PR events – I’m sure you’ve either planned one or attended one. While the old PR events consisted of a standard PowerPoint presentation and printed press materials (yawn!), these days it’s all about the experience. In fact, a successful strategic experiential marketing campaign can drive word of mouth, trial and ultimately influence purchase decisions.
As PR professionals, we’re constantly asking ourselves “How can we make the experience better for our target (whether media or consumers)?” See below for some tips – the MMC way.
- Tie the event back to your campaign idea: Whether “whiffs,” hair color or tampons, make sure the campaign idea is front-and-center.
- Have a Clear Call-To-Action: What do you want consumers/editors to walk away from your event doing? This needs to be clear and concise.
- Make it Interactive: Give your audience something to talk about by making your event fun and relevant. What appeals to your target? Are they sports obsessed? Allow them to engage with their favorite sports hero. Do they have a passion for fashion? Bring the catwalk to the sidewalk. Want editors to test your product? Allow them to get hands-on right then and there!
- The Devil’s in the Details: Make sure to map out all of the logistics ahead of time. It’s important to think through an event from the perspective of the target (whether consumer, media or both). How many people can you cycle through per hour? What kind of wait do you anticipate? Will brand ambassadors be on-site to answer questions, provide samples, enter consumers into sweeps/encourage them to sign-up? What if it rains? Where’s the nearest restroom or green room?
- Make the Most of your Media Moment: For media, the big thing is obviously the media moment. Determine what you want them to cover and make sure you can convey it in a single image with a concise headline. If you can’t deliver this, neither can the media.
- Be Nimble: Most event planners would agree to this, I’m sure. No event is perfect – be prepared to make a last minute change or two (i.e., having to move locations because of the Easter Bunny!) and have contingency plans in place.
- Get Social: Leverage new (and old) social media channels (i.e., Vine) to create assets that can immediately be shared out during your event to create buzz and drive awareness.
A recent survey revealed that the majority of marketers believed “experiential marketing builds consumer relationships for the long term.” What do you think?
To sell clothes. Right? Easy to forget, amid the front row feuds (bitch-slapping even!), celeb sightings, incessant Instagramming, air-kissing, marketing stunts and backstage bragging rights status updates. We *heart* following all of the above, but let’s look at the bigger picture.
As someone behind-the-scenes at Fashion Week for almost a decade—as WWD’s beauty correspondent covering Milan backstage, to working with Aveda or Wella or with Olympus as sponsor—here’s my Fashion Week take…this year from the outside looking in.
Fashion’s Night Out—are we selling yet?
Created in 2009 to drive commerce and remind consumers that retail purchases help fuel and support the industry, it’s grown into such a circus that many residents in areas like Soho and the W. Village stay locked inside their apartment. Energy is high, crowds are thick to the point of suffocating, but were sales up? Several articles have questioned whether anyone’s buying, but I haven’t seen concrete evidence either way.
It’s sooooo commercial…
Well, sure, isn’t that the idea? But has it become so commercial that it stifles creativity (and will that affect sales)? As usual, the New York Times penned its semi-annual stories on Fashion Week commercialization. Typically, these range from last September’s poetic “Tents, but No Circus” where Guy Trebay posits that the “increasingly industrialized Fashion Week now lacks is a certain giddy excitement,” to a review this year—by Cathy Horyn—wondering what happened to the free spirited creativity that usually shines with beginning-of-the-week designers.
According to the Times, even the last bastion of true creativity—street style, which is still everywhere—has lost its authenticity due to brand “partnerships.” What used to be spontaneous snapshots of inspirational and unique style mash-ups are now as choreographed as any photo shoot. But these types of immediate and online activations provide real-time and trackable results, and also allow brands to reach those who are actually shopping.
Out with the Old, Evolve with the New
For several years, fashion pundits have noted a “Split Personality”; one juxtaposing young energy with the old guard (perhaps best summed up in this great shot of “besties” Anna Wintour and Nicky Minaj from last season). Same thing for how clothes actually sell. On one hand, via traditional retail buyers, and on the other, with forward-thinkers like Moda Operandi and, now, Topshop, who are pre-selling fashion right off the runway (just yesterday, Topshop Unique live-streamed its show and made up to six pieces available in custom colors available in 6 weeks. Or, order makeup from the looks to arrive in 48 hours). You could think of this evolution as Fashion Darwinism – but instead of survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the most forward-thinking. Like, for example, the recent collaboration/partnership between creative online retailing renegade Yoox.com and French luxury goods group PPR. According to Pambianco News (my former employer), through the joint venture, PPR brands will have access to Yoox’s highly automated and global technological platform, and will benefit from Yoox’s international presence. Bien joué.
