There are a lot of reasons to host an event, whether it is to promote a cause, an idea or a project that a company or non-profit organization finds significant, public relations (PR) is a crucial tool that should be considered early on in the planning process. Use PR throughout the event planning process because it can be the difference between a good event and a great event.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) explains that PR is a strategic communication process that builds equally beneficial relationships between an organization and their publics. PR can effectively produce and boost sales and attendance, secure sponsors and advertisers, form excitement, public awareness and encourage media to attend or even cover the event. With strategy, communication and relationship building in mind, make sure your goals and objectives for the event and target audiences build off these three key things before you begin tactical planning.
Before you begin the planning process, develop a PR plan surrounding the event. Put together a strategy for communications and key messages to express to your target audiences. Organize a schedule of things that can be achieved or delivered, create deadlines and distribute responsibilities to those assisting in the planning process. Your PR plan should also consist of numerous channels, such as media outreach, social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn), marketing through e-mail and consistent updates on your company website promoting the event.
Begin your PR outreach as early as possible. When the date and location for the event are secured, this is the time to start building relationships and using communication tactics. The journalists and photographers who attend events are just as busy as you and their schedules fill up fast. Secure both parties early on in advance to avoid trying to find one or the other at the last minute. Beginning early also helps secure people in attendance and sponsorships with a strong lead-time for logistics planning.
Messages should be modified to fit each channel. This means Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn should consist of updates and information regarding your event so your target audiences are aware if there are any drastic or important changes made to the event. Social media is an efficient way to accumulate “likes” or gain new followers by posting promotional flyers before the event that encourage people to attend and spread the word. It is your job to stay connected with your audiences even before the actual event. These social media outlets are also great for posting daily teasers to get customers, friends, stakeholders and followers interested in your event. Sending out mass e-mails can be effective when trying to reach a large audience for a reminder of the event, event specifics and reasons to attend. Media advisories are useful for encouraging press to attend.
Plan your schedule and stick with it. Maintain a schedule that consists of clearly defined roles and responsibilities in order to keep the PR push organized. By generating a status report during the event and a recap about how it went, you will be able to keep track and document your work for future use when planning another event.
Make sure you fully know your target audiences. Pitch your event appropriately to the press who will be going and covering the event by reaching out to local, business and vertical media. Also, consider “party press,” which can help gain publicity towards your event if it highlights high-profile names, celebrities or politicians. Hiring a photographer can be a great way to document the results of the event as well. However, not all events warrant one.
The last thing you should consider when using PR to plan and build buzz around your event is to have a hook and give people a reason to attend. Like most other things in life, your event will have competition and people get busy and have other obligations. So, plan ahead, start early, stay organized and on schedule, build relationships, use social media outlets, know your target audience and have a PR plan.
PR strategies can be the difference between your event turning out the way you planned and impressing and pleasing your audiences.
Spiewak, M. (2012). It’s My Party: The Role of Public Relations in Event Planning. The Society for Marketing Professional Services Boston.
What is Public Relations? PRSA’s Widely Accepted Definition. (2014, Nov. 13). Retrieved from http://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/publicrelationsdefined/#.VGb6_lfF8gN
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