7 TOP TIPS FOR PULLING OFF AN AB FAB PRESS EVENT
Press events are a tricky entity. If you follow any journalists, stylists or influencers on instagram you’re bound to have seen a wealth of glamorous events, flowers covering the tables, gifts at each place setting and generally an abundance of BUDGET!!
Jo Malone is one that does the press event SO well. With a collection of brand ambassadors under contract, these events are always well attended and always well shared across social media.
So, what’s the point of press events? This is really the ‘social/schmoozing’ element of PR in a lot of ways. Journalists are busy, they get a lot of press releases, they are saturated with information, so building relationships is super important. Now, there are any number of ways to do this, and press events is one of them. Inviting journalists, stylists and influencers to press events is a great way of meeting them in person, making a real connection with them, introducing your product or service in the flesh and putting faces to names.
That said, it’s not easy to coax these lovely people away from their desks/photoshoots/studios/homes, so this presents the challenge.
Now, I’ve planned and executed many a press event, from new brand launches to charity events, to multi-brand press days to collection showcase events. I’ve managed to coax the likes of You & Your Wedding, OK!, Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail, Psychologies, Woman & Home, Good Housekeeping and Marie Claire out to events.
There are a lot of elements to consider in doing this though:
- The aim of the event - who are you looking to reach?
- Is it own brand or is it a collaboration? - will two or more brands be better than one or is this about YOU
- The format of the event - what are you offering and how are you presenting it?
- Is it a seasonal collection/event? - what type of media are you wanting to reach out to?
- Who you are wanting to invite - are you targeting all media regardless of lead time? Are you looking for influencers and celebrities to attend or just media?
- Is there a key attraction of the event? - What is going to get people there?
- Are you doing goody bags or a gift for those that attend?
- Timelines - do you have enough time to plan and execute; time to create and send out invites, chase attendance, send reminders etc?
I do feel that brands, especially new brands, have to work harder to get people through the door for things like this these days, given the amount of money, incentives and gifts that are offered by larger brands as well as the sheer volume of these events that are now taking place. Events like this are now often as much of a ‘social media sharing’ exercise as they are to introduce the media to the offering. This saturation can be tricky to break through.
However, it can be done and here’s how:
Get Clear and Nail your Timing
What are you wanting to achieve with this event? Is it a collection launch? Is it a brand birthday celebration? Is it an awareness raiser? Be as aware as you can of key industry activity so that you don’t avoid any major clashes. Is it fashion related? Avoid the fashion weeks and the following week or two, you will not even speak to anyone let alone get anyone out to your event. Are you planning a summer event? Does it class with the key Christmas in July press days? Is it an event that you want coverage for or are you introducing a service or offering that you are hoping for coverage for?
Offer more -
What can you use to incentive a journalist to visit? At a salon that I launched we made sure to lay on manicures, blow dries, facial consultations and champagne/canapés to add interest to the event.
Plan a ‘Showpiece’ -
Launching a new wedding cake business, we had the maker and designer create a ten tier showstopper cake. We use the design illustration on the invites and hyped interest with a ‘fact file’ on the cake details (the number of sugar roses, the number of hours etc) and this was centre of the room during the event.
Be Innovative with your Invites -
Many invites for events like this go out with a gift, a teaser or a sweetener of sorts. I remember a shoe brand sending an invite for their new collection launch - a shoebox with one shoe and a note that said ‘come to the event to get the other’. A great invite will capture attention and quite often gain some social media coverage at that stage as well.
Get Social -
Encourage social sharing right from day one - create a specific hashtag that you can share on your invites along with your key social media handle(s). Find ways to encourgae social interaction at your event so that you can maximse the vaue that you are getting out of the event itself. Brand visibility can really be ramped up by some great social shares from journalists, media and influencers.
Nail your Guestlist and Get the invites out -
Be clear about who you want to attract to the event but have a mix of top tier/ultimate guests through to more accessible contacts that you can better guarantee attendance from. Work with a combination of ‘hard copy’ invite, email follow up and quick calls and collate the responses that you get back. Don’t keep sending the invite if someone has already responded with a NO.
Send an email that says ‘looking forward to seeing you’ along with any key information that your attendees might need such as a contact number and directions. You may get a few drop offs here where other things have come up, and you will still get a drop off rate on the day, but it reminds people that they have committed and nurtures that connection. Then, if you have promised any further information or samples…follow up! These relationships are gold dust to create and as such can evaporate very quickly. Do exactly what you say you will and foster trust that the journalist will now start to develop in you.
Be realistic about your aims and what you expect from the event and maximise it every way you can - share it all across your social media, write a blog about it, share any resulting press coverage or mentions, use in ‘throwback’ content, share with your email list.
There is plenty of mileage beyond just those who attend on the day.