Anatomy of an Event

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As PR professionals, we often take a deep dive into events – that can include everything from a community fair, to a public product launch, to a gala, and everything in between. However, events aren’t just about fancy tablecloths and sweet swag. It takes a lot to pull off a successful event, especially when media are invited to attend it. Here are some things to keep in mind.THE HEAD

  • There is no one size fits all event. Before jumping in, consider what your client’s or company’s goals are. Then, hold a comprehensive brainstorming session with your team to get creative while keeping in mind how you can best attain these goals.
  • Once you’ve landed on the event concept that you’re most excited about, start to think about the Who, What, Where, When and Why and get organized.
  • Who will attend? Who does the event benefit? Are you inviting stakeholders, the media, consumers, or employees?
  • What will the event consist of? What is the look and feel? What is the budget?
  • Where will your event take place? This is the fun part – venue hunting! Consider a location that’s accessible to all invitees.
  • When will your event take place? Think about the time of day that’s most convenient to potential attendees. With media, pick a time that they’ll be able to leave the office easily (e.g. not at 10 a.m.) that won’t bleed too into their personal time (e.g. do you really want to host on a Saturday?).
  • Why will people be excited to come? Make sure your idea is inclusive of elements that will be appealing to all attendees.


  • Just like there is no one size fits all event, there is no one size fits all team. Build a team who can plan and support your event based on your goals, and keep in mind everyone’s strengths so you can leverage them. Once your crew is in place, delegate elements with one to two project managers overseeing the holistic process.
  • Think through your ideas in detail including the logistics and budget. Develop a detailed work back plan listing activities owners, and include target dates, deadlines, expectations and cost estimates. Continue to update the work back plan as you go.
  • If media will be attending your event, make some additional considerations:
  • Besides consumers, media need time in advance to RSVP – give them 3-4 weeks (slightly shorter if your event will include breaking news that they’ll need)
  • Think about a media-specific check in so you can ensure reporters get the relevant information and are introduced to key company personnel
  • Can the invited reporters bring a professional or personal +1? This is often an effective way to spur additional attendance
  • What are the media takeaways? Consider what swag, USBs, images, etcetera
  • Are you inviting influencers? You’ll target them for different types of events than traditional media. At the recent PRSA Social Media Summit I attended in Boston, keynote speaker Deirdre Breakenridge categorized influencers as such: Simple Sharer, Amplifier, Social Connector, Cheerleader, Endorser/Reviewer. Of these, who has the best tone and voice to capture your event story?
  • If you are targeting consumers, consider what digital advertising or marketing efforts could drive people to the event. Things like geotargeting, mobile ads and social ads all allow you to reach your core audience (and measure who saw the information). According to Tap Influence, influencer marketing content delivers 11 x higher ROI that traditional forms of digital marketing, so how will they potentially promote you over their social channels?
  • Also get a plan in place for organic social content to pre-promote the event and capture it happening live. Remember, Instagram stories are now outperforming static content and few brands perform well on Snapchat – what will work best for your goals?
  • If you are sending out any written or digital collateral, or have event signage, have multiple proofers! It’s costly and frustrating catching a mistake after things are already printed.
  • Make sure your work back plan includes contact information for all team members and vendors supporting the event so you’re ready to handle last minute hiccups as needed.


  • Have copies of your work back plan on-site. By this point, you’ve accounted for all possible scenarios, but make sure you’ve appointed team members on-site responsibilities just in case any adjustments need to be made. This is particularly relevant when media is involved, as they are often subject to changing needs based on the last-minute nature of their business.
  • Encourage people while the event is taking place to share images over social media, tagging your clients and relevant hashtags (which attendees should also get in advance).
  • Make sure to close out an event by thanking all the guests for their participation, and if media have attended, offer them your business card (and get theirs) for follow up.
  • Within 1-2 days of the event – after you’ve recovered, events are hard work! – host a debriefing with your client and/or team. This will allow you to determine what went well and what could have been improved. Also make sure you measure against the goals you set out. Consider the volume of social traffic, attendance, media coverage, budget depleted, data collected and more.

Remember, just like creating a media pitch, an event is also a way to tell your brand’s story. Make sure it is an experience everyone will remember in a positive light.Julie StaadeckerAccount Director [cta]

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