Press Events: Tips from the Field

Having organized and run two fairly large press events in the past six months, I have had some time to reflect on what can make and event successful for both the client and the press.  I’ve also had the gift of hindsight to determine what I would do differently to improve the experience on the next round.  (She laughs and cringes at the thought of organizing another event right now….heh)

Press events can be major undertakings.  They first start off in the concept phase, brainstorming ideas and expectations with your client.  It’s important in this stage of the game to be realistic with your goals and the projected outcome of the event.  Identifying the purpose and main objectives is helpful to begin formulating logistics and talking points. 

Once you’ve got a clear directive from the client, it is then time to go out and coordinate all of the logistical aspects of the project.  These details require thoroughness and may demand you contact several dozen vendors for quotes, availability and expectations.  This is a time consuming process and on round one, I did it all myself.  Thankfully, the event location and vendors were all housed in the same building, so it made life easier.  This time around, I had a newly appointed event manager coordinating most of these details and I’m almost positive it saved me my sanity. 

Contacting the press for the event is arguably the most important step as it’s not so much a press event without press…just a bunch of people standing around an open bar.  I recommend sending out a save the date close to 8 weeks prior to the actual date to plant the seed.  It also gives a reference for following up and will probably secure some RSVPs right off the bat.  Once the actual invite has gone out, it is critical to give as many details as possible to attendees so there are no surprises and they are completely informed as to what they have said yes to attending.  This includes how they are getting there, how long they will be asked to stay for and what will happen during. 

After the event is over, preparing a follow-up report for the participating client helps them see on paper the value of their dollars and time spent on the project.  It’s also a good idea to thank each press person for attending and offer them any additional they might need for their coverage – this also helps keep track of upcoming editorial. 

What shouldn’t you do?  Well, in a word, assume.  Assume people will just show up, assume that every last detail doesn’t need to be triple-checked, assume all of your team knows exactly what they need to do and what your expectations are if you didn’t actually tell them ahead of time.  Second to assuming is panicking.  Things will go wrong, it’s just the nature of the job.  It’s the ability to handle everything calmly and work as a team that will help make the event appear to have gone off without a hitch. 

In both events, I was lucky to work with clients who were extremely easy to work with and did a fantastic job in their spokesperson roles.   And it is nice to know that each and every experience provides an opportunity to learn.

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter

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