The ever-evolving marketing industry has defined the PESO (Paid/Earned/Social/Owned) model as a way to categorize marketing activities in the context of our digital world. It makes sense and is an important lens through which to consider our work.
One critical element, however, always seems to be missing from the PESO model: events. As our team knows – from more than two decades planning events for 30 to 3,000 people – events are a critical form of communication. Our events team aren’t party planners – they’re communications strategists dedicated to defining our clients’ messages and creating a road map to convey those messages through events.
Messaging and positioning:
What is the theme for the event? What important messages do you want to convey to your audience? What do you want them to learn at the event? What do you want them to take away? And what does the event itself convey about your organization?
Going through an exercise to carefully define the event theme is critical to setting the agenda, and to having an impact across all aspects of the event. Are you going for “green” or “glitzy?” Is it scientific or sales-focused? Is your group an edgy startup or a conventional corporation?
Once the event’s message is defined, it’s time to develop other strategies.
Email and digital marketing:
In support of the messaging, our team develops branding for each event – a visual identity and tagline that carries through all aspects of the event. This includes setting up a customized website for event registration where attendees can view the agenda for the program and all related travel information.
Additionally, the branding and messaging is reflected in email distributions to the group membership or other attendees to introduce the event, confirm registration or follow-up emails to remind people to register.
Signage and collateral:
Onsite signage and collateral are an important way to reinforce the event messages to attendees. There are a vast array of items that can fall under this list: meter boards, step-and-repeats, directional signs, name tags, registration tables, room signs, staging, table signs, even menus.
Digital signage is an ever- expanding medium that can augment the use of traditional printed material or even take its place. It is important that all collateral remain consistent with the central theme – no matter what the delivery method.
Media relations and content:
Speaker topics or research that may be presented at the event should be considered as topics for media outreach and/or content creation. Will your group be sharing data for the first time and, if so, can you give media a preview? Is there something relevant to your theme that connects with something in the news cycle?
Also consider creating content – for your blog, for LinkedIn or on a platform like Medium – that can be shared and supported through boosted posts/paid to reach additional audiences.
Social and digital:
The event should be promoted across social channels leading up to, during and after. Establishing a social media calendar will help maintain focus on promoting the event, with a goal toward supporting attendance.
Sharing media coverage or created content will support this effort and can be further leveraged through boosted posts and digital advertising.
Consider creating an event hashtag if you have a large group or one that is very engaged in social channels. Otherwise, encourage your group to use your organization’s handle when posting during the event.
Incorporating a creative photo opportunity or “wow” factor into the live event that is relevant to the theme is another way to encourage a connection with your brand. People love to share fun and unique experiences. Give them an excuse to do while gaining social media traction.
Don’t forget to leverage the event after the fact. Create content on key learnings, share videos and photos to build excitement for next year.