Versatility. Style. Fit. Quality. Reliability. According to mdg’s public relations strategist, Kate Blom-Lowery, the characteristics that make for a great pair of shoes also apply to a strong public-relations campaign. While there’s room in an event marketing plan for the standard press release and reputation management tactics (just like any well-rounded closet includes classic black pumps or Italian leather wingtips), it’s becoming increasingly important to stay on top of trends that are at the height of PR fashion. Here are a few:
Create your own news — Be the gladiator sandal in a world of flip-flops! A strong content strategy allows you to be more forward-thinking in your approach. Go beyond communications that simply announce next year’s show dates, location, and/or speakers and weave in content about the trends that are shaping the industry for the year ahead. For example, if a workforce shortage is impacting your members or attendees, create a blog about how your organization is addressing the challenge. Is robotic technology changing your attendees’ manufacturing plants? Write a story about the exhibiting suppliers that are making that transformation possible and link to it on social channels. Claim your rightful place as a thought leader and reliable media source by engaging in the bigger stories.
Captivate influencers — Just like there are trendsetting fashion influencers who have large followings on social media, there are likely influencers — speakers, members of the media, bloggers, and bellwether attendees and/or exhibitors — who hold sway over your audience. Develop meaningful ways to engage with them, via interviews, storytelling, social-media takeovers, partners in promotion programs, revenue sharing, or other innovative tactics. One mdg client made a preeminent industry influencer the headlining host of the entire conference. Another client engaged a leading woman manufacturer to share her show-floor experiences using the event hashtag.
Use social media like a pop of color — Like colorful laces in a pair of men’s dress shoes, social media can be the extra touch that sets a public-relations campaign apart. According to Pew Research Center, 68 percent of U.S. adults get their news from social media. Social is a quick way of disseminating information and can generate thousands of impressions. Journalists, bloggers, and freelancers are looking for story ideas or engaging in emerging storylines in the social-media trenches.
Walk in someone else’s shoes — Storytelling is a powerful way to engage an audience. Unlike a standard testimonial quote that speaks to the event itself, a story can tell an audience about what happened after the event, when the attendee applied the content to his or her business. They are more compelling to read when they include visuals, like photos, pull-quotes, and infographics. And, in my opinion, there’s no better medium for a good story than video.
Read the Forbes article, “How Social Media Is Changing the Face of PR.”
Made to Order
In today’s highly competitive market, data assets like membership information, event registration data, session data, and post-event surveys can help you identify what messages will resonate and which audience to target. Use that data to inform topic selection and optimally time releases to most effectively reach your audience. For instance, if you discover your event’s most-attended sessions dealt with retail trends, craft PR messages that emphasize where to find more on that topic on the show floor and at future points in your show cycle.