People sitting around a table eating

How To Do PR for an Event

Let’s talk about PR for events.

You’re preparing to host the event of the century. You’ve secured a show-stopping venue, top-notch cuisine, and a panel of world-class speakers.

All you need to do now is sit back and wait for the RSVPs to roll in, right?

Wrong. Planning your event is only half the battle. Once you’ve nailed down the details, you need to fill the room. But this is easier said than done.

1.3 million business events take place in the UK each year. And that’s a whole lot of brands jostling for consumers’ attention.

If you want to cut through the noise and get publicity for your events, you need to bring out the big guns.

Enter event PR.

Event public relations is a set of strategies you can use to spread the word, generate buzz, and attract media attention and it’s a sure-fire way to pack your venue with the people that matter.

But how can you use PR to set your event up for success? Here are a few events PR ideas to get you started.

How to get publicity for an event: Alert the press

Women wearing rings typing press release

Whether you’re exhibiting at a trade show, hosting a product launch, or boosting your CSR credentials with a charity fundraiser, you want it to hit the headlines. But it’s not going to happen if journos don’t know about it.

So the first task on your event publicity checklist is to hit them with a kick-ass press release.

Coverage in a reputable publication will go a long way to maxing out your event. And the third-party credibility boost will help you secure sponsors and speakers.

But writing a release is one thing. Getting it read is another. Reporters receive hundreds of releases every day. If yours doesn’t pique their interest, it’ll be consigned to the recycle bin.

To maximise your chances of coverage, be sure to:

Nail the headline

The headline is the first thing journos will see, so it needs to hit them between the eyes.

If it’s boring, waffly, or lacks a juicy news angle, it won’t see the light of day.

If in doubt, you’re aiming for something like this: ‘Brothers to brave Atlantic Ocean in row for skin cancer research’.

It’s short, intriguing, and summarises the event in eleven words. Job done.

Keep it short

‘Lengthy’ press releases are one of journalists top pet peeves, according to a survey by Muck Rack.

So cut the waffle.

Aim for 300-400 words and follow the inverted pyramid style of writing: Lead with the most important information – what, who, when, where, and why – followed by supporting details and your contact information.

Flag your USPs

Journos will cover your event if it’s worth covering. So give them a juicy news angle. Are you celebrating a company milestone at the event? Will you be making a ground-breaking announcement? Have you got an influencer on board?

Get your USPs in the release. And include a quote. A few words from a reputable industry leader will add a ton of credibility to your pitch.

Get this bit right and journos will be chomping at the bit to attend.

Provide resources

Reporters work to tight deadlines. If they spot a story in your release but have to chase you for more information, you could miss out on valuable coverage. Make their lives easier by providing a link to your website and digital press kit.

A word of warning

Firing off your event press release to every publication under the sun is a sure-fire way to irritate journos. And it’s a waste of your time.

Focus on publications and bloggers that serve your industry. And aim for a mix of local and national, print, and online coverage to ensure your event reaches a wide audience.

For more on crafting a killer event press release, read: How to Write a Press Release for an Event

Create social buzz

Women laughing with one wearing a hat

Once you’ve hit up the press, it’s time to generate some buzz of your own. Considering 62.3% of the global population is on social media, that’s the place to do it.

From teaser campaigns to branded competitions, there are loads of ways to build hype on your socials.

But we can’t cover them all. So for this post, we’re honing in on two top tactics.

Generate FOMO

FOMO, or ‘fear of missing out’ is more than a hashtag. It’s a psychological phenomenon that’s rooted in our innate desire to belong and not miss out on valuable experiences.

And it’s a powerful driver of consumer behaviour. According to TrustPulse, 60% of us make reactive purchases driven by FOMO. And 39% of us consider it a major factor when deciding which events to attend.

So, leveraging it to pack out your venue is a no brainer. But how can you induce FOMO in the masses? In a word, urgency.

