Kursha Woodgate provides some tips to enable you to get started on your own PR programme for your event. Here are her thoughts.
People that organise business events are undoubtedly creatures of many talents, able to juggle multiple projects and schedules to orchestrate the impossible and pull off fantastic events through expertise and hard work.
But many, overlook the power of PR as a cost-effective marketing tool, preferring often to stick to more traditional marketing tactics and in recent years relying heavily on email databases to ‘e-blast’ our way into generating registrations.
It doesn’t always take a PR professional to get great results for event PR, so here are a few top tips to help you get started on your own event PR programme.
Build a Pipeline
Right at the start when you are planning the venue and discussing programme content, take a little time to work out what news announcements you will have in the run up to the event, during and after.
It might be a new theme for the event, a new title sponsor, unusual venue or unveiling new research in a particular sector. Whatever news you might have, make PR part of your planned marketing activity, not just an after thought.
Comment on Features
Don’t just think about what news you have about the event itself, look at any planned features your target magazines will be writing (remember to look well in advance for monthly print publications) that you may be able to comment on or contribute an interesting angle.
Commenting on industry news is also a great way of getting coverage, either through traditional letters to the editor or posting online comments.
Work with media partners to identify what material would work well in their publications and develop an agreed schedule of stories.
Talk to your key sponsors about any news angles you can leverage there, especially if they are big names, and make sure you identify any ‘internal’ PR opportunities with them, perhaps a presence in their newsletter or intranet site.
Keynotes and Line-Up
Big names are always a great way of getting good coverage – the higher the profile, the better the exposure! This doesn’t always have to be celebrities or household names, big names in a particular sector will also pull in the crowds and their participation in your programme should create opportunities for news stories.
Don’t forget to use pictures – a picture speaks a thousand words! Good quality images of big names will really help editors to make their publications visually appealing and give you a better chance of good coverage.
Spend a little time with the client or your organising team brainstorming angles that might be of interest to media. It might be a PR ‘stunt’ (the likes of Richard Branson parachuting in!), partnering with a CSR initiative, supporting a local charity or creating a bespoke piece of research that will be sure to interest media.
The point is to think beyond the event itself, leveraging other campaigns that create interesting stories whilst giving you the opportunity to mention the event and keep in the public eye.
Keep it Current
The media, whether trade or consumer, are always interested in the latest news and topical issues and you can use that to create opportunities to comment.
If there is a big event just about to happen, such as the Olympics or an election, think about whether there is anything related to your event that gives you an angle for a story.
Many years ago when I first started in PR, I got a full page in The Guardian for a small software client on the back of some national security breaches that had just been in the media, so it’s always worth a shot!
In short, think ahead in terms of news stories and generating a PR pipeline using some of the techniques outlined above. This will give you an ongoing, drip-feed of news to raise the profile of your event and help bring delegates through the doors and sponsors signing on the dotted line.
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