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How does good press happen? News hits, PR musings

I’m often asked to get press for different events going on at RIT. It may sound relatively straightforward, but given the many things happening in the Rochester region and the small staffs working at local stations and newspapers, it’s often extremely difficult to get people to cover your event instead of something else. It’s particularly challenging if that something else is a tad more exciting than your average academic conference. If the Mayor of Rochester decides to hold a major press conference at the same time as RIT’s event, guess which one gets covered? Therefore, to get press you need a hook and a lot of luck!

For example, last week RIT hosted a workshop by New Energy New York’s Fuel Cell Network at RIT’s Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies. The event featured fuel cell experts and businesses from throughout the state and was focused on enhancing technology commercialization and industry expansion.

I thought it sounded like something the press would be interested in, but I was still very wary given all the other stories that were going on that day, including the fast ferry issue and announcements surrounding the Monroe County budget. So, I only contacted certain reporters I was sure would be interested and focused on the connection between the event and Rochester’s burgeoning alternative-energy industry, which has been a hot topic. The strategy worked—we ended up with four affiliates coming to cover the event. While that is not huge, it isn’t bad considering the subject matter and the other events happening that day.

As Bob Finnerty always says, don’t invite every reporter to everything or they’ll be less likely to come to the event you really want them to attend. The trick is to focus on those outlets that will most likely care about your topic and pray that nothing really big happens at the same time. Of course that’s where the luck comes in. But, as I have said before, it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good!


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