» Wedding PR: The Art of Managing Press Expectations

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

Between print deadlines and calls for submissions, it can seem tough to navigate the waters of media relationships. It’s exciting to begin a press campaign for your company but with that, it’s imperative to understand press expectations so you can best determine if your efforts are successful.

Below, you’ll find our top things to keep you mind (and keep you going!) when managing press expectations as you represent yourself:

Patience is a virtue

PR takes time – it’s not a one-time overnight fix; it’s a continuous process. While it may be tempting to shoot out emails to every media outlet you think of, the best approach is a carefully calculated one. Take your time to properly research the media outlets that best fit your brand and create a media list based on your findings. From there, you can craft up a pitch to send along that shows how you can be of value to each outlet. With that said, keep in mind that not every pitch will get picked up but if you offer yourself as a resource and successfully engage with the editors, you can still consider that a job well done.

Print vs. Online

With the wealth of online media outlets and blogs that are available to us, it can be easy to overlook the value in a print feature. While it may not be your primary target, magazine placements can speak volumes about your company. When it comes to print, however, the pitching process tends to be quite different than that of online press. When we submit our features to an online source, we expect to hear back within several weeks and, if picked up, we expect to see it within a few weeks. Many magazines, on the other hand, are published quarterly, bi-annually, or even annually and come with strict deadlines, meaning you may need to hold on to that gorgeous wedding or shoot if you don’t pitch by the deadline.

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» Wedding PR: Developing Your Speaking Platform

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA

If you’re looking to expand your public relations efforts, professional speaking can be the perfect solution to increasing brand recognition and solidifying yourself as an industry leader. Oftentimes, people get excited and jump headfirst into pitching themselves; however, this can be a mistake if you haven’t put together a strategy ahead of time.

One major piece of your speaking strategy is your platform – it is essential to creating and fine-tuning your topics ahead of the actual pitching process. Ideally, your speaking platform will consist of three or four topics that you are comfortable speaking for at least 45 minutes, but even up to one and a half hours.

meghan-blog-imageSo, what topics should you cover? Good question.

First and foremost, dig deep and ask yourself what subjects you’re equally passionate about and well versed in. If you were standing in a room full of industry peers, would you be comfortable answering everything and anything about your chosen topic? Sit down and map out every topic you can think of, but don’t be too broad. Nobody wants to hear something just about wedding planning – you have to get specific with it. Expect to have a pretty overwhelming list (you do know a lot!), but don’t worry because you’ll be narrowing it down later.

Then, it’s time for research! Look at the places that you want to pitch, whether it’s a local workshop, national conference, association meeting or retreat. Review the speakers who are already booked and what kinds of topics they are covering. Your goal is to offer subject matters that are complementary to what is already there but still offer a unique perspective.

Once you’ve narrowed your topics down to the three or four best options, it’s time to put together your three main components for pitching – a catchy title, a brief description and three or four strong takeaways. Your title should be interesting without being two cutesy, with the description explaining what your speech is all about. Keep it simple at about 75 words or less. As for the takeaways, they should include actionable items that attendees will learn and walk away from your presentation with. Don’t be too anxious about expanding too much in your pitch – you’ll have much more space in your presentation to dive in deep!

As always, test the waters when pitching. If you’re finding that you’re not getting responses, it may be time to pivot your subjects. Topics are meant to evolve. For example, if you’re focusing on technology or social media, you should expect that your content would evolve quite a bit.

Create a marketing piece, like a one-pager, that really showcases you and your topics. As you’re submitting and waiting to hear back, it never hurts to take those topics and write guest articles or blog posts about them. Making efforts to project one’s self as an industry expert can be the difference in a winning pitch!

» The Modern Media Pitch

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Gone are the days when media pitches are strictly limited to blasting out the same press release to your email list of reporters. Many people are missing out on opportunities to get their name out there, simply because they think that a pitch has to be about their company and they may not always have news to share.

Sure, there is plenty of company news that is worth the pitch – anything that is timely, relevant and interesting is generally well received. However, there are plenty of other ways to get press without forcing not-so-newsworthy news into editors’ inboxes.

The Modern Media PitchCreate an effective media list

First and foremost, you’ll need to determine the best media outlets that fit your brand and your niche. Of those outlets, it’s important to find the right contacts and gather their info. This may be a bit of a task upfront, as it could require some good old-fashioned Google searching and social media stalking, but it’s well worth having the right contacts on file. There are also a number of programs to introduce you to new contacts, like HARO, SourceBottle and Babbler. Once you have your list, keep them organized in a spreadsheet that is easily accessible and simple to use.

