PR Advice #2 – Events – Blogger/ Launch Events – Part 2
WARNING – Text heavy post but worth a read if you’re new to this.
If you haven’t seen my previous blog post (it went live last Monday, you can see it here), at the moment I’m sharing advice and tips on organising press tours and blogger events for any PRs out there.
To recap, events are often a big part of PR, whether it’s in the form of a press tour, a launch event or a blogger event to help raise awareness of a brand and/ or client. Events are, by far, one of my favourite things to organise.
As mentioned, I’ve put together a couple of tips on how to run a successful event for those of you who are new to it.
Before starting any event, you need to make sure (and I know it sounds corny) but you’ve got the following questions answered:
- What are you promoting?
- Is it a specific product? A brand? You need to know your company inside out so you can answer any questions fired at you
- Who is the target audience?
- Press? Bloggers? Lifestyle/ Parenting/ Beauty?
- When is the event taking place?
- Events don’t happen overnight, so make sure you have a decent amount of time to organise everything
- Where are you going to hold it?
- Location is so important. If it’s a blogger event, it’s fairly normal to pay for travel, so make it easy to get to. If it’s a press event, the big publishing houses are all in London so make that a priority unless you’re willing to pay for major travel
- Why are you doing this event?
- This question will help shape you’re event. If you’re looking for coverage only, it needs to be product focused, if you’re looking to build relationships, make a day/evening of it and incorporate an activity, you can normally kill two birds with one stone and keep clients happy
- How are you going to go about organising it?
- This is (hopefully) where my tips will come in handy!
Blogger/ Launch Events
- Before you start sending out invites, you need to create clear guidelines of what you are trying to do. If you’re launching a product, great, you know you want to showcase that product in the best light and to its target audience. For a blogger event, it’s not so straight forward. Blogger events, in my opinion, not only put your product directly in front of consumers but it also builds relationships with some very influential people, with often big unique monthly users and a massive social presence and allows them to meet the face behind a brand, too.
- When you’re organising an event, it’s slightly different to a press tour as it needs to be informative, engaging and entertaining without being very samey and dull (words which have been said to me before- thankfully not describing my events). In my experience, it’s always best to have a structured evening teamed with a free-flow activity. In the past I’ve done a cupcake making class, a pizza making class, a ‘create your own’ class, a spa session a spin session, a tennis masterclass and a drinks/ dinner reception. Each event followed the same format which, I think, has always worked well. It starts with welcome reception, company introduction, activity, post-activity chat/ free time and then goody bag/ competition winner announcement (for ‘making’ events)/ home. Following this format allows you to casually introduce the company and showcase some products with the welcome reception, get any important information across with the introduction talk (no longer than 5/10 mins in my opinion), chaos commences with the activity and then the time after allows for any questions/ requests.
- Following this format, spreadsheets will, once again, become your best friend. Before starting anything, pull together a ‘wish list’ press list/ bloggers of those that you would really like to attend.
- Once you’ve got this set-up, create a spreadsheet with the following details; for press, Publication House, Publication, Name, Email, Phone Number, Attending Y/N, Notes. For bloggers, use Blog Name, Blog Link, Category, Twitter Link, Followers, Email, Name, Location, Notes. This allows you to put all details, all publications, all locations and all timings into one easy-to-read document, and it can easily be read and understood by other members of any team. It should look like this:
- Draft your invite and remember the questions above, keep it short (you’re going into detail when you meet them), keep it informative and keep it to the point. Include images (if you have any) and give a time and remember to allow time for any latecomers (welcome receptions always work well in my opinion). You also need to think about a location, if it’s an evening or daytime event it needs to be easily accessible. Bloggers can be dotted all over the UK, so creating one central location (this is where your ‘location’ tab comes in handy) means you’ll be able to determine where is central for the majority of bloggers you would like to attend. Remember to ask if the attendee will need travel paid for, and if you’re serving food at the venue, make sure to ask for any dietary requirements at this stage.
- If they don’t come back to your email, follow up with a call or another email if you don’t have the contact details, but leave a decent amount of time for them to actually come back to your emails. Sending an invite at 10:01am and calling at 10:02am isn’t going to help you at all.
- If they can’t attend, make sure you keep hold of their details (if they’re interested), so you can send a press release on. If they can attend, make a note of it and move on to the next person to call.
- When you’ve got everyone attending that physically can, it’s time to start organising materials – are you going to have press samples on the day or will you send this on? Will you be creating goody bags for all attendees? If you have room decorations, how are you going to get these to/ from the venue? Do you have enough petty cash for travel? Does the venue have wifi? Will you need to hire a photographer/ videographer? Press packs need to include press release, images, contact details and company details if all are available.
