We all know that hosting a PR event is risky and expensive. A myriad of factors can effect attendance but if done correctly an event can be very successful. Planning is critical therefore, how do you reduce the risk and get the very best out of it?
Top 10 Tips
1. Agree an objective – what is it that you want to achieve? It could be anything from staff morale to gaining awareness for a new product. Whatever it is the objective will dictate your approach. Be clear on what you want and mould everything around that objective. That includes everything from the venue to the invites. Keep nothing in mind but that objective.
2. PR Event Date – Your event date is critical. Ask yourself why would someone want to come and what could stop them? It is important that any date proposed does not clash with anything else. Consider other business events, seasonal/sport dates even TV shows.
3. Cost to Attend – There is no getting away from the fact that it costs your guests to attend. Busy professionals often cannot afford time out of the office so early mornings or evenings may suit better. If you choose lunch time in a busy city centre like Cambridge keep it short and consider the parking.
4. What’s in it for them? – This is an obvious one but you need to be honest and realistic. Your event must contain something significantly interesting enough to make your target block out time in their diary. What will they get out of it? The opportunity to trial a new product, rub shoulders with a celebrity etc.? Think about your hook and then make sure it is communicated within all elements.
5. Timing – Timing as they say is everything. At least 6 weeks before the event send out a save the date card. Keep in touch running up to the event, don’t let your target forget it is happening. Send them travel and parking information, details on speakers etc. Maintain momentum in all respects
6. Keep it personal – No round robin emails, make sure your invites are personalised and you have the correct name spelling and job titles. Only the most confidant of people are comfortable to walk into a room of strangers and start a conversation. It is therefore a good idea to position staff at doorways to greet your guests. Give them a list of who else is attending and hand out name badges. Foster introductions as appropriate and consider colour coding the badges. This can help all parties differentiate groups of people or interests etc.
7. Keep the message on track – It is critical that everyone from waitresses to CEO’s understand your PR message and objectives. Make sure that they know the guest list and identify primary targets. It is good practice to allocate staff members to key individuals, make sure staff know what is expected of them.
8. Media Invites – Send invites to the relevant media and encourage their attendance. They won’t all come but they certainly won’t if you don’t ask. Tempt them with snippets of information from the speakers or presentations.
9. Get Social – Most people utilise a number of social media platforms these days. These provide perfect opportunities to communicate pre and post event information to a much wider audience. Why don’t you consider tweeting during the event for example? Live web casts can also be considered. Live and breathe public relations, never miss an opportunity.
10. Follow up and follow up – A personal thank you is essential, make sure that all parties receive a follow up. Send copies of slides and send links to related blogs and media coverage etc. Make sure to include all the no shows and update your PR database with all details.
Above all else evaluate your performance and the outcome. Discuss your analysis with the client who will be quick to tell you if they found it successful. The reality is it could be a long time before the overall results are known but hang on to one fact – the harder you work the luckier you will get!