While virtual events have become valuable and vital for PR professionals in the past few years, we are all eager to return to live, in-person press events. Data shows there is a strong comeback of real, face-to-face gatherings. Recent surveys revealed that 55 percent of event professionals plan to have most of their events be in-person experiences, and 72 percent agree that in-person events are a crucial part of their marketing strategy.
Live events provide an immersive experience that demands attention and builds a sense of community. For brands, in-person press events aren’t just a promotion platform but a chance to showcase who/what they are. Product demos feel more real, and brand messages hit home when shared in a real-world setting.
There’s a chance for the media to dig deeper than press releases and prepped presentations. The opportunity to ask on-the-spot questions, have off-the-cuff chats, and react to unspoken cues can turn a routine story into something greater. Virtual events, while they have their place, lack the human touch. Attendees watch from behind a screen, often juggling other tasks.
The creation of rich, experiential content can only happen when you are there. That type of content is more engaging than the somewhat cold vibes of virtual meetups. The chance to share unscripted Instagram stories or make an impromptu TikTok gives followers a unique peek behind the curtain.
If you’re considering hosting a live press event, here are a few tips to set you up for a win.
Plan with Purpose
Before diving into planning, it’s critical to understand the event’s purpose. Whether introducing a new product, making a significant partnership announcement, or seeking to enhance brand exposure, understanding the “why” behind the event is pivotal in determining its structure and format. And don’t forget to set measurable goals.
Roll Out the Red Carpet
Want to bring tons of attention to your event? You should strongly consider partnering with a relevant celebrity, athlete or influencer. Not only can you leverage their fan base to increase awareness of the event, brand, etc., but their participation generates an instant buzz and excitement amongst attendees. For example, to launch its one-of-a-kind Game Day Jacket, longtime college football sponsor Dr Pepper partnered with college football icon and star of the brand’s national TV campaign “Fansville,” Brian Bosworth, to host a custom jacket fitting with media at an exclusive NYC tailor.
Engagement Through Entertainment
Incorporate interactive experiences to bring your event to life and stand out. Think of real-life gamification or other in-person activities that fully engage the attendees. Customized touches such as event-themed food and beverages and one-of-a-kind swag bags will add a special touch that will generate buzz about your brand for days after the event. A great representation of this was when we incorporated real-life gameplay for our client’s activation around football’s “Big Game.” There was a specially designed food and drink menu that featured food from the host city and the two participating teams and unique giveaways, including autographed football helmets and jerseys courtesy of our event ambassador/professional football star.
Socialize Your Event
Social media has completely transformed how we experience and learn about nearly everything. So, why not make the most of platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and more to enhance awareness for your event? Start by creating event-specific hashtags that attendees can use when they post live updates from the event and capture footage that can be shared in real-time across your brand’s owned channels. Additionally, consider setting up social photo booths for those picture-perfect selfie moments.
Location, Location, Location
Selecting the perfect spot sets the stage and can determine whether your event succeeds. It is important to consider a place that aligns with your brand or allows you the flexibility to build out a custom theme. We recently worked with Claritin to transform the iconic South Street Seaport from a blank canvas to a one-of-a-kind, nine-turn track for a special day of racing for media and influencers with actor-turned-pro racecar driver Frankie Muniz. Frankie, who deals with allergies, had fun racing go-karts in the Claritin® Clear 500 to show there is no room for allergy fog, whether on the speedway or the road of life.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Because of the renewed interest in in-person events amongst editors, journalists and influencers, they receive more event invitations and have become more selective. By providing transportation, you relieve the media of the financial responsibility of attending your event and ensure that all attendees arrive on time. This allows you to maintain control over the event’s run-of-show, ensuring that everyone is present for crucial moments and announcements.
Mark Their Calendars
“Well, it wasn’t on my calendar?” Avoid this awkward exchange by following this easy step. Once a media member has confirmed they would like to attend your event, send them a calendar invite via Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar indicating your event’s start and end times.
With the resurgence of in-person events, brands can now connect more authentically with the media and influencers. By investing time to create a truly immersive, memorable event, your brand is sure to stand out. Happy planning!
Brian Murphy is a senior vice president at Coyne PR.