The media is a great way to promote a party, but the key behind getting coverage is to have something that is news worthy. People in the media world want to have an “angle” that will attract readership. What are some things you can do to make your upcoming party newsworthy? Better yet, what are some ways you can make yourself, as a person and as the figurehead of your night club empire, newsworthy?

Here’s an idea that was recently done by a bar here in Edmonton. They recently threw a party where the featured guest was the Old Spice Guy – you know the black guy from the Old Spice commercials who says “does your man smell like this?” His name is Isaiah Mustafah. Look up his commercials on YouTube. If you haven’t seen them, they are hilarious. Anyways, the deal behind this promotion was that during the party he would be available to mingle with the crowd and to take pictures with people.

This party generated buzz because it was buzz-worthy. Everyone had seen the Old Spice Guy on TV, but now was a real opportunity to meet with him, party for a bit, and also get a picture. That party got into the local newspaper, and was the talk on some radio stations. This created massive word of mouth advertising. People were talking about this party before and after the event, and suffice to say it was a success.

The bar had to pay Isaiah Mustafah to make the appearance, but what they really paid for was the publicity he generated for their bar. That’s thousands and thousands of dollars worth of advertising, all obtained for a very reasonable cost.

This same promotion tactic can and should be utilized for all types of entertainers. Famous DJ’s, musicians, actors, and athletes are all other media worthy topics as long as the people you are bringing in are famous enough for the media to care about.

Another idea is to promote a concept so whacky, so different, that it can’t help but garner media attention. Remember that the media is all about ratings, and people pay attention to interesting things and people. What they don’t like is boring. If you’re pitching the media, you need to remember to make your news interesting so they’ll provide you with coverage. Sometimes that means being a bit offensive, risky, and provocative. I remember reading in the news recently about a proposed ban China had on strippers at funerals. Apparently people were hiring strippers as a means of hyping up the funeral, and that the cultural belief was that the more people saw you off, the better it’d be once you entered the afterlife. The controversy of this weird promotion got the attention of media outlets all over the world and ended up in my local paper. There is no limit to how far you can take this.

The other route you can take towards generating publicity is becoming a celebrity yourself. Paul Vickers, the owner of Penny Lane Entertainment in Calgary, is a perfect example. This is a man who at every opportunity, got onto the covers of newspapers while promoting his bar. He made it known that his bar, Cowboys, was the place where you would go to see the most beautiful women and have the best time. The popularity of his bar created a massive flow of traffic to his location. He then created a district of restaurants and bars all within walking distance each other. Every time a new bar opened, he followed it up with a publicity campaign and was featured in newspapers and on local TV. At one point he even made a reality TV show about one of his bars. All of these acts created tremendous exposure for his chain of restaurants and bars. There are numerous other examples of night club entrepreneurs, who became celebrities in order to promote their businesses.

One word of advice about publicity. No matter what route you choose, whether you hire a publicist or handle the publicity in house, you have to make sure that the media source that covers your story includes a plug where people watching or listening can get more information about your business. If you are promoting a particular party with publicity, have a phone number to call and a website ready for people to visit so you can book them, get them on a guest list, and get their contact information. I have seen some media exposure done without a plug at the end with the info for the night club, and the owners will never have any idea what amount of interest that publicity stunt generated as a result. Don’t get media attention just to ‘build brand’. Sell something.

Another way to generate publicity is to hire a publicist. A publicist is paid member of your team whose job it is to locate media opportunities and find gigs for you. Many times, the publicist is paid on a per-interview, per-article basis, so you can work an arrangement out where you pay only for results. This may cost more, but you may find the rewards well worth the investment they can get you featured on media regularly.

If you want to handle publicity yourself, I would start by getting to know the reporters in the entertainment section of your local newspaper and television stations. Once you have identified the right individual, send a creative direct mail package that introduces yourself, your bar, and then include a press release that talks about the specific type of party you are promoting at the particular time. The media is constantly looking for stories to publish on a continual basis. I have a good friend who does coverage for local sports, who is constantly under pressure from his editor to get good stories. Sometimes he has to take off his reporter hat, and put on his hustler hat so he can really get a good ‘scoop’ – as they say in the newspaper business.

Once you find someone that does a media bit for you, continue to drip on them with more direct mail packages every time you have another promotion. You also want to send them a thank you package after a successful booking. The media does not just come to you. You have to reach out continually to reach them. And don’t get forget about building relationships. Business is ALWAYS about relationships. Sell to the media like you are selling to your customers. They need to be convinced.

Publicity is a powerful tool that can get your business noticed by huge numbers of people in a hurry. The keys to publicity are to promote something newsworthy and/or become a newsworthy character yourself. Then make sure you have a direct response mechanism to measure the response of each publicity stunt. Other than that, the challenge really is staying creative enough over the long term to continually come up with ideas for parties that can garner media attention. This does take time and energy, however the rewards are well worth it.

*** The Preceding is a chapter excerpt from the book – Night Club Marketing Systems – How to Get Customers for Your Bar, by Kevin Tam