As Salman Rahman writes in a Prooflander article, ‘urgency is a powerful psychological trigger that motivates people to take action quickly. It creates a sense of scarcity, fear of missing out, and excitement that can boost your sales and conversions.’

A sales boost is exactly what you want. And there’s one sure-fire way to trigger urgency: a time-limited offer.

Whether it’s a flash sale, bundle deal, or a seasonal promotion, limited time offers work a treat as we’re hardwired to seek out bargains.

Bargain hunting

Money coach Kel Galavan explains the science in a Stellar article: ‘finding a bargain activates the reward centre in our brains. The release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, gives us a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.’

What does this tell us? Offer people a juicy discount for a limited amount of time and they’ve got a compelling reason to act quickly.

Here are a few ways you can leverage them:

  • Are people paying for the event? Launch with an early bird rate. A ‘one-week only’ 20% discount is a guaranteed way to kickstart sales and reward eager attendees.
  • If your event is free, incentivise early birds with a giveaway. Whether it’s a free trial of your product, or access to exclusive event content, give them something valuable and sign-ups will soar.
  • Got seats to fill the day before the event? Run a 24-hour, half-price sale. It’s a sure-fire way to convince procrastinators to open their wallets.
  • Want to ramp up the FOMO factor? Stick a countdown timer on your socials to remind people how much time they have left to bag a deal. Nothing prompts action like a ticking clock.

Tip: If you want to catch those few peeps that aren’t on social media, supplement your efforts with a FOMO email campaign.

Utilise social proof

Whether you know it as ‘herd mentality’ or ‘the wisdom of the crowd’, social proof refers to our innate tendency to make decisions based on the actions and opinions of others.

It’s the reason we check out TripAdvisor before booking a hotel. Or consult TrustPilot before buying a product from an unfamiliar brand.

In fact, 90% of us consider reviews when making a purchase decision, according to Power Reviews. So incorporating it into your event promotion is a savvy move.

Let social proof do the talking

If you’re PR smart, you’ll have a bank of glowing testimonials, media coverage, and user generated content from your last event.

Dig them out and drip feed them on your socials in the lead-up to the big day. The third-party endorsement will fuel FOMO and boost the credibility of your event.

If in doubt, you’re looking for reviews like these from E-Tourism Frontiers’ 2013 annual summit.

Event feedback

Tip: Want to make your digital PR work harder?

Come up with a pithy event hashtag. And use it to generate engagement by:

  • monitoring and responding to pre-event chatter
  • engaging with attendees
  • sharing behind-the-scenes content
  • running a hashtag competition. Want some inspiration? Look at what Coca-Cola did with #shareacoke.

According to marketing guru Praveen Varma, if you use your hashtag consistently and encourage your speakers and sponsors to do the same, it could boost the visibility of your event by up to 50%. #eventPRwin

Want to deep dive into hashtags and event PR? Business strategies advisor Coco Yuen reveals all in this LinkedIn article.

Team up with an influencer

Female influencer in hat on a beach

If you watched the 2019 Netflix documentary, Fyre: the greatest party that never happened, you’ll be familiar with Fyre Festival.

Billed as ‘an immersive music festival on a remote and private island’, with ‘the best in food, art, music and adventure’, the promo video for the 2017 event claimed it was ‘on the boundaries of the impossible’.

Turns out it was impossible.

When guests (who paid upwards of $12,000 for a ticket) touched down on Great Exuma in the Bahamas, they were met with rain-soaked disaster relief tents, missing luggage, and limp cheese sandwiches in takeaway containers. #eventfail.

The botched festival sparked a series of lawsuits against the organiser, Billy McFarland, and a ton of scathing media from attendees and press.

Silver lining

It may be one of the biggest event fails in history, but McFarland got one thing right with Fyre Festival.

To attract the attention of his wealthy millennial target audience, he recruited a bunch of macro influencers for an aspirational Instagram campaign.

