It’s not every day that a new Smithsonian opens.
Every major news network followed the story of the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture last month. And, coverage lasted for weeks leading up to the official public open.
On Sept. 14, the Smithsonian hosted a media preview, offering a curated walk-through of the new building. For journalists and bloggers, it was a sage opportunity to view exhibits, talk with museum staff, and try some of the regional food at the museum’s cafe.
Openings like this provide a great opportunity to give your readers a behind-the-scenes look at a high-profile local event. Your coverage brings the experience to your audience.
We sent a couple of PR Newswire’s content specialists to cover the media preview, where they saw a variety of media outlets and personalities in action.
They came back with some great pointers to ensure your event coverage resonates with your followers. Here’s what they learned.
1. Come Well-Equipped
Regardless of what you may want to cover, if you’re not equipped for the task, your story will not deliver. Let’s start with the obvious: Bring a spare battery pack and/or a charger. Bring a second one for good measure. Also, be sure to match your gear with the event. A long press conference may call for larger equipment, such as a video camera, tripod, and microphones. A festival may call for smaller, more portable equipment, including a click-and-shoot camera and handheld audio recorder. If you’re hoping to share your view socially, a camera that can sync photos to your phone will help you live tweet with higher quality images. Similarly, if you’re covering a panel event, make sure to have the names and Twitter handles queued up of the major players.
2. Maximize Your Time
The NMAAHC is huge, and you could spend days covering the entire thing. Likewise, an event this large will require time and preparation. Be strategic. Take record of the preview hours of the event; look up the tentative schedule. The museum’s preview hours lasted from 11am to 5pm, but covering everything was nearly impossible. Decide the angles you wish to cover and remain open to stories that might pop up. Stay focused on topics your audience will love.
3. Identify Unique Perspectives and Angles
What’s the story that only you can tell — the one that would make your coverage of the event unique? We enjoyed the NMAAHC preview day, but it was vastly more interesting to watch the on-site media. For instance, we saw some journalists intrigued by the integration of technology with the visitor experience. We also watched media interviews with a source with a rich background in shaping the history of African-Americans. The point is to tell a different story than that of your peers. Set your own standard.
4. Diversify Your Live Tweets
This is a huge opportunity to engage readers on Twitter. State where you’re going. Ask fellow tweeters questions: What do they think about where you are? Are they following the live coverage? And as it relates to the new Smithsonian: Are they planning a trip to DC soon? Are they planning to visit the museum in the future? Be yourself, and don’t afraid to be witty.
Try these tips on your next field job or event. You’ll find these simple tweaks will go a long way toward boosting productivity, rounding out your story, and engaging audiences.
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Tabresha B. Langham is a Customer Content Specialist with PR Newswire. She also is a social media enthusiast, foodie, and lover of SEC Football (War Eagle!). Follow her at @PRNmedia and @TabreshaL. Darrell Robinson was formerly a Customer Content Specialist at PR Newswire. He specializes in all things social media and SEO. You can see his tweets from the NMAAHC event on @prnAfricanAm.