There’s been much buzz around Hurricane Isaac’s impact on the GOP convention. The question of whether or not to proceed with an event in the midst of a looming storm is one we PR folks frequently face. And although PR pros have the power to persuade many influencers, unfortunately Mother Nature is not among them.
Picture this. For months your firm has been painstakingly planning a consumer/media event featuring an A-list celebrity. Two days prior to the big event weather forecasters predict a blizzard in your city, making it clear that your event cannot go on as scheduled. This is the “perfect storm” of event nightmares – and yes, it happened to us! But with some thoughtful pre-work, scenario-planning and a little resourceful trouble-shooting we pulled off a great event by connecting with our talent via Skype, arranging transportation for nearby media and enlisting street teams to help drive consumer attendance.
The key is to be as prepared as possible and always have a backup plan. A few elements to consider when deciding whether or not to cancel your event due to bad weather:
- Talent: Can we get the spokesperson to the venue? If not, can we reschedule their time? If no, will they participate virtually? The success of your event hinges largely on your spokesperson’s participation so this needs to be ironed out before you tackle the other challenges.
- Vendors: Always build a clause in your contracts to address inclement weather and how your event vendors and venue can work with you if the weather turns bad.
- Attendees: Whether your target is media, consumers or Aunt Martha and the cousins, it’s not much of a gathering without guests. Consider whether it is safe for them to travel. If their original mode of transportation is no longer an option, can you help to provide alternate means? If not, consider a virtual event.
- Insurance: If you’re scheduling an event in Colorado in the winter or a function in Florida during hurricane season, weather insurance is something to consider. This can at least cover the cost of extending hire of equipment, venue and staffing.
Bottom line, Isaac is yet another reminder of the importance of contingency planning in your event and overall PR strategy. Your Plan B can’t just be an afterthought; it has to be part of your Plan A!
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Last week at the BlogHer annual conference, MMC asked BlogHer co-founder and COO Elisa Camahort Page for her insight about the future of social networking. One hint: think mobile. Click here to see what she said.
This past weekend MMC supported Pfizer Consumer Healthcare’s (PCH) brand experience at BlogHer ’12. PCH sponsored unique activations that inspired attendees to live a healthy lifestyle and… Feel Young, the theme of the company’s booth. PCH offered bloggers product samples, a Feel Young Wellness Spa with brand-inspired pampering stations and a vlogger station where they could record videos and upload them to their own sites. Bloggers also were treated to a Rockettes-style workout at Radio City Music Hall and a NYC-themed scavenger hunt. Over the three-day conference, these activations netted 12 blog posts and 450 tweets.
Also for PCH this week, MMC supported the launch of the Caltrate® brand’slatest product , that has double the amount of vitamin D3 to help maximize calcium absorption.
Image courtesy of SheKnows
The 8th annual BlogHer Conference brought over 4,500 of the most influential bloggers in the country to NYC for three jam-packed days of education and networking. MMC was at the meeting supporting several clients and spent some time finding out what was on blogger’s minds. Here’s what we learned, with some thoughts about what it means to brands.
1. Blogging is a passion, but it’s also a business
Many new bloggers are interested in ways to earn money for their online content. Their biggest question is how to price their services appropriately and gain the attention of brands they want to work with. Marketers should keep this in mind when they build relationships with bloggers they want to advocate for their brand. Research the sites that are the best fit for your brand and messages and propose both paid and earned partnerships.
2. Blogs are just one of many channels online influencers use to reach their network
Bloggers are spreading their content across a multitude of social channels. For bloggers who want to be compensated for every blog, consider earned opportunities on their other social channels. Influencers are often more receptive to posting on Facebook or Twitter (or sharing a photo on Pinterest, or a video on YouTube) as a fast, easy way to spread the news/tips/message in a new way.
3. Pictures are worth a thousand words
With the rise of Pinterest, influencers are increasingly looking for informal images from brands. Plan for a wide range of product as well as lifestyle images to share (and in a variety of formats for easy downloading!) when you launch your program.
4. The most successful exhibits are those that align brand experiences with areas of interest for bloggers
Everyone will stop by your booth for the free tchotke. To get them to stay longer and learn about your products, create an experience they’ll be they’ll want to engage with. Exhibitors that attracted lots of traffic were those that focused on general health, menopause, parenthood, and easy ways to cook, clean and take care of family. To ensure that you’re spreading your messages from Day One of the conference, offer a shareable element like pictures and videos that bloggers can upload to their social channels via their smartphones.
Who is already counting down the days until BlogHer 2013 in Chicago? MMC is!
Samara Finn, Heather Papsun and Kristen Ryan contributed to this post
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Last week, MMC was at the 2012 annual meeting of BlogHer, the largest community of women who blog. We asked Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder and COO of BlogHer about how brands should engage online influencers. Her advice? Listen to what online influencers want and be where they already are. To find out more, click on this video and watch what she said.