I am working on the PR committee for a charity event with the Greater Chicago Food Depository (http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/), an incredible organization that helps feed not just homeless people, but hungry people in the Chicago Area and over 20 of the top steakhouses in downtown Chicago. We were all sitting at the lunch table, trying to figure out how to let people know what we were doing and just as importantly, how to get the public involved in a closed event.
I went to school for Advertising & PR and in college (and not far out of it) you tend to think that if you studied it you must know all about it. Wrong. I've been working in business a few years and learned the ropes of general corporate behavior, good administrative skills that have helped me develop better business skills combined with my avid love for The Harvard Business Review. The more I dive into different types of events, what makes a good event and how to accomplish the point of the event, the more I realize I don't know.
So needless to say it was a great learning experience to sit around a table of about 12 people with all different backgrounds, many in events & PR. It was great to see the blend of old-school tactics and the need for a modern-day approach. And some things I learned while listening to people who actually worked in PR were these things:
1.You should be generating buzz and/or recognition before, during and after your event.
2. Assess who you are trying to inform. Who is your demographic? Who should know about this? Why should they know about it?
3. How do you reach them? If the public is not directly involved or can not participate in the event then media is not going to be interested. Perhaps you can build a story out of it, but unless there's a takeaway of some kind for the public your chances for PR & Media covering a closed event may not be very high unless you have celebrities.
4. Getting coverage after the event is important (for annual events) to continue to build buzz for next year. If the post-party notes are good people will say "hey, we should go to that next year."
5. Pay attention to what works and what doesn't. Learn from the previous years, other events and remain focused on what you need to accomplish.
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