Now that it looks like spring has finally sprung, it's time for corporate events season. Every spring industries and brands vie for attention on show floors and in conference venues across the nation. And just like it's tough to get past the online clutter, it's just as difficult to create a "live" event that piques the interest of potential clients and other stakeholders.
Make no mistake, face-to-face communication is just as important to the public as website and social outreach. In addition to improving response and consideration scores, engagement with customers stemming from experiential communications activity produces real changes in purchase intent, says Diane Gage Lofgren, chief communications officer and senior VP, brand communication, at Kaiser Permanente. According to a Mosaic study, 95% of event participants are more inclined to purchase a product or service being promoted.
So what does it take to plan, execute and communicate an event that will your target audience won't easily forget? Here are tips from Gage Lofgren:
1. Evaluate Your Event for a Strategic Fit: Events need to be consistent with the organization’s brand, meshing with business goals, objectives and outcomes. The event must match your company's values and business priorities.
2. Secure Leadership Buy In: Identify key executive sponsors of the event and schedule briefings with them. "Be ready to demonstrate your event's value to them with a business case," says Gage Lofgren.
3. Pre-Plan and Promote the Heck Out of Your Event: Promote speakers ahead of time to your contacts through emails, blogs, and social media. Pitch to media in advance and amplify presence onsite through the display of artwork, demonstrations and videos. Have trained PR team members onsite to staff interviews and followup with media and stakeholders.
4. Make Events Interactive and Memorable: During conferences and meetings minimize the use of PowerPoint. Also, shake up the event with something unexpected (a surprise guest speaker or a flash mob gathering, for example). Build in unique activities and events that make your event stand out.
5. Extend the Event: Invite key journalists and bloggers and offer previews to a few select reporters. Facilitate an expert meet-and-greet to attract media PR and attendees. Create an event-specific mobile game for attendees and offer added-value items at the event.
6. Share Your Event Results: Offer event surveys to participants that are fun and interactive. Send a recap to all stakeholders sharing survey findings and other metrics. And be sure to highlight how PR contributed to the bottom line via your event.
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