8 tips for hosting a successful PR event

19 Jan 2016

As a lifestyle PR consultant, planning events is a crucial part of my job description!

Hosting a meaningful press event is an excellent way to raise awareness about a client’s brand or service among media, consumers and the public. For PR events, a common goal is to gain word of mouth and garner buzz through media and social media coverage.

A successful event requires detailed planning, smooth coordination, a love of small details and keen organisation skills. From media roundtables and press conferences to product launches and cocktail parties, here are my top tips on making your next PR event a successful one:

Be clear about your goals and objectives
The first question you need to ask yourself is: What is the purpose of the event? It’s important to think clearly about what you want to achieve before the planning starts. Do you have a strong and meaningful message to share? Is it a brand announcement, or a networking gathering? Is it to alert press about a new launch, a rebrand, or to announce research results? Your event needs to be anchored by an important message that has not previously been communicated. This is how it will gain media interest and help create newsworthy stories.

Create a “moment”
Who will speak? Are there celebrities or spokespeople? What’s the photo moment that you want to inspire? There must be an attractive component that give the press a valid reason to attend. Always consider what the wow factor will be at your event, whether it’s a celebrity or influencer, a great speech or a memorable performance. It will make a difference!

Target the right audience
Think carefully about who the audience is. Make a list of who should be invited, why they need to be invited and what message or impression they should leave with. Which channel or publications should be targeted, and are they the right ones? Of course you should aim to target traditional media and invite journalists to your events, but don’t forget about bloggers – they can be very influential too. It’s always worth considering bloggers, KOLs and celebrities who can create a large impact both offline and online.

Consider a good time and location
When selecting a date for your event, do your research. Avoid dates with conflicting events, such as big award ceremonies, industry events, and stay away from public holidays as well as popular vacation times. Avoid Mondays. If you are planning a Friday event, ensure you plan for extra drinks!
The selection of a venue is another key point to consider. Select one that matches the theme of event and is easily accessible by public transport. Alternatively, transportation arrangements need to be considered for distant locations.

Pay attention to detail
Planning any event requires close attention to detail. Everything from invitations, guest lists, catering, lighting and the sound system to decorations, professional emcee, marketing collaterals, souvenirs, courier and security need to be considered – and all kept within budget. Hiring a professional photographer and videographer has become more and more important as journalists require quality images (in high resolution) for their stories, while filming video content from your event can be shared with those who were unable to attended through social media channels.

Be active on social media
The immediacy and accessibility of social media channels are useful tools for sharing the highlights of your event. Create a hashtag for your event, use it in the lead-up, throughout the event or even post-event. Make sure the hashtag is something simple and relevant to the event and brand. Consider inviting fans to participate in an online competition on Facebook or Instagram, as together with hashtags this can often help create more user-generated content and online buzz pre and post-event. Video content created from the event can also be shared on social media platforms to reach a wider audience.

Say thank you
Souvenirs and goodie bags at the end of event are a great way to show appreciation for attendance, and a press kit including an informative press release, relevant bios or images will ensure journalists have all relevant information. After the event, thank your attendees and ask for their feedback. Ensure they’ve received all the information they require and ask if they have additional questions. Be sure to listen to feedback and act on it.

Stay calm and have fun
No matter how much preparation has been done beforehand, always be prepared for the unexpected and any challenges that may arise. Stay calm and be flexible – and always have a backup plan. If the event is held outdoors, say, check the weather conditions and create a contingency plan. As challenging as it is to execute an event, take the time to enjoy it, too, because you deserve it. Think of all the hard work you and your team have invested in putting everything together and take a moment or two to enjoy yourself!

A successful event requires detailed planning, smooth coordination, a love of small details and keen organisation skills.

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