Q: I heard that sometimes hosting an event can generate good PR. How can I get the most out of my event?
A: Hosting an event for your business or at your business can be the equivalent to getting an article published in a targeted publication. The focus is what makes it so effective. The event can take the form of an open house, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a seminar or a guest appearance by a celebrity, political official or someone else of significance. Once you decide that you are going to have an event, there are a few things to do to get even more bang for your PR buck.
- Let your target market know that you are having an event. An announcement can be made first with a press release to publications that reach your target market. Hand out fliers at your place of business, with customer orders and at any networking sessions you attend to get the word out about your event. A follow-up press release as the event approaches further instills your name into an editor's list as a progressive promoter and a business worthy of news. Target local publications, national publications, trade publications, personal newsletters and any publication linked with your business or organization.
- If you are having a speaker or another guest of honor, a separate press release announcing the appearance of that person can be issued. Consider releasing a series of press releases for the event, depending on the nature of the event. The announcement of the special guest can come from you, the host, or sometimes speakers and guests like to announce themselves appearing at a particular event. The more coverage, the better.
- Invite the media with handwritten invitations. Just like a party, invite the people you want to attend. Send invitations to the media, your customers and important prospects, friends and family. It's even OK to include a copy of the first press release with your invitation to further emphasize the importance of the event.
- At the event itself, announce the media representatives that are present and present them with press passes and/or special name tags. Press people like to feel special and have special access.
- Have plenty of press kits available to pass out to those attending. Pass them out not only to the media representatives, but also to your guests. Customers and prospects should receive any and all press releases that you issue. If you don't have a press kit, make one. They are not that hard to put together, they don't have to be fancy and they don't have to include volumes of material. A sample press kit might be the press release announcing the event; a bio on any speaker or guest; a fact sheet on the company's history, product or service; and a bio on the owner/president of the company. That's the basic information; anything more is gravy. This will also help the media write their follow-up stories about your event. You can even be so bold as to write a suggested article as a "template."
- Include in the press kit a frequently asked questions list about the company, person, product or service written in interview form. This makes it easier for radio and TV people to interview you or pick a few questions for press.
- Most importantly, hire a photographer or carry around a digital camera. You will want your event recorded. Offer the media electronic photos for their publications. Post printed photos at your place of business and include them in any follow-up thank-you notes to your guests.
- Send persistent, automatic e-mails to inform, educate, sample and entertain potential attendees. I recommend two per week starting three months before registration is cut off.
- Ask potential attendees to send contact information for five people who they think would be interested in attending, and ask them to send out the soliciting e-mail to two others not included in the original five.
- Use a hook. Offer a free report, such as "How to gain more out of life by attending these events" or "Top 10 ways to budget your time," to those in attendance.
- Have a pre-event contest, with the winner to be announced at the event.
These are just a few ideas that will give your event a big bang. Using your imagination to come up with a few more will increase your PR immensely. The goal is to get noticed and get people talking about your business.
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-mail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now, and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing company in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at http://www.market-for-profits.com and http://www.1-800-inkwell.com, or e-mail him at email@example.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.