- Travel, for the majority of bloggers, will need to be paid for in advance. I normally use the Trainline but I hate their cancellation/ refund policies and you always get dropouts for an event so you have to deal with refunds at some point. However I’m not sure of any other all-in-one ticket services that are decent! I tend to email attendees asking for their starting and ending destinations, as well as if they need a travel card and if they have any railcards that can often help save money on travel.
- FOLLOW UP. You will need to follow up with an email to confirm exact details closer to the day, including a run through of the event. I also like to send out a final reminder email a day or two in advance with the addition or my contact number in case anyone does run late or needs you during the day. This allows time for any dropouts to let you know on the day, although there will also (always) be no-shows.
- Create an itinerary for yourself and anyone who is attending with you. This includes: a full run down on what is happening on the day, include the spreadsheet above so you have a full low down of who is attending (and it can double up as a register to check people in).
- If you’re creating specific social tags, I found it really handy to create some ‘stay connected’ cards to hand out on the night. These include: wifi name and password, social handles for the brand on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as any specific hashtags for the evening. I also make sure that we are following all attendees on their social accounts in advance. The day before the event, send out a tweet to say you’re looking forward to meeting them; it adds a nice personal touch and also introduces all attendees to each other. Makes it easier for everyone to stalk!
- Make sure you liase with the venue as to when you can get your room decorations sent down to them, and also let them know in advance when they will be picked up. I make sure to mention how many boxes they should be receiving in case any aren’t delivered.
- On the day, make sure you are early for everything, it’s better to be early/ on time than late. Get down to the venue and make sure it looks the way you want it to without arriving so late that nothing can be done if it does look different to what you imagined.
- Organise goody bags (if applicable), and get these out of view so the place doesn’t look cluttered (unless you have a designated area for them).
- Double check that your team is ready and they know what they are supposed to be doing on the night. I know it’s strange but people who thrive in unknown, social settings are always better than the shy and retiring type. Make sure someone is looking after social media to live-stream the night on your channels too.
- Greet all attendees personally wherever possible, show them to the check in area, give them a name badge, show them the toilets/ cloak room and offer them a drink on arrival. Make them feel special and introduce yourself clearly.
- Mingle with the room. This is so important, interact with as many people as possible and make sure you get all your key messages across that you want/ need to. Introduce them to people they may/ may not know, and get the group talk going. As a PR professional it’s your responsibility to make sure everyone feels at ease and knows what you need them too.
- Depending on how forward-facing your client is (if you’re agency), prepare to either be the spokesperson or take a back seat. Make sure to brief your client (if they are the front runner) on who they are talking to before they go off on a tangent chatting to someone completely different to what they think. Saves some major embarrassment on both behalf’s.
- Take a notebook and record anything of importance anyone says during an event. If they think it’ll fit in for a specific feature, make sure you record the deadline day, if they say they don’t like the colour range, right it down, if they ask for a sample straight away, make a note, any info you can get – record it.
- Enjoy the evening! This can be anything from 2 – 6 months worth of work all culminating in one evening, so enjoy it! In my opinion, I don’t take part in any activities as I mingle and chat to everyone but it’s also nice if someone in your team does get involved as you’re getting stuck in with the attendees.
- Once your event is complete, you can relax. It’s such a stressful day, so make sure you take a bottle of water and paracetamol with you as, at times, I’ve had to boycott lunch/ dinner to stick to time scales.
- Once you’re done, and are home, GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK. If it all went smoothly, well done, if there were hiccups but you handled then professionally, GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK. It’s not easy doing events and it’s something to be proud of.
- Post event, follow up with a ‘thank you’ email to all attendees of the day. Thank them for coming, ask if they have any additional questions, send over a press release/ images (if you have them) and, if you have samples, remind them these can be sent out. I also like to send out a thank you tweet (especially with bloggers) as it’s a more personal touch.
- It’s your responsibility to make sure that any blogger/ press request is fulfilled, and this is now the time to do it. If they’ve requested samples, get them sent out and added to your media liaison (if you don’t know what this is, ask me) and continue to follow up.
- You then need to create a debrief document, which is your time to shine in my opinion. I create a powerpoint presentation with the following slides: Title page, what we did and why, The event (where was it/ when, who?), Attendees with blog links (where applicable), social handles and any further information, a slide each for post, during and after event social mentions, images from the event, a budget slide, feedback slide (normally received, rather helpfully, from your ‘thank you’ email), coverage links and a team feedback slide. Make it colourful, make it bright and show off what you did. It’s really not easy organising, attending and hosting an event, so well done for being Wonder Woman/ Super Man on the night.
I think this is everything, and if you’ve made it this far then I salute you as that’s a lot of tips, but I’ve done a fair few press/ blogger events in my career and I’ve learnt from each one, so it’s worth sharing.
If you have any other questions or would like any specific blog posts on PR advice, please feel free to send these through to me.
Thanks for reading,