Quality or Quantity: What Defines a Successful Media Event?

Photograph by Dan Goodrich
Photograph by Dan Goodrich

After much planning and coordination, I recently had the opportunity to attend my first on-site media event. This particular event, held in conjunction with a major education technology conference, proved the perfect time to bring our client face-to-face with important media contacts and influencers to educate, exchange ideas and simply get to know one another.

While all events differ due to budget and other factors, as I reflect on my experience, I realize the number of attendees or the glitz and glam don’t define the success of a media event. Rather, understanding the goals upfront and personalizing the experience every step of the way will make an impact every time.

Here’s a glimpse into how our team delivered on this approach.

Before the Event

Many conference registrants were slammed with “open invitations” to receptions, parties and networking events. We took a different tack, which gave our event an exclusive feel. Instead of simply blasting emails to conference attendees or using hashtags to invite the Twitterverse, we personally designed and delivered email invitations. We also customized tweets and engaged with select individuals. Not only did this approach reflect a more human touch, but it allowed us to convey our genuine excitement about the prospect of meeting some of these individuals in person for the first time. We made it clear that we wanted them there and explained why it was a valuable use of their time, despite the many other events happening in the vicinity.

During the Event

When individuals walked through the door, each member of our team instantly knew each attendee and expressed our enthusiasm for their joining us. Most, if not all, had been tweeting throughout the conference, which gave us a good foundation to start a personal conversation. They knew they were on our radar, and that we genuinely wanted to learn more about how we can help them. In other words, we weren’t pushing our agenda. Once inside, we made rounds so all members of our team had the chance to talk to each attendee and learn more about their current projects and biggest challenges, as well as some fun banter. For instance, a casual conversation between my colleague and a journalist led to an entire new section idea for the journalist’s outlet, which will now include a spotlight of our client in the section’s first article.

After the Event

Once the event concluded, the follow-up was handled as carefully as the initial outreach. Our team made sure to re-connect with everyone who attended, thanking them for their time and picking up on conversations from the event. We also reached out to those who were unable to attend, offering them the opportunity to meet with our client at another place and time.

It’s increasingly difficult to find opportunities to chat with the media or industry influencers in person. Recently, my colleague spoke to a prominent reporter who conveyed that no one calls him on the phone anymore. This simple statement reminds me that we often forget that journalists are humans, too; they have good and bad days just like the rest of us. Ultimately, by acknowledging this fact and personalizing a simple conversation, public relations professionals can achieve great success for their clients.

Fortunately, building relationships and going the extra mile comes easily to the best PR practitioners. Whether it’s taking the time to learn more about who a journalist is outside of the office or simply acknowledging the individual with his or her name, it is clear that quality matters more than quantity.

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