An event should be marketed like any other product, which is why we only address marketing briefly in this guide. After all, most of the information in general marketing guides can be applied directly to events.
Marketing begins with a marketing plan. In order to market your event, you need to understand what it is that you are selling. What is your event about, who is it for, how does it differ from other events. Is this a new event or are people already familiar with it?
Next, it’s time to set goals for your marketing: what do you want to achieve and who do you want to reach. Marketing channels and methods can be chosen based on your target audience. Other factors are your budget and your event marketing team’s skills and knowledge.
Your marketing plan should also include a marketing schedule.
A press release is a traditional but still often effective means of informing the media of an event. Draft the press release in the form of an article to make it easy for the media to publish it as such. It is a good idea to always include a photo or a video link in a press release.
Before writing a press release, consider who you want the text to reach and keep your target reader in mind when writing. It is important to attract the interest of the media, but the actual target group of your press release are the readers of those media channels. Consider the interests of your target reader and how you can express yourself as clearly and simply as possible.
You may draft different press releases for different media channels. A local newspaper or radio channel will be most interested in a local or regional point of view, that is, how your event is visible in Tampere or Pirkanmaa, whereas the national media prefers a wider perspective, and specialised media outlets want to cover the event form the point of view of their branch or industry. If you can capture some interesting or unusual audiovisual material of your event, the TV news may be interested in broadcasting it as a piece of lighter news at the end of the programme.
The internal flow of information in the organisation is crucial to the success of both the event itself and its marketing. Keeping everyone informed ensures that people involved in the organisation of the event know the general situation, who’s doing what, what information is public and what measures should be taken next. Each organisation should choose the communication channels that best suit their needs according to the size and operating culture of the organisation. Available channels include:
- Instant messaging services (e.g. WhatsApp)
- Project management tools
- Discussions over a cup of coffee
- Bulletin boards
Crisis and special event communications
There are always risks involved in every event, and event organisers should always prepare for the risks and for communicating them. In some circumstances, good crisis communication may even help save lives. Even in less dramatic scenarios, it will give a professional and trustworthy impression of the event organiser and minimises the amount of negative publicity.
Therefore, the head of security, the person in charge of the event and the head of marketing/communications should go through possible crisis scenarios as well as how and through which channels they will be communicated. In case of an emergency, speed and efficiency are a priority. An incidence that may cause bad publicity but is not an acute emergency should be communicated as openly as possible and without blaming anyone. If a detail that is kept secret becomes public knowledge later, the resulting damage to the image of the event may be significant. In other than acute incidents, it is often best to let someone in a leading position communicate it to show that the whole organisation bears the responsibility for the event. If necessary, a crisis communication expert may coach the person communicating the information.
The crisis may also be internal. For instance, the financial success of the event may not meet the targets which may affect the employment of those involved in the event or the financial situation of the organisation. The management should communicate these situations and look for possible solutions. Appropriate insurance usually covers salaries and the significant financial liabilities of the organisation.
Crises and special incidents to consider when planning crisis communications
- Threats to safety (such as external threats, fire, unstable structures, crowding);
- Sudden changes to the date or place of the event;
- Cancellation of a performance/number;
- Cancellation of the event;
- Financial loss;
- Illness or death.