Last week, our client, Vertafore, and its user group, NetVU, hosted more than 2,500 customers at their annual customer conference, this year held in Nashville, Tenn. Guests were treated to three days of educational sessions, award galas, volunteer opportunities, and industry networking in Music City.
As part of the event, the Barokas PR team planned and hosted an exclusive press conference for top industry journalists, analysts, and VIP influencers. This included an executive panel and Q&A as well as a speed-dating style interview circuit that resulted in 36 press briefings in one hour.
If you’ve been in PR long enough, you’ll likely experience the pleasure and agony of planning a press conference. With so many details to plan ahead of time, and so many moving parts during the actual event, I kept wondering if I was planning a press conference or my wedding all over again.
If you find yourself at the helm of planning either type of event, here are a few tips to get you started:
Invite the right people
For a wedding, this should go without saying. We’ve all seen Wedding Crashers and/or experienced the hassle – I mean joy! – of a last-minute request from Aunt Sue to invite Cousin Timmy to the wedding.
For the press conference, inviting the right audience is one of the most important decisions you will make. First, you must know the messages you want to convey at the event. From there, perform a coverage audit and invite those based on the stories you want written. Keep in mind industry influencers whose connections are important to your company’s success. An invite to a high-touch event such as a press conference can go a long way to strengthen that relationship.
Take time to eat
It has been said that the number one faux pas the happy couple makes on their wedding day is forgetting to eat during the reception. If you know me, you know I didn’t have that problem.
Also, if you know me, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I took a lunch break after the press conference to sample some of Nashville’s famous hot chicken at Hattie B’s. Not only was it extremely delicious, but it gave me a chance to process everything that happened as well as gave me energy for the remaining activities that day.
Send thank you’s
These days, it seems like the only written thank you notes I receive are from weddings! But don’t stop there. If press and analysts took time out of their very busy schedules to attend your event, you must send a thank you note. Not only is it a perfect opportunity to set up follow-up conversations with executives and learn about how you can work together in the future, it is the right thing to do.
Planning a press conference, much like planning a wedding, requires a solid purpose, a lot of organization, and a whole lot of energy. After planning three of one and one of the other (guess which is which!), I can say that the work is definitely worth it.
Photo credit: Constance