You’re throwing a big event.
You have no PR agency on retainer, no communicator on staff, and you’re a team of one with no idea where to start. How do you let people know about your event?
First you need a plan. A plan begins with defining your ultimate goal.
Step 1: Determine what you’re actually trying to achieve.
Are you promoting to increase ticket sales? Are ticket sales important because they bring in the revenue needed to pay off the event? Are you looking instead just for people to know and attend. Are you hoping to guarantee your sponsors a certain amount of eyes on their product or service? Perhaps you’re hoping to fundraise at the event and thus simply need as many deep pockets as possible. Whatever your goal is, all communications developed for the event will be based on your objective.
Step 2: Determine your audience and your scale.
Think about who you need to talk to, how you’ll reach them, and when you’ll do it. In some cases, getting media attention prior to the event is the most effective way to reach your broader target audience. In others, you would’ve been better off approaching your audience directly.
For example, if you’re looking to reach students, it may make more sense to promote directly to schools. If your aim is to target seniors, local newspapers with direct readership may be a wonderful option, but so too may retirement communities, or local seniors’ programs. Think out of the box and think strategically.
Give yourself enough time to execute your plan. For example, if you’re creating an ad for a print publication, they may have a long lead time before your ad will run. The more time you have, the better you can hone your message, develop more sophisticated assets, and repeat your message so that it will resonate and be remembered by more of your audience.
Step 3: Determine your message.
What are you going to say and how are you going to say it? In order to develop the best key message, think about the benefit or value your event offers. If you have more than one audience, think about how each message should be tailored for each group. You wouldn’t say the same thing to a 16-year-old boy as you may say to a mother of 5 little children.
Think beyond your initial message as well, and reflect again on your end goal. What do you want to tell your guests once you’ve gotten them in one room?
Step 4: Determine your budget for promotion.
You’ve likely already considered this cost when creating your overall event budget. However, now that you’ve thought about the type of promotion you need, you can officially allocate money towards each promotional tactic.
For example, how much money do you need to distribute a press release? What about money to spend on paid advertising? If you’re short on resources, how can you reach your audience without spending a ton of money? Will social media work, or can you go old school and design a poster in-house and hand deliver it to high traffic areas? Once again, don’t only rely on traditional tactics. Think outside the box. Sometimes, the least used ideas can do the best job of reaching your audience.
Step 5: Execute.
You’ve planned it out. You’ve thought about who you’re reaching, what you’re going to say, where, how and when you’ll say it. Now it’s time to follow each step in your plan.
Here are some items you may want to consider in your campaign:
- For media, consider a news release and other press materials (media kit, advisory, backgrounder etc.).
- Consider other digital assets like an event page on Facebook and your website, email event notifications, Instagram handle for your event, promotional video for YouTube social etc.
- When advertising, consider all media (radio, print, social). Don’t forget that your organic social media assets should help support your paid ad push.
- Consider registering your event on a variety of online event calendars and creating some buzz on your blog or member forums.
- Consider ordering any desired event swag and remember to include a website or company name as these assets can serve as walking advertising for your brand.
Pro tips: Your key messages should be consistent in all of your media. Also, be sure to include logos from your corporate sponsors. Some of their brands may help legitimize your event and increase your audience.
Step 6: Measure your success.
Was your press release picked up by any media? Did a lot of people visit your event website? Were your social media posts shared or engaged with? Think about what worked well, and what perhaps was too time consuming or too expensive to make it worthwhile. This information can help you determine what you will build on or scrap the next time you plan an event of this nature.
Step 7: Close the loop with everyone.
This is a great way to build relationships with your audience, sponsors, partners, team, staff etc. It’s also a great way to continue to build profile on your business and brand. Let them know how successful it was or how much you appreciate their hard work. Keep the conversation going beyond the event itself. You may decide to :
- Send out an email to your subscriber base with highlights from the event
- Make a publicity reel video to share how it went (P.S. you can use this as publicity next year!)
- Share highlights on social media
Don’t forget to update your event web page to reflect that the event has passed.
There are a lot ways to promote an event successfully. If you’re looking for more ideas, or need help to get this done, you can always reach out to CONTENTEVENTS for a hand.