Learning by Doing: How to Plan a Successful PR Event

Public Relations (PR), as defined by omniscient Wikipedia, “concerns enhancing and maintaining the image” of individuals, events, and organizations. Running a PR event can be a fun and effective way to reach potential customers and to inform your community about who you are and what you do as a company, as well as communicating your mission and personality. It is also a lot of work, and takes valuable time away from other commitments. So how do you efficiently host an event that is enjoyable and worthwhile for all parties?

Creative Commons image courtesy of Flickr's doktor spinn

Determine your goal:

Yes you’re enhancing your image, but who are you trying to reach and what are you hoping to take away from the event? If you’re part of a new company, perhaps you want to let people know that you’re around, if you are a restaurant that just completely revamped your menu, maybe you want to get people excited about the new dishes you’re offering. Determine your message and its recipient.


Whether your event is big or small, set up a calender to track when you will execute each part of your plan… and leave yourself plenty of time! It’s likely that you’ll need a venue, entertainment, and refreshments. This can add up quickly, so construct a realistic budget that includes a buffer for any unforeseen costs that might pop up in the process. We compiled a list of who we would invite, and what we would need for both our food and décor, as well as set-up (tables, chairs, etc.).

Find a balance, offer value:

The event should be as attractive as possible to attendees, and should appeal to them on both a personal and professional level. Keep your target group in mind; are the attendees close by or far away? How much advance notice will they require? Should the setting be formal or informal? Empathize with your customer and make your event appealing and convenient for them. To maximize participation try to ensure that from your guest’s perspective your event costs little in time and effort, and offers a large reward.

Inform, don’t sell:

The goal of a PR event should be to let people know that you are a major presence. There are ways to communicate your expertise and professionalism without reverting to a hard sell (we chose to offer a brief presentation on how local businesses could increase their social media presence and why doing so was important) what knowledge do you have that could be useful to your customers?

It’s likely that just by inviting people you will create some interest and invite questions about your company.

Market the event:

Even when you are offering an interesting event with inherent value, it’s difficult to convince people to take time out of their busy schedules. It’s likely that you’ll have to remind them several times, since you want to give them time to plan around attendance without leaving enough time for them to forget about it.

Some tips:

Fliers alone are easy to overlook. Creative Commons image courtesy of ElizalO

-Although posters and fliers can be effective, they’re easy to ignore. If you are inviting businesses, try dropping by the office to make an impression.

-Send a friendly reminder the day of.

-Offer directions! You’d be surprised how many people will choose not to participate simply because they don’t want to go through the trouble of figuring out where you are.

-Be memorable: Find a way to invite people that is both creative and eye-catching. It sparks enthusiasm and it’s a great way to show potential customers that you are innovative and unique.

Have a good time:

Rather than focusing all your energy on trying to sell, connect with customers on a personal level. A great conversation can work wonders; participants will take that positive impression with them when they leave.

Creative Commons image courtesy of BFI Salzburg (Flickr)

Do you have any other insights about what makes a PR event effective? Leave a comment below!

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