What’s the point?
First things first, think about why you want to hold a press event. Highlight why it can’t be done via your usual press release or a conference call, and ensure there is a newsworthy cause to guarantee interest from those you want to attend. Then set a target of how many media representatives you would like to attend. Now consider how many of those will realistically turn up. If you want journalists, bloggers, local council, businesses attending, think about the ratio of your attendees. It’s a good idea to have a goal for what coverage you want to gain from the exercise.
Timing & Catering
The time of day will depend on how you can envisage the event running. If it’s an informal briefing why not do over coffee and pastries at breakfast, or a light buffet lunch. If it’ll be a short high-profile press conference then tea, coffee, water late morning may be all you need. If you are having a launch event of your new cocktail bar to showcase your drinks menu then breakfast possibly isn’t the best time. It’s not always necessary to wine and dine attendees but a beverage of some sort is a must.
It’s important to have a budget in mind for any event, so if you’re looking to wine and dine influential media representatives then you need to know how much you can spend. You don’t have to spend a fortune, pick a time and day of the week that not only will people attend but is cost-effective for you as well. Your budget will go alongside your initial planning.
Depending on the reason behind your event, it can be a great way of gaining extra exposure by hosting the event on site at the company you are having the event for. If this just isn’t an option as you don’t have the capacity for this, then create a good relationship with a local hotel, conference centre, restaurant, wine bar, anywhere that represents your company in the best way. Venues may even agree a contra-deal and offer a discount on room hire or the catering as they will also gain media exposure from hosting the event.
As mentioned, you need to be realistic as to how many attendees you will have, you will never get 100% of the people invited come on the day, so be sure to invite more people than your ideal guest number. Do ask for confirmation that those invited are attending, you’ll need a rough idea for your caterers and venue set up (and to put your mind at rest people are actually coming!), but do leave it open to some as some people will never commit just in case something else comes up, so you don’t want to put them off by being too pushy.
For those that say they will attend and aren’t able to make it on the day, why not send a ‘sorry you couldn’t make it’ email with the press release and any info they missed, they’re still an opportunity for exposure.
Think about your audience
Who are you looking to invite, or rather, who is it that will attend? If you want a room full of newspaper journalists, then try to have a vague idea of when their deadlines are, so your event not only doesn’t clash with their deadlines, but your event will then make the deadline and hopefully your story will be covered.
It’s always a good idea to have a pack for the attendees to receive upon arrival, so they can peruse through the event and also take away all the information with them. Make sure to include your company bio, event agenda, press release (even if you think they may have already seen it), yours or your relevant media relations contact information, plus anything else you think they would need for their write up.
Unless your event is super super secret, use social media to your advantage and tweet/post about the event before, during and afterwards. Before the event, use it as a marketing tool to shout about the event and gain additional interest from journalists, bloggers etc. During the event, you could tweet/post images of the speakers and say how well it’s going. Post event you could thank people for attending, include feedback comments from attendees, the host venue, organisers, or favourite quotes from those that spoke.
For the keen tweeters, you could create a hashtag, for example, #MyEvent2013, so those that are attending, and even those that aren’t can discuss the event and see what others are saying about it, which only adds to the buzz around it.
The follow up
It’s imperative that you measure how successful the event was, so ensure you knew who turned up to the event and track what media coverage you then received as a result. After all, that was the whole point of organising the event!