“We’re hosting an event. Will you come?” – Client
A seemingly easy question, with a not-so-easy-answer. Yes, getting out of the office to attend a client event may seem like a welcomed change, but it could also lead to headaches down the road if you’re not thinking about the event strategically.
So, before you say yes, consider these four questions:
Will your presence add value, particularly in terms of public relations?
Not all events are created equal. Before you commit to attending a client’s event, understand why they’re hosting the event in the first place. Are they making a big company announcement? Is it an event for their own customers, or is it open to the public? Will media be attending? Even if there is big company news, is it necessary for you to attend to learn more about it, or could you just as easily be exposed to the information via email or a phone call? Make sure that, somehow, your presence can map back to the PR goals you’ve established. Otherwise, it’s probably a waste of your time and the client’s money.
What’s your role at the event?
You’ve done your due diligence and recognize that it is valuable to attend the event. Now you need to ensure that you and the client are fully aligned on what you’ll be doing while you’re there. If they want you to take over their social media channels, agree on the number and frequency of posts. If you’ll be interviewing their customers, discuss how many you plan to speak to and what the outcomes of those conversations will be. If you’re manning a press room solo, when can you take breaks? Establish goals and metrics where appropriate. By agreeing on everything upfront, you can avoid awkwardly wandering around looking for things to do, and more importantly, your client being annoyed that you’re not helping out sufficiently.
How will your client pay for your presence?
Depending on your role, this piece may best be left for your account lead to discuss with the client, but it is an important conversation. Several days at an event can blow a budget out of the water, so make sure your client understands if and how it will affect other ongoing PR activities. Also, clearly outline what the client will be charged for in relation to the event (travel to and from, lodging, etc.). Nothing can sour a good relationship like a surprise bill.
What can you do to prepare for the event?
Do as much as possible to prepare ahead of the event. If you’ll be interviewing customers, set them up beforehand. Draft the questions that you’ll be using in advance as well. If there will be concurrent sessions, plan your schedule so you know where you should be and when you should be there. And run everything by your client to make sure that you are both aligned on your plans.
Despite asking yourself these questions and doing all you can to prepare, remember that it’s a live event, and that means that the unexpected will almost certainly happen. When things go off course, work with your client to re-prioritize your goals and tactics, so that no matter what, both can agree that having your support at the event was a success!
Senior Marketing Analyst