A few years ago, I offered counsel to a suburban Chicago company that was eager to build a public relations-and-marketing campaign around one big, blowout event in the city.
But there was one big, blowout problem, as I saw it then and see it even more clearly today. Without a high-profile celebrity or some other dominant news hook that would command no-doubt-about-it attention, there were too many competing elements that threatened to sabotage their grand idea for attracting an audience (of prospective clients and media outlets).
Here are only a few of the potential pitfalls:
Unanticipated news developments. Every hour, let alone each day, brings a new wave of news. Meanwhile, grandiose events as this company envisioned demand weeks, if not months, of advance planning. So media, especially television, will show up only if nothing else surfaces to topple your news. A lot can happen between your best-laid plans and the time for that ribbon-cutting, breath-taking product announcement or strategically timed seminar.
Bad weather. Like its negative impact on funeral attendance (now that’s a sobering thought), inclement weather can rain on your PR parade. You’ve got to respect the power of Mother Nature. Have you weather-proofed your event so far along on the calendar?
Beyond the risk of having an event that fizzles, for these or a slew of other reasons, there’s an operational reality that you must address. By taking on the myriad details that inevitably accompany the planning for a big event, you diminish resources that would otherwise go toward effectively operating your business.
Along the way, as your focus shifts to this Promised Land of PR Events, you may even reduce the day-to-day benefits that flow from connecting with prospective clients.
It takes significant time and money to plan and then execute a public event, from the cost of renting hotel or conference space, advertising the affair and related fees like a catering bill (if you want to pull in people, often you’ve got to think about feeding them).
So what’s the alternative? Rather than put all your eggs in a time-and-place basket, strongly consider holding multiple, smaller events throughout the region.
Each event would provide an opportunity for localized media coverage for pre-event and post-event publicity, as well as coverage of the event itself. In addition, having smaller events dispersed throughout the area would make it more convenient for a larger pool of prospects to attend.
Just as we don’t gorge on one meal a day, then proceed to starve ourselves till our next feeding at the trough, beware of public relations whose success hinges on getting people to a given place at a pre-appointed time.
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