15 Mar 6 Keys to Successful Event Planning
By Molly Galler
In our roles as PR professionals, we do much more than just write press releases and pitch the media. Often times we are responsible for all elements of branded communications which can include email marketing, videos, blog posts, social media content and corporate events.
Personally, I love planning events with my clients. There is nothing better than inviting media, influencers, vendor partners or consumers to a one-of-a-kind, branded experience. Memorable events can help forge really meaningful relationships with key people. Often times a long-term relationship with a reporter or a super fan begins at a brand event.
So, how do you create an experience that will truly wow your guests? Read on.
1. Location, location, location. You’ve heard that expression from real estate agents, but the same is true for event planning—it’s all about the location. If you invite people to a place they’ve always wanted to go, a venue that’s normally reserved for members only or a restaurant where it’s impossible to get a reservation, there is an immediate appeal.
*Image courtesy of Butter Restaurant.
When thinking about location, your team should also consider how easy (or difficult) it is to reach the event site. Is it near a subway stop or train station? Is it possible to park nearby? Is it in a popular neighborhood that guests would be excited to venture to?
2. Food and drink. Remember in college when you’d offer free food at events to entice your friends to come? The same is true now that we’re grownups. Providing delicious food and drinks is an easy way to get people looking forward to the event.
If you are hosting at a restaurant, work with the event planning team to design a custom menu. If you’re hosting at a venue like a museum, a stadium or a public park, think about what type of food would compliment the setting. If you are totally transforming a blank event space, bring in a caterer who can create a menu specifically for your event.
When it comes to drinks, add a personal touch with a signature cocktail. Give it a fun, cheeky, branded name to surprise your guests at the bar.
3. Adding a brand stamp. As much as event planning is about enticing guests with a stellar location and scrumptious food, it’s also about giving attendees a true sense of the brand. What is the company’s mission? What makes the products and services unique?
Use the event as an opportunity to share those differentiators. Maybe you put products on display or set up a demo station. Maybe you add posters or art work.
Maybe you decorate tables, stations or booths that highlight key features and benefits.
Planning an event is like starting with a blank canvas. As you add more elements, you begin to paint a full picture of the brand’s personality for your guests.
4. Swag. When you were little, do you remember getting goodie bags at birthday parties? That was the best part, right? Well, the same is true of brand events. Brainstorm with your team what kind of takeaway items you could gift guests that would leave a lasting impression. Maybe it’s a gift card to shop on the brand’s site. Maybe it’s a discount code. Perhaps you offer them the chance to take home a brand new product.
Providing a gift at the close of the event is a nice way to thank your guests for attending and to send them away with something they can continue to use, explore or think about that keeps the brand top of mind.
5. Lights, camera, action! One of the most important aspects of event planning for clients is ensuring you have all the equipment you need to run the event without interruption or technical difficulties. If you know the CEO is planning to present slides or do a demonstration, ask the venue if they have the proper AV equipment. Do you need a microphone? Speakers? A projector? These things can be rented, but it is much easier if they are available on site.
6. Signed, sealed, delivered. Once you have all the behind-the-scenes logistics squared away, it’s time to send invitations. The invitation provides the first glimpse at what your guests can expect from the event. As the saying goes, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”
The invitation should have a similar look and feel to the event venue and the vibe for the day or evening. Keep brand standards in mind, checking with clients on brand logos, fonts and required verbiage or disclaimers.
You can send invitations by mail, through email or via an invite design website like Paperless Post. Paperless Post is a great option if you don’t have access to a designer. You can customize the invitation, track RSVPs and send reminders to stragglers.
When you follow up with guests, be sure to ask about any dietary restrictions. There is nothing worse than having an influential guest arrive only to discover they can’t eat anything you are serving.
Use these tips to create a checklist for yourself. When you’re on calls with the clients or with possible event venues and vendors, it can be hard to remember all the questions you need answered. Keeping these six elements in mind will ensure you have all your bases covered and that your guests have a fantastic time.
Ready? Set. Plan!
Image c/o butterrestaurant.com