Public relations’ role in event planning

We often discuss the differences among marketing, advertising and PR, but event planning can fall in the gray areas in between disciplines. It’s a skill that isn’t on every PR professional’s resume. However, at OPR, we’re fortunate to have a great deal of experience planning several types of events. Whether it’s a speaking engagement, grand opening, golf tournament or fundraiser, we have the expertise necessary to execute a successful event for you and your constituents.

Other than a to-do list, a PR strategy is crucial to pre-event success. Here are a few tips from our party-planning pros.

Create a timeline

When it comes to planning an event, it’s important to create a schedule and stick to it. It can be easy to fall behind while you’re securing a location, booking vendors, designing save the dates or invitations…the list goes on. However, taking a step back to view your event from an overarching perspective can help you work through the weeds and make sure all tasks are completed. No one wants to forget glassware at a gala or giveaways at a grand opening!

You can include your PR strategy in this document, as well. We recommend making tasks for notifying the media, posting on social media, running advertisements and executing internal communications.

Identify your target audience

No matter if you’re a nonprofit, day care or business-to-business service, you know the importance of reaching your target audience. The same principle applies here. Conduct research to determine which publication would best fit your event based on their readers and your desired attendees. For example, if you’re hosting a fall festival, finding an outlet that targets families with children would be an easy way to get in front of your target audience. With some research, you’re bound to find a media source with an audience that matches yours!

Develop messaging

As PR professionals, we know content is key to promoting your event. This can include social media posts, enewsletters, mailed invitations, etc. Additionally, there are some items that PR pros can tackle effectively and efficiently, such as a news release. Thanks to media connections and familiarity with media writing, having a PR pro on your event staff can take the pressure off when it comes to locating the appropriate person to pitch, crafting a formatted release and submitting to the media with enough turnaround time.

Be prepared

In event planning, there are inevitably some hiccups along the way. Discussing and preparing for the improbable can make or break your event. For example, an outside event always needs a detailed inclement weather plan to avoid cancellation. But there are other things to watch out for. Caterers can cancel last minute, speakers could become sick and sound systems may not work minutes before an event is about to begin. Having these failsafes in place is crucial to ensure no matter what happens, your event will go off without a hitch.