One of the first bits of advice you get when you take a public speaking class is this, “Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them.” That’s essentially the exact blueprint for a great PR strategy for events. Whether you are hosting an event or attending one, this three pronged approach can be used to ensure that you meet your goals and get the maximum value out of every event.
Goals – The first thing you want to do is outline your PR goals for the event. Ask yourself two questions. What am I hoping to get out of this event? How will I know if I have been successful? Whether your goals involve getting earned media, increasing awareness, lead generation, all of the above, or something else, defining measurable goals is the first step to executing a successful event.
Opportunities – Once you’ve set your goals, think about what opportunities exist at the event to help you meet them. You might consider speaking opportunities, targeted sponsorships, and evening networking opportunities. (AKA: parties). Industry events are a great time to set up press and analyst briefings as well.
Publicity – Well before the event you should begin publicizing your participation through as many channels as possible. Depending on the nature of the event, a pre-event press release might be in order. Of course social promotion is important. In addition to posting about your attendance, it is also a good idea to post other content (blogs, shared articles, etc.) that is relevant to the event topic or theme. If the event has a hashtag, use it. If not, give it one.
News – An event is a great time to make a product release or other important announcement. If it is a large event, use special care to make sure that your news will get noticed. You might release your news ahead of time under embargo, or offer a particular journalist an exclusive.
Social Media and Blogs – Events can be very busy, but be sure to schedule time to update your followers through social media and your blog. Don’t just focus on what your organization is doing at the event. Include comments from other participants, attendees and speakers. Don’t underestimate the power of photographs to bring your story to life and increase interest.
Networking – Events are a great opportunity to meet influencers, customers, media contacts and others in your industry. Creating and nurturing personal relationships is essential to effective PR, so use the event as an opportunity to spend some time with as many people as possible.
Recap – Once the event is over, you’ll want to share anything you learned or other takeaways with your audience. If you made a product announcement, the post-event period is an excellent time to offer more detail, demos and success stories.
Follow-up – Be sure to follow up with any media contacts, analysts or influencers that you spoke to during the event. Don’t be a pest, but do offer them additional background materials or access to executive spokespeople. You want to keep the lines of communication open.
Assess – Now is the time to determine how you performed vs. your goals. Were you able to achieve a positive ROI for the event? If the event is annual, you’ll want to think about whether it was successful enough to reinvest next year.
Events require a lot of planning and effort, but if you have a solid strategy and execute well, they offer unique opportunities to engage your audience, gain interest from influencers and secure earned media.