Developing the pitch

A pitch is simply a story idea, so put your thinking cap on and get creative. In our office, we have a weekly meeting to review what’s in the news regarding weddings to get an idea of what’s buzzing around. From there, we look at each major news story and how we can turn it into a softer story angle and develop pitches out of those ideas. We’re also lucky enough to have a recent bride on our team, so if you have a newlywed, don’t be afraid to dig into their experience! You can also keep an eye out on your own weddings to see if there are any stories brewing that would make for a good pitch.

Sending out the pitch

Once you know who you’re pitching and what you’re pitching, it’s time to write it up. Always address the contact by their first name when possible and be professional throughout the email. Keep it short and simple, while still getting to the point you want to cover – editors are notoriously slammed with deadlines, pitches and other work, so you want to get your message across without taking up too much of their time. Offer yourself as a resource for further questions and thank them for their consideration.

Don’t fret if your pitch isn’t picked up. You’ve made a valuable media connection, which is worth its weight in gold in the PR world. Now, on to your next pitch…

» Infographic: How to Reach Industry Expert Status

Are you looking for ways to take your business to new heights and reach industry expert status? Building your reputation as an industry expert will help you stand out from the competition and increase the value of your personal brand.

This infographic shares top tips from our September webinar for premium members hosted by WeddingWire Education Expert Meghan Ely, and reveals the key factors for leveraging your talents to become an industry expert and gain brand awareness for your wedding business. To learn more, watch the full webinar here!

Sept_Webinar_Infographic_TakeYourBusinesstoNewHeights

Want more great education? Sign up for upcoming webinars here!

» Wedding PR: Hiring Outside Help

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Over the years, we’ve shared tips and tricks on WeddingWire about how to be your own wedding publicist, but for some, there may come a point when it’s time to consider hiring an outside firm.

Hiring a wedding PR firmSo how do you know when it’s time to take the leap? First, consider what strategies are resulting in the biggest ROI. If you’re finding that real wedding features have served you well in the past, and that you may benefit from bringing someone in who can take things up a notch.

Additionally, take a good hard look at how you’re spending your time. If you value the role PR plays in your business but know your time is better spent elsewhere (making sales, focusing on the client experience or even simply doing what you love), then a PR consultant may be your solution.

Hiring a wedding PR agency can seem intimidating – especially if it’s one of your first experiences with bringing in a consultant. The very best way to get you started is to ask trusted friends and colleagues for referrals. They’ll be upfront with you about the benefits as well as the challenges. Don’t have anyone within your inner circle with this experience? If you belong to any industry groups (off or online), consider putting out feelers with them.

And what sort of things should you look for when qualifying candidates?

Their Portfolio

A PR company’s press portfolio (both their clients and their own) is one of the most important components to review. This will lend insight into their current media relationships as well as the type of press they specialize in, whether it be online, print or on the air. Make sure to ask for their most current press to see what’s kept them busy in the last 6-12 months.

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» Getting Press: Inspiration Shoots

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re stuck in a proverbial wedding rut. The realization tends to hit once you’ve put the finishing touches on what appears to be your five thousandth wedding featuring mason jars.

Inspiration shoots are a great way to combat this, giving you a chance to flex your creative muscle during down time while adding depth to your design portfolio. Given the tremendous amount of work that goes into an inspiration shoot, it’s common to want to submit yours to a potential blog or magazine for further exposure. The issue? It can often be as challenging as convincing that couple they need to off the mason jar addiction!

Regardless of your service category, setting up an inspiration shoot to showcase your business, share your personality and stay creative is a great way to gain positive business exposure and remind you why you love the industry! Consider working with other Pros if relevant to your service to work together to create a special shoot that will generate some positive PR!

Here are some tips to get started:

Do your research. Take the time prior to the shoot to do your due diligence. Comb a slew of wedding media outlets to first see if they even accept inspiration shoots. From there, identify the type of content that tends to get picked up by your favorite Editors and then dig deeper to find a theme that is both fresh and exciting. In other words? Lay off the chevron and aim for something a bit more novel.

Set your expectations accordingly. If you’ve already completed your research, then your expectations should already be in check as you proceed with the big shoot. As you begin to assemble your inspiration shoot team, it’s important to share your intentions for submitting while also making it clear that you cannot guarantee a press pickup. At the end of the day, there are a million and one variables that can affect the outcome and if a team member comes into the shoot expecting a several page magazine feature, they may be in for a major disappointment if it doesn’t come to fruition.

