It was great to receive an invitation to the Eventopedia Discovery event last week at the stunning One Horse Guards. The topic was ‘Events for PR’ and I was particularly interested in their question “Are events still an effective public relations tool?”.
Here are my thoughts.
During Jez Frampton’s ‘The Age of You’ webinar that I attended 2 weeks ago he explained that we are currently in what’s being called the ‘Age of Experience’ which is leading to the “Age of You’ and the rise of personalisation.
As we increasingly lead a more digitalised online existence, the idea of the ‘Age of Experience’ is driven by a desire for sensory experiences. Taking into consideration the millennials (the 18 – 34 group) and according to a report by JWT Intelligence, 61% say they crave experiences that stimulate their senses, 79% value experiences more than they do material things and 65% would rather spend their money on an experience than a material item.
Today’s consumers value experience above all else. This represents a huge opportunity for businesses prepared to place a new focus on meeting customer demands and I feel that public relations almost certainly have a very important role to play in this.
The Institute of Public Relations defines PR as ‘the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics’.
Public relations is an important tool because although it may not directly stimulate sales, the organisation’s image is an important factor in whether it attracts and retains employees, whether customers buy it’s products/services, whether the community supports or resists its presence and activities and whether the media reports positively on it’s operations.
The role of public relations is to get across the organisation’s message with the key aspect of developing and maintaining good relations with the media, publics and stakeholders. This is not achieved by simply sending out a press release but by a continual process of developing and maintaining contacts through a variety of medium.
Public relations can convey greater credibility than an advertising message, as it is perceived to have originated from a more independent source. CIM give one very short definition of PR as ‘The truth told well’ the absolute opposite to spin.
Many organisations may not have a formal marketing and events department but will have a communications and public relations function, and often event management will be the responsibility of PR specialists.
Public relations can use events as a way to engage people in a live sense, offering the opportunity to experience the essence of a brand whilst stimulating interest in it’s products and services and we all know events are all about the live experience!
During the Eventopedia event, Mandy Sharp of Tin Man Communications gave a fantastic keynote speech and spoke of her view on the future of events for PR having worked in the industry for 16 years.
Mandy explained that it’s all about thinking strategically but acting creatively, and that the Tin Man ethos is all about “trying to make communications human again”.
We should be connecting with our audiences emotionally and promoting emotional responses and it’s important to ensure that the content is relevant to the audience; do you really know and have an understanding of your audience?
PR events need to deliver on a number of levels but it’s most important to ask yourself if the content is news worthy, what’s the bit that’s going to inspire and capture the attention of the media and the audience, in this social media age is it going to be shared? We should be creating social content that encourages engagement and that people will go away and talk about as Mandy said “make it shareable, make it visual, make it tweetable” and remember “people will only share things that are great, not good!”.
Mandy explained that we should also consider that things don’t happen immediately so it’s equally important to keep those communication channels open with your audience long after the event has finished in the weeks and months that follow, keeping your brand, product or service in the media and the public eye with a clear consistent message.
The spectrum of public relations is increasing all the time. In an era where there is little discernible difference between products and services, it is often the customer’s perception of the corporate personality which PR seeks to create that offers the differentiation point.
Did the Eventopedia event answer the question ‘are events still an effective PR tool?’. I think in our ‘Age of Experience’ and with the rise of social media and demand for stimulating, shareable content, public relations events are one of the most powerful and engaging mediums of communication.
I’ll leave you with a thought that Mandy shared with us:
Another great event Eventopedia! Until next time #Eventprofs…