Lessons From Boston TechJam: Tips for Event PR

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On June 12, I had one of my best nights of sleep in a long time. We had just wrapped up year two of Boston TechJam, Boston’s tech block party and innovation festival.

Thanks to a relationship with the co-founders, SHIFT is a founding collaborator and has run PR efforts for the events both years.

This was my first gig with event PR and, while I love me some enterprise tech, boy was it fun. It was a breath of fresh air to promote a community celebration. Here are some PR takeaways (from an event newbie) that helped make the event such a success:

  • Create a rolling thunder. We got the initial download on the event two months in advance. The first thing we did was create our announcement schedule. We started slow with the first press release seven weeks out to create an initial wave of coverage and rally event registrants. The next releases, two and one week out, built excitement and captured attendees who weren’t ready to commit as far in advance. This approach helped us shut registration down early!
  • Be prepared for last minute logistics. It’s hard to write a press release or pitch when few details are confirmed, but I quickly learned that event information is generally only ready to be announced in the nick of time. Then you have to run through approvals. Expect and plan for this. Write releases and pitches well before information is available and leave placeholders for pending details. Set yourself up to be able to get announcements out the door as soon as details are locked down.
  • Give something to everyone. The local media landscape is limited to a handful of competitive outlets. Luckily, Boston reporters and bloggers wanted to bring awareness to the event because of its mission. Even so, we offered different reporters different nuggets of information, slicing and dicing information to make it exclusive. This helped the media give their audiences something unique and helped us expand the volume of coverage we were able to achieve.    
  • Don’t just promote (or rely on) yourself. In events, you’ve got sponsors, speakers, exhibitors and others promoting their involvement. Leverage them as part of your content. Ask companies to supply tweets about what they’re doing. Show off the personalities that make the event unique.For example, when Boston TechJam was on NECN, we brought one of our startup pitch contenders to speak alongside the event co-founder. By sharing the media wealth, we were able to hint at some of the cool things attendees could expect. Side note: This works in B2B, too. Some of my best hits happen when I think beyond my own client to create a trend.
  • Think beyond media. Event PR isn’t only about getting glowing coverage about the event. It’s also about making sure attendees have a good time. You need to be able to tell a story and communicate logistics. Think about what channels (email, social, your website, media coverage) each should be done through and over-communicate to ensure attendees have a good time, get what they came for and come back next year.
  • Take Things into Your Own Hands. In event PR there’s a lot you’ll need from others: quotes, logos, approvals, etc. Everyone has a unique role in making the event happen, but you should be prepared to step into any of these roles at any moment. For example, I knew that a few reporters planned to write recaps and that live photos were an important asset. We had photographers, but rather than chancing how quickly I could get the pictures, I took my own and shared them the evening of the event. They were used in two recap pieces.

Aside from the tactical elements, it was all about being flexibility, making yourself available and then enjoying the event. What event PR tips do you have to add?

Sarah Borup
Account Manager

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Posted on June 26, 2014 in Community, Guest Post, Public Relations

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