I love going to events – especially press and blogger ones. What is not to love? Finding out about a new product, meeting likeminded people at a swanky location, tasting great food and quaffing free Prosecco. However, organising events is a totally different experience, if done correctly it can be great exposure for you and your brand but if it is not done well it can be detrimental and not to mention embarrassing. Add brands and bloggers and Social Media Influencers into the mix and it can get a bit stressful. So how do you organise a successful event that keeps everyone happy? This is my guide on how to work with brands when you are planning events
What is the point of the event?
First of all decide exactly what you hope to get out of the event and how you want your audience to feel when they leave. What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to create awareness about a new brand or launch? Share some expertise? Bring people together?
What sort of event?
What will the event be like? Will it be a sit down event with a panel discussion? Will it be more intimate with a small number of people seated around tables? Or will everyone be standing? Also bear in mind the service level that the venue offers you. Some just offer you the space and that is it so you will need to physically get the space ready.
On the other hand some venues are 100% hands on and will do it all for you. Also find out what time you can access the room before the event starts. I would also find out what your obligations are when the event is over – do you have to tidy up after or is that the venue’s responsibility?
Where will it take place?
This is crucial. This will all depend on your budget. Obviously the more central the venue is the better but there are some venues just off the beaten track that will work well. If you have good contacts you could look into getting a venue partner aka a venue that will let you use their space for free in return for the coverage.
How many people?
Decide how many people you would like to cater for and bear in mind that there is normally a 20% cancellation rate on the day. I would bear that in mind when you are sending out your invites and add a buffer in case people drop out. Also take into consideration that your speakers might want to bring someone along with them like their PR or a rep from the brand. Plus if you are lucky to get venue sponsorship then the sponsor might require a space for someone from their brand.
What day and time?
I would advise that you find out what start time is more convenient for your attendees. Most bloggers work during the day so evening events work best.. For instance our event started at 6.30pm but some of our attendees said they struggled to get their for that time from work so a 7pm would have been much better. What you could do is have an ‘early bird’ hour where those who finish work around 5pm can come straight in for drinks and networking and then start the main session after.
In terms of days we avoid Mondays (it’s just not for us) and Fridays are a no no because that is when people go out for drinks with friends or work colleagues. We stay well clear of weekends because we see that as family time and it has to be something really special for someone to give up their weekend. We tend to go for Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Promotion, promotion and more promotion
You can never overdo it where marketing is concerned so my advice is to just go for it. Use all the resources you have at your disposal. The platforms we used to promote our event were Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and our mailing list.
We used Eventbrite for our event which was great because we placed all the information about the event on that platform for everyone to see. That way you would come on to the radar of other like minded people.
One of the perks of Eventbrite is that you will be alerted every time someone books a place for the event, we could send emails from there, store all our contacts and send out all the tickets. Eventbrite also allows you to have a waiting list so if your event is full before the date and there is a cancellation you can open up the space to people on the wait list.
Communication with your attendees and speakers
We tried to give our attendees as much information about the event. So that meant an acknowledgement email as soon as they had booked a place, an email a week before the event took place and an email one day before. It might be a good idea to include the timeline of your event in the email so your attendees can plan their timings.
You can use that email to let your guests know the hashtag for the event as well as the wifi details. If you having a speaker(s) at the event then it is vital to keep them informed at all times. Make sure they know the address for the venue, the timings.
It’s always nice to give your guests something to leave the event with – this is a nice have for your attendees but not essential. So how do you go about convincing brands to give you products to place in your goodie bags? I would say start with the brands you have worked with before – if they know you then that would be a hot prospect.
If you feel that a brand is aligned with your event then feel free to send across an introductory email describing your event. Don’t forget to tell them what they will get out if it. Coverage on your website, Social Media platforms, flyers in the goodie bag?
Some brands will say no but don’t get despondent, for every no there will be a yes. Some brands will be delighted to have their products in your goodie bag. Some brands will ask you for the guest list before they make a decision. It is entirely up to you if you wish to do this.
Once the brands have agreed to send you the products you have asked for you need to decide where you would like them to be sent to. Some venues are happy for you to send stuff to them ahead of the event but do make sure that they are set up for this.
The last thing you want is to be hunting down boxes on the day you are setting up. Alternatively you could just arrange for all the products to be delivered to your home if you have the space.
Then there is transportation to think of – if you have a car that is fine but I don’t so I just took an Uber to the venue. It was a bit pricey but well worth it as I knew I had all the products with me so that gave me piece of mind. Also you need to consider things like parking. Is there any on site? If not where is the nearest parking place?
Photography and filming
I would advise that you allocate this well before the actual day. Allocate one person to take the pictures and if you are able to get someone to film it for you. I would also ask someone to do the Instagram Live for you as well.
Before the day
Do as much prep as you can before the day. I stuffed all my goodie bags at home and then put them in the Uber with me. This saved a lot of time and hassle and also meant I did not have to worry about disposing of numerous large boxes at the venue.
On the day
Events very rarely go perfectly so prepare yourself for a few mini dramas. Also make sure you have the Eventbrite app on your phone because that will be your best friend. I had a few cancellations on the day so I was able to open it up to people on the waiting list.
Keep your phone with you because you will get last minute questions. Don’t forget to bring your guest list, pens and paper, phone chargers and feedback forms. I would get to the venue as early as you possibly can to prepare for the event. You might want to use this time to take pictures of the venue, goodie bags, products, snacks and beverages so you can use them later.
Get someone you trust to tick people off and guard the guest list with your life. You will need that so you know exactly who attended so you can send them a thank you email later. Don’t forget to encourage people to fill in the feedback forms. It’s always nice to give your speakers a gift for taking time out of their busy day to speak at your event.
After the event
Send all attendees a thank you email and if you did not hand out feedback forms you can get people to fill one in online. I used Survey Monkey. Send an email to the speakers who took part as well as the brands who donated products for the goodie bag. Also make sure you have fulfilled your obligations with the brands and done exactly what you said you would aka Social Media coverage and blog post.
Then pour yourself a large glass of wine and pat yourself on the back till the next event comes along. 🙂
I hope you found that useful, if you have any questions please feel free to drop a line below.