MEDIA: YOUR “NOT SO SILENT” PARTNER
Media sponsorships are worth their weight in gold. One of the first things you want to do when planning an event is to align yourself with media sponsors.
Ideally, you’ll want to find a media sponsor in television, print, radio and Internet. Some events, especially larger events, may even be able to further divide the categories (i.e., the “print” category may be broken down into segments including newspaper, magazine, etc.) to maximize their exposure to many markets. Media sponsors will typically shy away from large cash deals and go heavier in promotional support. That’s OK. That’s what you want. Use the media sponsorship to generate massive amounts of exposure for your event and for your early sponsors. If you purchase a page of newspaper advertising in a midsized market, it may cost you $15,000 or more. If you’re able to attract that newspaper to become “The Official Print Media Sponsor of XYZ Event,” you’ll get that space at no cost and you’ll probably give them a foursome, some signage at the event, their logo on your promotional materials and ads in your program. Similar deals can be made for spots on radio and TV (including production of the spot), and Internet.
If you are able to land media sponsors in all four of the above categories, you may wind up with $100,000 or more in free advertising, and some cash on top of that. All media outlets do trade or in-kind sponsorship deals with community events. Before spending money on any media purchases, exhaust all possibilities of obtaining sponsorship.
Conduct pre-event promotions to attract media attention. If you have celebrity participants, you should attempt to have them agree to attend a pre-event function such as a pairings party or press conference. Celebrity visits to schools and hospitals are also great ways to draw attention to your event and your organization. If the celebrity is not able to attend a function prior to the event, you may request that the celebrity agree to do a phone-in radio interview with your radio sponsor or an interview with a newspaper reporter by phone.
If there is a large community or sporting event a day or two before your golf event, you may want to invite your celebrity to attend. Make arrangements for VIP treatment for your celebrity and alert the media that the celebrity will be at the event. When the celebrity is interviewed, make sure your event name is mentioned as the reason why the celebrity is in town.
Event day coverage is valuable for your sponsor relations. Media coverage on the day of your event won’t do much for your event, since most or all of your participants will be pre-paid guests at golf and dinner. However, look at event day coverage as the start of your marketing efforts for the next year and tremendous exposure for your cause (net revenue is only one of the many benefits of conducting a golf event).
Remember that your event is one of several on any given day, so you’ll have to come up with some news angle for the media to cover your event. Even media sponsors need to justify to their editorial department to cover an event. Don’t limit yourself to the obvious when trying to attract media coverage on event day.
On the surface, golf is a sporting event, but rarely will your event make the sports pages. Look for the tie-in with the feature, social, family, business or other departments. If you have a president of a bank attending your event, find out why. For example, a prominent figure attending an event for the prevention of drunk driving may have a compelling personal story to tell to the media. That person’s story will shed light on the issue and promote the organization’s role in the community.
Post-event publicity is an added bonus for sponsors and another plug for your cause. If you’ve raised $50,000, let the world know. A press release, a post-event radio interview with an on-air personality who attended the event, or a feature story in a magazine are all great bonuses for event sponsors and valuable exposure for your cause. This exposure gives closure to the event and jump-starts your marketing efforts for future events.
– Invite a radio or television personality to be your Master of Ceremonies. This will almost assure you of receiving pre-event promotional support and event-day coverage. Media outlets love to showcase their on-air talent participating in community activities. You’ll be helping them as much as they are helping you.
– Take a heavyweight advertiser with you to a meeting with a media marketing decision-maker. If you have an auto dealer on your golf committee who spends $200,000 a year in print advertising with the local newspaper, you’ll have great bargaining power with the potential media sponsor if the auto dealer is by your side at the negotiating table.
A.J. Ali is a writer, producer and TV host who has a passion for wellness and a love of golf. During a 30-year career as an event producer and consultant, he raised more than $25 million for charity, mostly through celebrity-driven golf outings. His books include “The True Champion’s 30-Day Challenge,” “Tee to Green: How to Use Golf to Make More Money,” and “Supercharge Your Golf Event!: 18 Steps to a Successful Golf Fundraiser.” He is also the Co-Founder, with his wife Jane, of a wellness and cancer prevention nonprofit called Marathon of Miracles — and the creator of that nonprofit’s “Golf to End Cancer” program which is the leading cancer-related charity in the golf industry – visit http://www.golftoendcancer.org.