that’s being ‘launched’ is already old news, or that the embargo is in three months’ time. That said, having an embargo the day after the launch – when everyone that attended the trip will probably be travelling home – is almost as bad as one that’s ages away.

Another factor is whether the brand has supported us in the past with advertising. Whether they have or not is a factor in whether we want to send someone along as attending an event has a significant cost to us, both in time and money. We’re more likely to consider it worth our while if there’s an existing commercial relationship – though I’d like to stress that the actual content of our editorial coverage is totally independent. You can be a big advertiser and we’ll happily turn up to the launch of a new product, but if it’s no good, we’re going to say that it’s no good to our readers.

Chipps Chippendale, Singletrack
Timing. As a print magazine, we have regular weeks where it’s all hands on deck, so getting someone free to go on a launch takes planning. Which is why I appreciate when people send us a ‘Save the date’ notification. I don’t need to know what it’s for, but I need to know when it is to see who might be available to go along. In addition, there are events, shows and other goings on that we need to be at, so it can be tough to spread ourselves between that lot.

Oliver Woodman, Bikeradar.com
The biggest factor for us would be the potential traffic from any news stories we could source from the show. We have a really good understanding of what our readers want to see – the brands they want to read about, the type of products they get excited about and the trends they love (and hate) to talk about.

If we know something big is going to launch at a press event, or be on display for the first time, then it’s normally easy to justify being there.

From a press perspective, what is the most natural environment in which to get the content you seek?

Jon Woodhouse, Off-Road.cc
To be honest, getting product sent to us ahead of the embargo or public launch allows us to do a very thorough job of reviewing it on trails we’re familiar with. It allows us to get unique photo and video content so what we write doesn’t look and sound just like everyone else’s. This is an issue with some product launches where you’ll all have lined up for the same action photo at the same spot, often wearing the same things.

Having new kit in our hands at the office or our local trails is less time consuming and more efficient for everyone involved, orders of magnitude cheaper for brands and also for us. It’s a win-win.

Chipps Chippendale, Singletrack
It always depends on the product and the timing. If we’ve got a month until the new product launches, then we’d prefer to get it in to the office to try on our own trails. We have all the camera/video gear on hand and know all the good photo spots. If timing is tight, then, (while a foreign trip is always fun) it can be a long way to go in order to see a powerpoint and get two hours of riding on loose, dry, blind trails on a bike we’ve only just got on that morning. It can be almost impossible to get more than just a first-look impression on it. Given that sometimes the embargo lifts a couple of days after the presentation, it often needs to be written up on the plane home.

Oliver Woodman, Bikeradar
It’s always a great feeling to catch a scoop by using our instincts as journalists, be that at a show environment or through contacts we have in the industry. Saying that, much of the news we come across now lands in our inboxes and is often controlled with embargoes. Even if a story has come to us in this way, we always make sure that our copy is original and contains insight readers won’t find elsewhere. Whenever possible we shoot our own images.

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