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The Difference Between a Media Alert and a Press Release

The Difference Between a Media Alert and a Press Release

How to use a Media Alert for event promotion

Communications consultants and PR professionals help clients gain exposure and promote events through strategic deployment of media outreach tools including the old standbys: the press release and the Media Alert.

Media Alerts are particularly effective for garnering press for events.  This includes securing pre-event press coverage that helps to increase interest in and awareness of an event.  Issuing a Media Alert prior to an event can help a business or organization see conversions like ticket sales and event registrations.

In addition to pre-event coverage, a Media Alert, more so than a press release, stimulates media attendance at your event.  This leads to a bigger press victory for you and your business because it sets the stage for event coverage.  It means that your event – and by extension,   your business – gets exposure that reaches an audience beyond event attendees.

Announcement coverage, event coverage and follow-up coverage benefit the journalists and media outlets that cover your event because they are able to tell a more complete story from event announcement through follow-up.  Any time that you are able to help journalists create quality content for their audience in a way that also delivers accurate, positive information about your company and the work you do, you are optimizing media relations for your communications and marketing goals.

Understanding how and when to deploy a Media Alert as an outreach tool is the first step in using it to your advantage.  The second step is to learn how to write a proper Media Alert so that it works the way you need it to work for your business.

Media Alert vs. Press Release

While the fundamental pieces of a press release and a media alert are the same (answers to the who, what when, where, why questions), the press release leaves room for lengthier quotes, concepts, and context.  The Media Alert is structured more like an invitation.  It gives the facts, listed clearly, without interpretation or introduction.  It tells busy readers, namely members of the media, who need to make quick decisions, where your event is, what is happening, and, the question everyone really wants to know, who will be there.

When you are choosing whether to send a Media Alert or press release, and more importantly, when to send a Media Alert rather than a press release (a comprehensive communications strategy for an event should include at least one of each) think about how the Media Alert is going to be used by your reader.  An editor will skim a Media Alert looking for newsworthy names, topics or locations, then pass it along as an assignment to the reporter who will attend you event.  Write your Media Alert with this in mind: it is basically an assignment memo.

The Anatomy of a Media Alert

Your Media Alert needs to include the most important information about your event within a recognized, easy-to-read format.  Like a press release, a Media Alert includes contact information, a compelling title and a relevant subtitle.  Unlike a press release, it is extremely light on narrative, focusing on listing details so they are easy to find quickly, so that decisions can be made about your event immediately.






WHO: Your business/organization and key attendees/participants.

WHAT: Brief description of your event

WHEN: Event date and time

WHERE: Address of event location Hint: It’s a great idea to provide public transit or basic highway/driving directions here, similar to what you might find on the website of the event location.  Remember, anything that makes it easy for someone to get where you want them to go helps you.

PRICE: This is for publication purposes.  Do not expect, or request, members of the media to pay for tickets to your event.

MORE: Include only if absolutely necessary.  Remember, the Media Alert is not a tool for persuasion, it is a bare bones information tool that is compelling because your event is interesting and worth attending, not because you are crafting a narrative around it.

ABOUT Remember to add your standard identity paragraph that appears at the end of all of your press releases.  If your company’s About Paragraph is on the longer side, try to edit it here so it includes only the most important information and does not exceed a few short sentences.

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As with all communications and PR outreach tools, the written pieces that you draft need to be clear, consistent and in keeping with your message and overall communication strategy.  Distribute Media Alerts to your well researched press list and be sure to have an informed press contact, whether in-house or independent, ready to answer questions and manage follow-ups immediately and professionally.

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by Elizabeth Eames // Owner of Brooklyn, New York-based Contemporary Communications Consulting, a full service communications and marketing firm established in 2007. Over 10 years experience in content writing, editing, communications strategy, media relations, training and presentations.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.