You set the strategy. You plan the logistics. You map out event marketing. But, wait where’s the PR?
Event PR can attract attention, fill seats, add dimension, connect communities, AND spread news. To get the most out of your PR efforts, don’t make these top 10 event marketing mistakes.
1. Sending out one lonely event marketing media release.
Isn’t one release enough, you ask? Not when you can stage releases to build up anticipation or customize the releases for each speaker or highlight each audience. One release can’t carry an entire event.
Fix: Plan a series of releases that tell your story, build anticipation and send traffic back to your event site.
2. Minimizing details.
Ever been to an event and think “Wow! If I would’ve known how exciting this experience would be, I would’ve invited more people.” Instead, the event press release comes off as a ho-hum who, what, when, where and why. Boring promotions lead to low turnout.
Fix: Detail your release with speakers, sponsors, venue details, and agenda highlights that add excitement and interest.
3. Sending text message only via email.
Believe it or not, people are still sending old school double-spaced press releases as .pdf attachments via email – how retro!
Press releases with video and pictures out perform the boring copied from Word documents that often appear on websites. Where are the people? What does the venue look like? Show me!
Fix: Send a teaser email with a link to an event album and videos.
4. Leading with headlines that don’t grab - anything.
A sure recipe for PR disaster starts with a headline that includes no keywords, no interest, and runs over 80 characters. Yes, people really do send these out every day. Because people pay attention to two things on the Internet, headlines and photos, the long and boring headline gets lost in a sea of more sparkly grabbers.
Fix: Write at least 50 sample headlines and test them with a focus group, along with the search engines, to see how they perform.
5. Not investing in distribution.
Sure, you can distribute an event press release for free. When you pass up the relatively low cost [$400 or so] for getting wider distribution, you also get a news site with images / video and best of all, analytics and tracking.
Fix: Explore distribution options by comparing investments to what you expect to get from the plan: numbers, tracking, keywords, submissions to news sites, etc.
6. No event marketing PR crisis plan.
In 37 years, nothing’s ever happened at your conference. With no PR crisis plan in place you expect every event will be super sunny. So you’re caught off guard if trouble shows up in the way of something seemingly benign as super slow wifi. Boy, those techies can get crabby! And you should be, too. Why? No wifi? No updates.
Fix: Create worst-case scenario crisis situations and map out a strategy for responding to press, social media and members/attendees. Share the strategy with your event marketing team so everyone is prepared to be a front line responder. Jump in the social media conversation and set up an IRL [in real life] command center to respond to complaints.
7. Playing hide and seek with the media.
Ever posted a release on your site and expected the media to find it? Your event is really big news, right? So, why can’t the media find it? They don’t know where to look.
Fix: Target media you want to reach including trade publications, blogger, social media influencers and yes, your members/attendees. Make sure they know where to find your news. An online newsroom is a must as is personalized outreach
8. Turning away the press.
When a registered press contact shows up, turn them away and say, “You’re not a blogger. You’ll have to pay $100 to attend the show.” [Yes, this really happened to me at a show where the general public got in free. And, yes, I am a real, live blogger. I don’t just play one at conferences. J]
Fix: Invite media in. In fact, send them an email confirming complimentary registration and no hassle speaker interviews. [This too, really happened to me. While I wasn’t planning on attending a new media industry trade show before I got the email, I was covering the show in Las Vegas three weeks later.
9. Don’t send out a post-event release.
Why bother? The team needs a break and isn’t the event over after its over?
Fix: Write the post-event release along with the other releases a few months in advance. Leave space for attendee numbers, event recaps, quotes from leaders and most important, the date and link to the next event. Then, send it out within 24 hours after the last attendee checks out.
10. Completing ignoring PR’s event marketing potential.
Does PR really have a place in event marketing? After all, you may have emails, a registration site, ads, and direct mailings going out. What can a press release/influencer relations strategy do that all those tactics can’t? Is it really worth the effort?
Fix: Corporations know that PR is one of the best marketing investments they can make. Events with great PR outperform those with none. Going PR-less dramatically reduces visibility. It’s so important to integrate PR into your event marketing plan. Can’t do it yourself? Call in a professional PR team for a consultation or a campaign that will increase visibility, target media, showcase members/attendees, fill seats and position your event as a must attend for your exact target audience.
About the author:
Barbara Rozgonyi is a frequent MPI speaker / trainer, a strategic event marketing consultant who leads the CoryWest Media team, and a member of MPI-CAC’s MarComm committee. Going to IMEX? You can catch Barbara speaking about PR on October 16. Visit Barbara’s top 50 marketing and PR blog, http://wiredPRworks.com, for tips, tools and tactics that will improve your event marketing and your results.