Keep the lines of communication open with your team. Each member of the inspiration shoot will more than likely be donating their time gratis so if you have intentions of submitting, do so in a swift manner so that the vendors can be free to use the images for their portfolio in a timely manner.   Should the shoot be picked up (hurrah!), then it’s in your best interest to inform the team quickly. Not only will they enjoy seeing the rewards of their hard work, they can be instrumental in promoting the feature.

And finally, remind yourself that a potential press mention is only one of the many benefits of a successful inspiration shoot. The opportunity to collaborate with new talent, as well as to add fresh inspiration to your portfolio can be equally rewarding.

So toss aside those mason jars, and consider making a date with some of your favorite wedding Pros for an inspiration shoot that will knock your client’s socks off!

» Getting Press: Not the Photographer?

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Oftentimes, we see that real wedding features have been submitted by the wedding photographer but the fact is, there are other types of wedding professionals who can benefit from press! Even if you are not the event photographer, you can still share your work and expertise through submissions!

The key to a solid submission, however, is a selection of swoon worthy, detail driven shots which still makes the wedding photographer the proverbial gatekeeper.  So how do you submit a wedding from start to finish with the help of your wedding photographer?

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started:

Approach them in advance: If you have a particularly good handle on the overall look of an upcoming wedding, contact the wedding photographer ahead of time to let them know you have an interest in submitting. Gauge their interest and if he or she is open to it. Share some of the types of images that tend to make a submission particularly competitive and work together to get the shots you envision.

Step in their shoes for the moment: Before you begin asking for a plethora of images, remind yourself just how busy it is for you as a wedding professional. Keep in mind that a photographer will not only be balancing the demands of their clients, but also setting aside ample time for editing images.  A two week turnaround time for images immediately following a wedding is simply not realistic. Now is the time to exert a bit of patience and remember that it’s not always easy to meet everyone’s requests all at once.

Make it easy for them to work with you: In addition to having appropriate expectations, be sure you are doing everything possible to keep things easy for all those involved. The file sizes for images tend to be large so familiarize yourself with applications and programs (such as DropBox and YouSendIt), which may serve as a solution for how the photographer sends you photos.  Make it a point to collect all remaining information for the submission, manage sending it in, and be sure to keep them abreast of any media pickups. They’re far more likely to work with you again if you do!

Give credit where credit is due: Although this seem obvious, it is imperative to make sure that the photographer is always credited for their images. This may be easy to remember with the first real wedding feature but it can be quickly forgotten when you find yourself in a situation in which a handful of images are perhaps pulled for another editorial piece. Make sure you are the advocate for the photographer when they are not in a position to be.Also, recognize the other wedding Pros that you worked with for the event, so everyone gets the credit they deserve for their work.

Say thank you: After all, wedding PR strategies and trends will come and go, but gratitude will never go out of style!

Mutually beneficial relationships with your fellow wedding professionals can be key to the success of one’s wedding business. With great wedding photographers on your team, the same will be true for your wedding PR initiatives.

» Got News? How to Share It

Engaged couples take many things into account when searching for their perfect wedding vendor. An important consideration is the amount of buzz generated around your business. When your business receives an award, when you are mentioned in a local magazine or news article, it is important to share it! Here’s a few ways to generate buzz outside of your website and blog:

Submit a Press Release

A great way to keep audiences up-to-date is writing a press release, which is easier than it sounds. Positive PR can be a great tool in building a positive reputation about your product or services. Press releases should be short in nature, typically around 600 characters or less, and highlight news about your business, whether launching a new product or receiving an award. In addition, you should always include the pertinent details about your business (website, tagline, etc.).

We recommend submitting your press release on WebWire, which distributes press releases to both online readers and media outlets and also helps with Search Engine Inclusion and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For some examples of past WeddingWire press releases, visit the WeddingWire Press Center.

Use Social Media

Posting messages on Facebook and Twitter is another great way to generate positive buzz about your business. Encouraging your Facebook fans to “like” your post will automatically repost it to their Facebook friends, thereby boosting your word of mouth. This also occurs when followers re-tweet your message on Twitter. Not only will potential clients be impressed by your accolades, but you will be helping to improve your SEO by updating your online accounts and generating more links.

Showcase In Person

If you have a physical location where clients can visit, make sure to display any trophies or certificates of these accolades in a prominent area where they are sure to be noticed. Don’t forget to bring these to bridal shows as well!

All of these ways of generating buzz take just a few minutes, but can make a big impact on your business. Beyond updating news on your website and creating a blog post, take the extra time to write a press release, share the news on social media, and display your awards at your shop or bridal shows.