I seem to have spent a lot of time recently organising launch events for clients. Reflecting on the way home from one such event I thought it would be useful to put together some basic ground rules for organising media and/or stakeholder events.
As a communications tool events have the potential to engage and connect with audiences, but this effectiveness needs to be harnesed in a positive way.
Launch events can set the tone for the communications programme that follows, and can affect how the subsequent coverage that your product or service gets.
So here are my top tips for organising successful events as a communicator:
Know what the event is for, and make sure your clients do too. It may sound really obvious, but an event without a clear and agreed purpose is one that will almost certainly disappoint someone.
Plan the flow of the event as if you were an attendee. Think about what information people will need to be happy throughout the event. Think about when journalists will want press packs or interview opportunities. Consider creating common talking points (eg some exhibition boards) if you have many guests who haven’t met previously.
Get help. Unless you are running a very small event, having people to help and act as runners will alow you to keep an eye on how the event is running, rather than getting tied up in the detail.
Ensure all guests are met on arrival. Station as many helpers as you need to at the door to welcome guests, direct them as necessary, and answer any questions they may have. Brief your helpers to find you if any of you VIP guests arrive, so you camn greet them personally.
Give everyone a name badge when they arrive. It makes life easier for you and your guests.
Meet all your speakers and other participants beforehand. Know how good their public speaking is, and give them a role to suit.
Keep speakers on message. Give them a crib sheet that summarises key messages, provides supporting information and highlights any potentially tricky areas.
Practice and rehearse If you anticipate difficult media questions, commission a freelance journalist to run a rehearsal for your spokespeople and ask them to be as aggressive and probing as possible.
Ensure the basics are right for the media. Provide suitable spaces and resources (eg power, wi-fi, ISDN, seats, space for vehicles). Making things simpler will improve your chances of getting good coverage.
Have a photographer working for you. Brief him to get a wide range of press shots that you can offer to the media afterwards, along with news release write-up.
Consider also offering audio and video content if you think your media audience may use it.
Follow-up to consolidate relationships. Whether by phone or email, make sure you thank people for attending, and find out if they need any more information or have any other questions.
I hope these are useful. Any more tips please add them as comments – I’m always looking for ways to improve my events/launches.