press-cameras Image: Richard Masoner/Flickr

Organising the perfect press event involves a number of key factors including venue, time, guestlist, experience and, most importantly, communication.

Rule number one in the organization must always be to allow yourself enough time to get the event in the right people’s diaries. Journalists are generally very busy people who get invited to an awful lot of events, so if you want to minimize the risk of a date clash then be sure to get in there first.

Of course, often the most difficult part of planning a press event is giving the press a reason to attend. The experience that the attendees will have at the event requires careful thought, why should they take time out of their day to be at your event? Think carefully about what you’re promoting and use this event to give the attendees an experience that they won’t get if they’re not there. Launching a new product? Then give them the first opportunity to use it. Opening a new bar? Give them an exclusive look before the public. Launching a new fashion line? Offer them exclusive interview opportunities with the designer.

Venue and time require careful consideration. Which press are you targeting and where are they based? Choose a venue that’s both convenient location wise and unique. Research the date before issuing invites and double check that it doesn’t clash with any other similar events, therefore you’ll be sure to get your invite in there first. Also pay close attention to the timing of your event and consider if it’s an event more suited to daytime or evening.

Communication is key and the initial invite is just the first step. Tailor your invites personally to key press and never be afraid to follow up. If you don’t receive an immediate RSVP don’t give up, remember journalists are busy people. A follow up email stating why the event is such a good fit for their publication can go a long way. Also ensure that the journalists have all the information they need from the initial introduction. Including a full press release when sending the invitations will offer additional insight into the product, launch or venue and also give the journalist material should they wish to write an advance feature.

Of course we live in the age of social media and never is social media more important than with a press event. Before the event make sure that everyone on the guestlist is fully aware of your Twitter, Instagram and other social media handles and set up an event hashtag (that will make your media monitoring much easier afterwards).

No longer do you only want journalists at your press event but also social influencers, those who will talk about the launch and those who have an audience who will listen. It’s vital to understand the audience of your event and know who can offer you the best reach. Very often that can be bloggers and social influencers as much as journalists.

So now you’ve got the guests there, they have all the social media details and they’re posting away, now what? Hopefully your guests will have been greeted at the door and you’re able to pinpoint the key individuals. You need to be thinking ahead in terms of photography and will have briefed the event photographer on who you want photos of, what branding needs to be in the background and what the must have shots are. You’ll need these post event! You’ll also want to think about your client’s needs, which guests do you need to get the client in front of? Make sure you know your guestlist inside out and that you’re able to offer insightful introductions between your client and the guests that could lead to further interest and coverage. Also be prepared to answer questions. If anyone’s an expert on the subject of this event it’s you and you need to be able to answer any questions the guests may have.

But the perfect event doesn’t end when the last Champagne glass has been put down, there’s still work to do! So what should be on your post event checklist?

  • Go through the event photography and select key images to be sent out to journalists (check people, branding and placement)
  • Write a post event press release with quotes and key highlights from the event
  • Contact attendees to thank them for coming and include the post event press release and a link to download a selection of key images
  • Monitor your social media coverage (number of hashtag posts, total reach, total engagements)
  • Monitor, record and follow up all coverage to present to the client
Organising a good press event undoubtedly requires a large level of planning, but done correctly is the best PR tool you can have.

By Gabrielle Miller, owner, Cool As Group