And it worked a treat. On December 16, 2016, the likes of super model Bella Hadid and TV reality star Kylie Jenner simultaneously published a mysterious orange tile on their Instagram feeds with the #FyreFestival hashtag and a link to the event website.

Bella Hadid tweet fior Fyre Festival

By the end of the day, the mysterious posts had generated 300 million impressions and 1.5 million media impressions.

And within 48 hours, 95% of the tickets had been snapped up.

The power of influence

These astonishing results highlight the power of influencer marketing. But why is it so effective?

As Randy Blakeslee says in a Symboliq article: ‘Influencers have the power to sway their audience’s opinions, behaviors, and purchasing decisions, making them valuable partners for brands aiming to expand their reach and credibility.’

Okay. So, piggybacking on the authority of an influencer is an effective way to fuel intrigue, buzz, and ticket sales. But the chances are you don’t have the clout (or budget) to pull in Bella Hadid.

So hone in on micro-influencers. Sure, their follower counts are smaller, but they connect with their audiences on a deeper level and generate greater engagement.

Tip: You can use a tool like Modash to find an influencer that aligns with your niche and target audience.

Want to level up your influencer marketing game? Read: How to Use influencers to Supercharge your PR campaign

Launch a PR stunt

Band on stage with red lights

Want to take your event publicity up a gear? A PR stunt is just the ticket.

Just ask Coldplay.

In 2014, the British rock band went all out to promote the launch of their Ghost Stories album with an international scavenger hunt for handwritten lyrics.

Treasure hunt

It all started with an announcement on their website.

‘The band have decided to reveal the lyrics for all nine songs from the upcoming Ghost Stories album by hiding Chris’s handwritten lyric sheets in libraries worldwide. The lyrics will be hidden in ghost story books in libraries in nine countries, located across the planet.

Coldplay tweet re new album launch

Waxing lyrical

‘Clues to the exact locations of the lyrics will be posted from today on the band’s Twitter account – – using the hashtag #lyricshunt.’

The message went on to say that one of the hidden envelopes contained a ‘golden ticket’, giving the finder and a friend a free trip to London to see them perform at the Royal Albert Hall.

The announcement sent fans into a frenzy. On the first day alone, the #lyricshunt hashtag generated more than 14,000 tweets.

And delirious fans continued to flood the band’s Twitter account with user generated content for the duration of the campaign.

Worldwide discoveries

The lyrics were found in Mexico, Helsinki, Singapore, New York, Dublin, Johannesburg, England, and New Zealand.

And the ‘golden ticket’ was found in Barcelona by nineteen-year-old Judit Garriga Clusellas, within just 22 minutes of the clue being tweeted.Talk about dedication.

Event PR takeaway

The stunt generated a blizzard of excitement, engagement, and media coverage for two reasons.

It harnessed gamification

Defined by Gamify as ‘the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts,’ gamification is a powerful tactic to drive engagement, as it taps into our natural curiosity and drive to compete.

From competitions to interactive quizzes, there are loads of ways to incorporate gamification into your event PR. But, to see success, you need to combine it with an irresistible prize.

Which brings us on to the second takeaway from Coldplay’s stunt.

There was a strong incentive

The band incentivised fans to take part with a FOMO-inducing prize. Who wouldn’t want an all-expenses paid trip to see one of the world’s biggest bands perform?

But that wasn’t the only reason to take part. The stunt provided fans with an opportunity to own a unique piece of Coldplay memorabilia. And they got an exclusive peek at the content on the album to boot.

No wonder Ghost Stories was the fastest-selling album of the year.

Want to pull off a successful pre-event PR stunt of your own? Find out more about stunts by reading: What are PR Stunts, Anyway?

There you have it. Alert the press, create a social buzz, team up with an influencer and launch a PR stunt: just four public relations event ideas that are guaranteed to get your event publicity.

Want to join the PR revolution? Call me now on +44 (0)77604 70309

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