By Lucy Hancock, Divisional Director at Storm Communications
Media relations have become more digital than ever before. In the most part, there are slick and easy solutions, whether it is a switch to sending product samples to contacts’ home addresses or an increased focus on delivering media pitches via email. But for the moment, valuable in-person time with journalists, via face to face meetings or media events, is off the cards. So how can PRs take media relations beyond email pitching and press releases?
For most of us, daily video calls on Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts, have become the norm. And increasingly we’re seeing this translate through to brand events, both for consumers as well as for media and influencers. Aside from the current restrictions which mean in-person events are a no-go, there are some considerations that make virtual media events a seriously attractive proposition to PRs and brands alike.
For starters, virtual events remove many of the limitations of a bricks-and-mortar event. Typically, marketeers have held media events in central London locations, designed to be close to a number of the capital’s media houses. However, we’re now increasingly seeing big publishers move their offices out of London to keep costs down, making it harder than ever to find a one-size-fits-all destination that’s easy for a mix of media titles to attend. Instead, hosting a media event virtually means that publishing houses based in Essex or even Scotland can attend just as easily. Aside from this, while various influencers are based in London they have always been much more evenly spread across the length and breadth of the UK, giving virtual media events the huge benefit of allowing a much more regionally inclusive influencer guest-list.
Beyond this, removing the budget-implications of a physical location means events all of a sudden become much more cost-effective to run. Something that’s no doubt appealing to brands across the board but also it excitingly opens up an opportunity for smaller brands with tighter budgets to take advantage of media events without breaking the bank.
We all know the old adage that content is king but this really becomes the crux of a well set up virtual media event. An on-brand host who will provide good appeal to guests is a must, and the content of the event itself – whether that’s a cook-along or a Q&A with a nutritional expert – must be relevant, topical, new and interesting enough to encourage media to clear 45 minutes to an hour of their day to dial in.
Storm recently ran a virtual media event for California-based vegan food producer Follow Your Heart in tangent with influencer work, securing a campaign reach of 1 million to a targeted plant-based foodie audience. Hosted by one half of the popular So Vegan Instagram channel, Roxy Pope, the event saw a mix of media and influencers tune in to learn how to make an easy and delicious chickpea ‘tuna’ melt recipe featuring Follow Your Heart’s Smoked Gouda Slices, Mature Cheddar Slices and Original Vegenaise.
The impressive results delivered certainly demonstrate that in this new era of work from home culture, virtual media events are a tactic to rival the traditional version and look likely to stay no matter what the ‘new normal’ looks like when we all get back to our offices in the months to come.