Publicity can do many things for your event: draw people, raise the level of awareness and attract possible sponsors. However, like most other aspects of event planning, it will take a bit of work to set up properly. You can do one of two things: set it up in-house or hire a public relations (PR) agency.
No matter which route you go, there are a few things you need to consider in order for your campaign to be successful.
The agency or team has to have material ready for the media. That means a press release, bios of your most prominent speakers/panelists, their photos, a schedule and contact info for the media to reach the right people for an interview. All this material should be in a kit. It can be printed, but nowadays it’s best presented electronically in the form of a video, PDF pages or PowerPoint.
Ask one or two of your speakers or presenters or even MC to be available for interviews. The media likes to get something unique from the press kit and someone who can speak for the event. To make it easy on everyone, set up a press day or time… “Ms. Knowles will be available for interviews from 2 p.m until 4 p.m. on Wednesday…” This adds value for the media outlets and your speakers.
Don’t forget the bloggers. Sure, it looks good to hit the main media, both local and national, but bloggers can generate buzz, too. Make sure you go for the ones that your event attendees and target audience will tend to read. A lot of bloggers also share information on their social media accounts, especially if you invite them to cover your event. By the way, a good PR agency will have a ready-made list of media outlets to contact.
Set up a social media community. Constantly refresh the page or run new content on what’s going to happen, who’s going to be there and where’s it’s going to be held. Set up a countdown of days, offer discounts and early bird registration, provide a link to the event… imagine your event as a TV show and the content changes every day or week.
Do the hashtag. On Twitter especially, the hashtag tends to draw like-minded folks and promotes your event with minimal effort from you!
Hire a photographer to take pictures of everything at your event. Not only will they be great tools to promote next year, if your event is a multi-day affair, you can blast select photos on your social media and to the media every day to keep your event prominent on everyone’s site.
A good PR strategy may seem like extra work in the beginning, but once you get it going, it’ll be a snowball effect and really put your event in the limelight.