Picture this: You’ve got a big event coming up. Maybe it’s a user conference or perhaps it’s a smaller roundtable. Regardless of what it is, you want the media to be in attendance and to have an excellent time. That said, executing an event without a hitch is far from simple. But much like throwing a fabulous dinner party, there’s a few elements that you can incorporate that will set you up for success and keep your guest journalists, coming back for more.
If you frequent conferences, you’ve likely had an experience where you’re on your feet 90 percent of the day, you’re hesitant to use your devices due to dwindling battery life, and high-speed WiFi is near impossible to locate, let alone gain access to. Now imagine being on deadline to file a story…
Creating a comfortable media and analyst center is the first step toward generating some great coverage. By providing journalists with a dedicated environment to regroup and write, you demonstrate that you value their attendance and see them as a priority. Essentials for the best media and analyst center includes ample seating, electric outlets, dedicated WiFi and, of course, snacks and refreshments. While silence is probably unlikely, a quieter place definitely makes a difference for those trying to concentrate. If the technology is available, consider offering a live stream of some of the bigger sessions so journalists don’t miss a beat while they are taking time away to write.
Events have a lot of moving pieces, from news announcements to one-on-one interviews; the only constant is change. This means materials like press releases, executive bios, event maps and agendas are out of date nearly immediately after they are distributed. Keeping all of these pieces straight while sending to journalists as one-offs is a recipe for disaster. Consider instead using a single, easy-to-update repository for journalists to access at their leisure. Tools like Releasd are incredibly simple to use and can make uploading everything from the latest iteration of an announcement to real-time photos of the event a breeze.
What good is hosting an event if your attendees don’t remember it? Providing a unique and memorable moment that has a bit of a “wow factor” will keep your attendees on the hook, wanting more. Because the conference and event scene is saturated, to say the least, offering your journalists something cool that compels them to talk or tweet about your event can be just as valuable as generating coverage. If there’s a cool simulation or futuristic demo that is interactive, it has potential to generate buzz and create interest in the event.
For instance, at a conference focused on customer experience this past fall, a client developed a cool virtual reality demo that helped them understand the value of their data. Attendees were able to opt in to have the sessions and booths that they visited tracked. Once they gathered a certain amount of data, they were able to interact with it, get recommendations for other sessions and see a profile of their personal journey. While most journalists didn’t write exclusive articles on the demo, it was incredibly visual which invited a ton of social sharing and buzz.
One of the greatest things about events is the occasion for attendees to travel someplace new — it can be a major draw to host your event in a cool city. That said, because of the constraints of work travel and trying to pack a lot of activities into a little bit of time, attendees often have limited time to explore anything but the conference center. By building some localized experiences into the event, you can ensure that even if journalists can’t break away for an evening, they are still able to count the trip as an opportunity to experience a new culture. Are you hosting an event in Spain? Bring some flamenco dancers and tapas on site! Maybe you’re inviting journalists to San Diego: Think about getting the best fish taco food truck to cater the event!
To truly be the “host with the most” it’s important to consider what details will make journalists lives a little better. By leading with comfort and convenience while helping them to do their jobs better, you can’t go wrong. Don’t forget to add a little flair to make the event memorable, and soon enough you’ll be able to call yourself the Martha Stewart of conferences!