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Surviving (and Loving) Event PR: Pre-Gaming

Greetings from NYC! I’m sitting in LaGuardia Airport waiting for my flight back to CMH after a successful client event which got me thinking about event PR in general … Client events are a given for most PR professionals – whether your client has several a year or just one every few years for a very special occasion – but for the unprepared publicist, they can make or break the client relationship. At this point in my career, I’ve run events in NYC, LA, DC and Toronto for clients, and I thought it would be fun to break down the

PR Event Planning

PR Event Planning

Greetings from NYC! I’m sitting in LaGuardia Airport waiting for my flight back to CMH after a successful client event which got me thinking about event PR in general …

Client events are a given for most PR professionals – whether your client has several a year or just one every few years for a very special occasion – but for the unprepared publicist, they can make or break the client relationship.

At this point in my career, I’ve run events in NYC, LA, DC and Toronto for clients, and I thought it would be fun to break down the three stages of client events. No, it’s not similar to the stages of grief (but don’t worry if you feel all those emotions too). There are three very distinct, but unavoidable, phases to every event: Pre-Event (Pre-Gaming), Day-Of (Game Day) and Post-Event (After Party).

For this first post, let’s talk Pre-Event. Your client comes to you to discuss an annual event, or a new event and they want press to cover … cool!

Step 1: Work With What You Have

If it’s a new client, check for coverage from a previous event, especially with an annual event. The press that attended in the past will most likely be more familiar with the event, and willing to talk to you about future coverage.

Similarly, if its a new event, don’t forget client media relationships. You don’t want to accidentally snub any media friends!

Step 2: Creating the Press List

Talk to your client about their expectations for the event – events can be stressful on all ends, and communication is key. Do they want press invited as guests? For coverage only? Will press be corralled in a certain spot?

Next, figure out your own list of ideal press to cover the event. After all, the client is paying *you* to be the expert here. Research, Research, Research – look at target publications, search for similar events – who has covered them in the past? Create tiers of press to invite, because, let’s face it, no matter how cool your event is (unless it’s the Oscars), you’ll probably get a few declines on your media wishlist – who else would be an ideal fit but maybe not a first choice?

Finally, go back to the client and discuss your proposed press list. Again, communication is everything. You might think a certain reporter or outlet is a no-brainer, and they may think very differently – this avoids future embarrassment if you extend an invite then have to pull back.

Step 3: Securing Pre-Event Coverage

By this point, you’ve done your due diligence, you are excited to invite press to the event, but don’t get too ahead of yourself. Before thinking of who to cover the actual event, make sure you pitch the event for pre-coverage. Especially if the event is open to the public, you’ll want to create early buzz in local papers, society mags, TV stations, trade outlets – anywhere that makes sense for your specific client.

Annnnnd … break! That’s the end of part one of my series on Event PR. Any tips you would add? Share them below, and be sure to keep checking the Belle blog for Part 2 (Game Day) and Part 3 (After Party). Happy pitching!

Heather Allen

Belle's first employee. Lover of great food, good books and spreadsheets. Mom of three. Native Floridian and city girl residing in the cornfields of central Illinois.