Create PR buzz for your event – tips from the experts

Stratitude’s PR specialists Sherole Webster-Choshi and Brenda Setlhapelo

Whether you’ve booked a stand at an expo or you’re holding a customer event to launch a new product, a good PR plan will give your budget more mileage, generate interest, drive attendance and ensure exposure long after the last guest has left.From our experience, here are some basic tips to help you boost the profile of your event and increase attendance:

  1. Get the basics down on paper

This might seem like a no-brainer, but organisers often leave out key details when they promote their events. Put in writing all the essential information, including the event name, date, time, location, where to buy tickets or RSVP, and any highlights, as well as the details of the event contact person. With all the main information upfront, it’s easier for the media to talk about your event.

  1. Work on your press pitch

Ask yourself what value the media will find in your event and why their readers, listeners or viewers would be interested. Don’t just send the basics, focus on the what, why, who, when and where, and then write your pitch in a way that the media will find interesting, as well as easy to write or talk about.

  1. Create a media list

It doesn’t make sense to approach an engineering magazine to cover a fashion show, so put some thought into the media you want to invite. Create a consolidated media list of publications, digital platforms and portals, radio stations, TV channels and influencers, then add the details – the publication or programme name, relevant section, contact name and areas of focus.

Adapt your media pitch for each of the media you target, so they understand why your event is relevant to them.

  1. Use event highlights for PR

Do you have a well-known speaker or performer at your event? Use their influence to get coverage.  Do you have several top brands participating in your expo? Use their clout and social media platforms to promote the expo and widen your reach.

  1. Don’t leave it to the last minute

All publications have a lead time, which could be three to six months in advance of their publication date. Engage with online publications at least one month before your event date and at least three months for print publications. If you leave it to the last minute, no matter how newsworthy your event, you will simply be too late.

  1. Focus on your content

A press release might tell a great story, but back it up with images to create more interest for the media. Ask your speakers and performers for photos, use pictures from previous years, and create a promo video or even an infographic with all the event details. Hire a professional photographer for the big day, so you can send images to the media and have photos for the subsequent year.

  1. Generate a hashtag

Create an event hashtag and use it consistently across all your social media platforms, then ask visitors and the media to use the hashtag when they attend. Not only does this create awareness and hype, but it ensures you reach a wider audience and it goes a long way to building the credibility of your event.

  1. What you can’t measure, you can’t improve

Keep track of your coverage. It’s essential to know which media covered you, which journalists supported you the most, and which angles or stories received the greatest traction. This information gives you insight into what worked and helps you better target the PR for your next event. It also highlights the media you should contact, to build ongoing relationships with.

  1. Invite the media

Give the media free access to your event and make a point of meeting them when they arrive and showing them around or introducing them to key people. Have a press kit on hand with all the necessary details, as well as information about exhibitors, speakers or performers. 

Ask them if there is anything of particular interest to them or what they’d like to focus on – this will help you pitch your story better and will give them the value they’re looking for.

Most importantly – don’t manage your event separately from your PR. Integrate everything from when you start your planning, to ensure the entire team understands what the event is aimed at achieving and everyone, from the event planning team to the stand builders and PR team, is working towards a common purpose.

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