Being in the PR & Corporate communications business for many years now, I have had opportunities to go through numerous new business pitches and PR Plans drafted by many PR pros from various PR agencies. One of the tool suggested by them in their pitches/plans (even I have done it several times) to drive media coverage is to organize an event. Some of the favourite events suggested were either instituting an award, organizing a round table, conduct a survey, organizing a marathon etc. Same suggestions used to repeat in almost every new pitch. I am not saying recommending an event to increase client visibility is a wrong suggestion but before we make a suggestion I suggest it would be a good idea to thoroughly understand the pros and cons of the suggested event, with respect to the client’s business and the industry he operates in, else it will just remain one amongst the long laundry list suggested to clients time and again.
From a public relations perspective, the reason an organization hosts an event is to promote an idea, a cause, or a project that is important to the organization and its publics. Events should not be done just for the sake of doing them. Events, like any other public relations technique, should be used to achieve a specific public relations purpose. That means having a specific target audience in mind before the event planning starts and forcefully delivering a clear and unique message to that audience with the event.
Here are some of the pointers that can help you evaluate the success of the event, before you suggest your clients
- Does it make sense to client’s business: Events need to be in line with the organization’s business goals & objectives. The event must match the company’s values and business priorities.
- Develop a PR plan around the event. Outline the strategies and channels for communications, key messages to convey to the various target audiences, and a schedule of deliverables, deadlines and responsibilities. The PR plan should include several channels, including media outreach, social media, e-mail marketing, and web site updates.
- Know your target audience. Identify the press most likely to attend and cover the event, and pitch appropriately. Include relevant media such as city, lifestyle, business, entertainment etc. Remember to hire a photographer & a videographer, if the event warrants one. Television and radio outlets should be contacted early on the day of the event again, as assignments are prioritized and determined early in the day. Also, don’t forget to post event details to the calendars of publications and websites. Most are free calendar listings.
- The Execution: Before you decide to taking the execution of the event on your shoulders, think through carefully like an event management company or better still insist on a services of an event management company or an experiential marketing company, who specialize in creating and executing special events
- The purpose of the PR surrounding the events is the same: to generate interest and to interact with the public. This means that your PR efforts need to be targeted, clear, and newsworthy.
- Include Social Media: make use of social media to create pre event awareness, live coverage of the event on Twitter or other networks and post event coverage as well. This will give a wider reach and raise the awareness of the event.
Today, there are many experiential marketing firms doing robust business, they have become a big business in its own right as a result, special events are no longer limited to being occasional tools used by public relations people to achieve broad public relations purposes; many are now seen as ends in themselves and are conducted on an incredibly grand scale. Meet few of these agencies and understand what kind of events they have been doing and what they can do for your clients.
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