Stories in motion: how to turn your next event into a powerful storytelling tool for your brand

3 Apr 2019

An event always stands as the core of a brand campaign.

Whether a product launch party or a professional conference, events are packed with powerful, tangible hooks that can convey messages about a brand or organisation. These touchpoints can be created visually, orally, or through written communication via various channels throughout the campaign period – that is, before, during or after the event takes place.

When planning an event for your brand, keep in mind the following strategies to ensure your event creates the right kind of impact:

Create a central theme

Some people work on ideas for event content and execution before confirming a theme, but I prefer to work the other way around. A theme or tagline is a key element of any event as it creates a thread between all the moving parts, while giving your target audience an immediate entry point to the event and its objectives. Other elements of the event can then be crafted in line with the theme, such as interactive, on-site activations, a hero display, speeches, delegates who amplify the stories, meaningful souvenirs, and more.

BMW X2 launch in Hong Kong
A central theme or tagline is a powerful tool to bring together all the different elements of your event.

A good event theme communicates a shared value or purpose with the target audience. Most brands focus their content around their brand promise – that is, what a brand commits to deliver – which is more about the company and the product. However, I strongly believe that communicating brand purpose, or what a brand aspires to achieve, is a more effective way to strengthen an audience’s association with a brand. This kind of connection is more engaging because it focuses on people and relationships.

Ensure you remain relevant

If public relations is the art of storytelling, we always need to avoid jumping directly to promotional messages. I believe content that is relevant to your audience is more authentic and persuasive, and therefore stands a better chance of being remembered, picked up and considered.

Research and monitoring are the first steps to identifying what is relevant to your audience. Research helps us understand audience behaviour and needs; monitoring, meanwhile, gives us insight as to their interests, as well as the types of conversations they’re having.

The next step is to create hooks, touchpoints to connect our stories and audience. A hook can be as simple as a current industry trend that can lead a brand story, or as sophisticated as a well-planned survey that provides insights that illustrate why your messages are important and relevant.

Identify the right people to tell your story

A powerful event spokesperson is not only about a certain level of fame, but whether they echo your event’s theme and key messages. Whether they are brand representatives, officiating guests, delegates, or KOLs, your spokesperson’s own stories play a role connecting the dots and making a larger point to demonstrate, and in some cases even personify, the event concept.

Stories in motion: how to turn your next event into a powerful storytelling tool for your brand - CENTRESTAGE 2018
Are the right people helping tell your brand story?

It is important for PRs to set up spokespeople for success from the beginning. Pre-event briefing guidelines, a list of suggested talking points and anticipated questions are effective tools to help guide the conversation.

Present the story innovatively

Another effective way to amplify your brand story at an event is through live experiences leveraging technology, food or art, for example. By stimulating multiple senses simultaneously, brands are not only able to more deeply immerse participants in the experience, but greatly increase the chances that the audience will become emotionally attached to the messages being conveyed.

Stories in motion: how to turn your next event into a powerful storytelling tool for your brand - GREAT Festival of Innovation 2018
Consider harnessing innovation to connect with your audience.

An event with impact will never be limited to only playing a video or decorating the venue with brand colours. Successful events will almost always include creative ways for the audience to forge emotional connections with the brand, such as VR experiences, blind tastings, interactive workshops, and more.

Encourage participants to share your story

A successful event will also incorporate its stories into a memorable experience, and relevant content motivates an engaged audience to respond and share – a winning formula for event content going viral. Creating a sharable content or campaign, such as through #hashtags, social media visuals and stickers for messenger apps can encourage participants to amplify the story and become a micro-influencer for your event.

Stories in motion: how to turn your next event into a powerful storytelling tool for your brand - #ddHK
Is the content at your event something that your audience will want to share?

Brand events are about taking attendees on an emotional or inspirational journey, usually with a sense of purpose, that allows an audience to feel connected to a brand. Storytelling therefore is an essential part of any successful event strategy.

Whether a product launch party or a professional conference, events are packed with powerful, tangible hooks that can convey messages about a brand or organisation.

By Jessica Man
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