April 3, 2019
As PR professionals, we know that 85 percent of securing media coverage is about building relationships, and the other 15 percent is pure luck of pitching the right person at the right time. In my experience, one of the most impactful ways to build relationships both for your agency and client is to host a media event. While the planning and prep is a lot of work, there isn’t a better feeling than seeing your client grinning from ear-to-ear as they look upon a room full of engaged media talking about their product and brand. Here are my tips gathered from many lessons learned over a decade+ of event planning.
Media events can get expensive once you factor in the number of targeted attendees, venue, cocktails and food, décor, etc. Creating a budget estimate before you begin planning any facet of the event is going to keep you, your team and the client accountable throughout the process. Once you have a budget, create your new best friend…a budget tracker and record every penny spent.
I once planned an event where we budgeted for 75 people and ended up with over 100 RSVP’s the week of the event. We kept the client updated on the event status during our weekly calls, so they knew how we were tracking. The client was thrilled at the media’s overwhelming interest in attending their event and was more than willing to invest the extra money, all because we kept them updated on a weekly basis.
I can’t stress how important transparency is when planning an event. Being transparent with your client helps manage their expectations from the beginning of planning and creates an ability for your team to be agile in reacting to any unplanned bumps in the road that come up along the way. They’ll appreciate it and it’ll go a long way in terms of building a solid long-term relationship with the client.
Media get invited to attend brand events on a daily basis, and unfortunately, they aren’t able to attend them all, so make sure your event has that extra pizazz to get that ‘YES’ RSVP. I’ve planned events ranging from those with celebrity chefs and models-turned entrepreneur to outfitting moms-to-be with the latest fashionable stroller and giving media the opportunity to fly on a private jet to a client’s headquarters in another state. It’s about that little something extra that aligns with the brand and its persona.
While this will increase the cost of your event, I’ve seen the ROI this one small offering can make on media attendees and subsequent coverage time-and-again. As most media events take place after hours, it’s nice to make your client event a social one where media can bring their significant other, a friend, or even better a colleague from their publication who might also write about your client.
While we’d love for media to leave the event and instantly write stories gushing about our clients, it often takes time for their stories to go live. However, since we all stalk most of our media contacts on social, we know they Instagram and Tweet up a storm, so fun social media-worthy elements like a photo booth, delicious food, or the above-mentioned celebrity will definitely get them posting. These posts allow you to show your client instant ROI from the large investment they just made, and it gives your team time to conduct follow-ups with media without continual questions from your client.
Looking to host a media event? Reach out to LEWIS and find out how we can help!