5 Steps to Create a Successful Event Partnership

Strategically partnering with other brands, especially on events, can help turn a lackluster event into a star-studded affair. Not to mention that there is power in numbers, banding together can help encourage press interest and you can combine PR efforts and share contacts for greater reach.  The occasional partnership, whether its with a local fashion magazine, a jewelry designer to accessorize your line, a fashion photographer working on her portfolio or up and coming club looking to make its name as the must-go venue, sponsorships and collaborations exposure your brand to new audiences, expand pitch opportunity and can generate additional revenue.

To begin, put together a sponsorship kit, using your press kit as a jumping off point. Include a cover letter which states the specifics of your event. Frame the letter in terms of how it benefits your potential partner – exposure, connections, are all important.

Ask yourself what would make something worthwhile to you. Make a specific ask – could be money, trade advertising, or stuff – gift bag stuffers, appetizers, video equipment and again, highlight what your sponsor will get in return. Then ask to set up a meeting to go over the particulars.

Here are some additional ideas to consider when creating brand partnerships

Most recently our firm landed a strategic partnership between our jewelry designer client and an award-winning dress designer. The dress designer was putting together a large show and needed some jewelry to go with his garments. Our jewelry client agreed to provide the jewelry for his show, and in exchange she would receive a mention on all advertising/promotional materials, as well as in press releases for the dress designer’s event. These two individuals have never worked together before, but receive a great deal of media coverage individually. Together, they’re sure to create a buzz!

1. Know what you want from the partnership before you reach out

Clearly outline what you expect and hope to gain from your partnership. If you are looking to host an event with another designer, vendor or venue, carefully consider your benefit from the alliance and also the benefit for your partner. What will you bring to the table, and what will your partner bring to the table? If the partnership is too one-sided, negotiate again. The true advantage (and purpose) of a partnership is that it is mutually beneficial.

2. Choose like-minded companies for partner or sponsor outreach

Look for companies in different business sectors that share a common target audience. Be sure that the collaboration promotes the image you desire for your fashion line and/or brand. Be creative when it comes to event locations – for instance, perhaps your fashion mixers, shows or meetings are always in an auditorium or night club – try an aquarium, a museum, or an event on the water. Be diligent and do enough exploratory research beforehand to put together a target sponsor list that makes sense and is mutually beneficial.

Make a specific ask – could be money, trade advertising, or stuff – gift bag stuffers, appetizers, video equipment and again, highlight what your sponsor will get in return. Then ask to set up a meeting to go over the particulars.

3. Consider in-kind sponsorships

It’s not always about the money – GASP! Sometimes strategic partnerships do not result in immediate monetary gain or may not involve monetary contributions. If you are looking to host an event, and a partner is willing to contribute a sound system, Emcee for the evening, flowers or food, consider the value of this type of offer.

4. Create a detailed contract – even for in-kind partnerships

Once your expectations are clearly outlined, put it down on paper for both parties to review and have on hand. Sometimes what was said is not what was heard or understood. Describing the discussed details in writing will help both parties have a foundation to work from and give each side an opportunity to clear up any possible misinterpretations. This will avoid any confusion as both sides move forward. If you are presented with a contract from your potential partner – READ IT CAREFULLY and bring up any questions or concerns you may have immediately. It doesn’t matter how well you get along, it’s ‘show-biz, not show-friends.’ If the contract/written agreement is difficult to understand, it was likely written by a lawyer so you may want to get a lawyer to review.

5. Be prepared to Negotiate partnership terms

Strive for the win-win. When looking to collaborate many will only keep their best interest in mind. This can result in misunderstandings, trust concerns and ultimately, a poor partnership. If you are expecting to take, you must be willing to give, and vice versa. Let’s say you have partnered with a lounge for a VIP clientele reception. You would like to have a full bar, but only have a wine and beer budget. You can negotiate a discount with the bar, but you may have to be open to only having name and not premium brand liquor. Are you alright with serving name brand to your VIP clients? Or would you rather ask your lounge partner to consider serving his/her best wine and beer selections? You want to partner with someone who is committed to having a successful partnership and one who is open to negotiations that are beneficial to both in the long run.

Be on the lookout for opportunities and be open to strategic partnerships because the right sponsorship or brand collaboration can make a world of difference in the success of your event.


Nancy Vaughn

Nancy Vaughn

Nancy Vaughn is an entrepreneur and principal, PR & Marketing Director of White Book Agency, a full-service public relations, marketing and special events firm, specializing in fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands. She excels at assisting media professionals and clients alike, and is called upon frequently by media outlets for her PR/business knowledge, coaching and industry connections. She leads strategic publicity and marketing campaigns for businesses across the country and her clients have been seen in/on: InStyle, New Beauty, Style.com, Forbes, Design Bureau, Luxe Interiors & Design, MSN Fitbie, E! TV, CNN Latino, Refinery 29, The New York Times, Daytime TV, Dwell and more.