When it comes to working in PR, I’m not going to lie to you guys. It isn’t for the faint of heart. I think there’s a serious misconception out there that the industry is so glamorous and primarily focused on shmoozing for clients (if you’re in an agency) or shmoozing editors and press (if you’re agency or in-house). While a part of that is true, it’s important to remember that your butt is going to be the one also PLANNING the event, as well as haranguing press into attendance with bribes. That’s literally how it is.
When it comes to sponsoring events for your brand, there are a few different ways to go about it. The most popular options are sponsoring a booth or table at a conference or trade show, or contributing to gift bags. Given that I work for a product-driven company, we are ALLLLL about contributing to gift bags. It’s a great way to get your product into the hands of influencers! If you’re looking for more of a commitment and face-to-face interaction, definitely consider sponsoring a conference with a booth.
The thing with conferences that I really like is that the attendees actually WANT to be there. They pay for a ticket, just like everyone else, and are usually drawn in because they heard your brand was going to be there and they had to meet a rep. Coming from the brand’s perspective, that’s actually awesome. Bloggers and press may want free product, but we want ambassadors who actually give a crap about us. That way, the relationship is actually a win-win and everybody walks away happy.
As I spoke a little bit about in my Charleston recap, I attended the 2015 Southern Blog Society to rep my fabulous company to a bunch of wonderful bloggers (and gave me a great excuse to meet some bloggy friends in real life).
When it comes to sponsoring an event or acting as a vendor, there are a few key things you need to remember to do/bring with you/ ship out ahead of time. The day of the actual event is usually a nightmare of chaos, so the more prepared you are ahead of time, the better.
Keep this handy checklist at the ready before your next big event and I PROMISE you that everything will go smoothly…Unless the President is in town and the town decides to turn away the palette of product you had shipped in because it “looked suspicious”. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…hopefully this year will go MUCH smoother!
A successful sponsor event is all in the prepwork. Ship out all of your product and booth components well ahead of time, include glue dots (for display), scissors, tape, return shipping labels, and anything else you could possibly need while away from your office and in front of a crowd. Get tracking info on all of your shipments and be sure to check with the hotel when they receive shipments in order to time it’s arrival properly. Plan out your booth beforehand, and use competitive intel from the previous year’s event as inspiration for creative direction.
2. SET UP:
Get to your event as early as humanly possible (I’m a big fan of breaking into your space the day before) and ensure that all of your product and packages arrived. By doing this early, you’re leaving yourself some wiggle-room for if something arrived broken or if something didn’t arrive at all. Shit happens, but you need to prepare yourself the best you can to handle tragedy when it strikes.
After your booth is set up, if you do it the night before go out for a nice dinner (don’t get trashed). Enjoy the last few moments of peace you have before you’re inevitably swamped with clients/ influencers/ press that are just dying to try your companies latest and greatest….and expect freebies.
Arrive as early as possible before the event if it is the next day, and make sure again that your booth looks as good as it possibly can. If you have sound or visual components, do a test run to make sure that everything is working and that you won’t have technical difficulties. Run through a brief script of your pitch, and remember to breath…and SMILE! Everyone loves conferences and events, and I promise you the attendees are genuinely interested in getting to know the companies that made their event possible.
As soon as your booth is clear of attendees and the event is over, start to break down your booth as efficiently as possible. Throw away any trash (there’s no need to ship that stuff home) and honestly? Give away any product or freebies you have left over. It’s usually not worth the cost to ship home or back to the office if you’ve planned your quantities properly. Leave your space neater than how you found it, and be sure to collect business cards of anyone you want to keep in contact with.
Events can be so wildly stressful, but I cannot say enough that success is really in the planning. If you have a great team dedicated to helping you pull off a sponsorship or vendor spot or whatever, then you’re already halfway to hosting a great conference. Remember these tips, and don’t forget that again…Shit happens. It’s how you respond to stress that makes or breaks you as a PR Girl. Have confidence in your decisions and be flexible enough to roll with the punches if your mic goes out, or your sizzle reel doesn’t work. Be creative and engage your audience…that’s what they’re attending for!
Have you ever hosted or sponsored a conference?
Share YOUR story below!