To host or not to host? Many clients come to you with a preconceived notion of how they want to launch a brand, a space, or their next collection. Oftentimes they conjure up dreams of large (read: expensive!) red carpets and elaborate events and then look to you to implement their vision or provide an alternative suggestion.
It’s important to take certain factors into consideration before presenting a recommendation to go forward with an activation that’s a big budget item. Sometimes funds are better allocated elsewhere and as PR professionals, we are tasked with being the bearers of bad news. Sometimes, the splashy red carpet your client envisioned for their launch isn’t necessarily be the best way to spend resources.
In a perfect world, budgets would be non-existent and the bigger the idea the better. However, as a true client advisor and communications expert, it’s always worth your time to explore both traditional and out of the box options with your client before taking a chance on an expensive event.
Sometimes, the splashy red carpet your client envisioned for their launch isn’t necessarily be the best way to spend resources.
In addition to exploring the above mentioned alternatives, one should always contemplate the below questions and arrive at honest answers to share with your client team.
Is there a draw for local press to attend and cover?
This question is particularly hard to answer when the team deliberating is composed of both clients and PR professionals. This stems from the fact that although clients are under the impression that their launch is revolutionary/the first of its kind/unparalleled, editors have most likely been pitched something similar before. Should this be the case for your particular project, a special draw at the event needs to be in place. This frequently takes the form of celebrity attendees, musical performances, regional influencer host(s) and/or access to product before launch. Do you have the budget or connections to create a truly unique event?
Can you obtain coverage by implementing other tactics at a lower cost?
These tactics can include social media campaigns, influencer seeding, intimate press previews and editor desk-sides. Think outside of the traditional PR event box: Would an intimate dinner with a key editor get your client an even better story than the one they would receive after an event? How might you simplify your clients vision to get the most value out of your efforts?
What are your client’s true reasons for hosting an event?
There is the business reason of course, but it’s worth getting to the bottom of what’s ultimately driving the desire to go big. It is truly about introducing the brand to a new market or simply “what is done,” in the industry. Is it truly about getting key executives facetime with influencers in the region or is it coming from a desire to show up a competitor? Hopefully you’ve built enough trust with your client to have a frank conversation about what’s motivating the concept.
Once you have a general sense of what tactics are best to help you attain your clients goals, it’s time to get super clear on how you will measure the success of the event. Event ROI is rarely immediate; you can’t put a price tag on executive networking and the benefits of an event can become apparent months down the line when unexpected collaborations occur.
If increasing traffic to a location and sales is the primary goal for an activation, tabulate total costs of producing the event and weigh these against potential sales. Store managers and salespeople will aid you in making accurate calculations as they can provide concise information (i.e. 1 out XX visitors provide a sale; how much the average visitor purchases). After you obtain these numbers, you can calculate how many guests need to attend in order for you to reach your sales goal and cover your event costs. Then figure out if those attendance numbers are realistic. Keep in mind that there is always a 20-30% drop off rate and that you run the risk of paying for an attendee’s food, drinks, entertainment, etc. and have that person not make any purchases. When calculating financial markers, make sure to build in padding for those types of non-purchasers.
Events can be a great way to generate a ton of positive rapport and conversation about a brand, but they can also be a money pit. Before saying yes to the event, be sure you have carefully considered how an event strategy will truly support your client.
Photo Credit: Parker Knight