It’s not unusual for the role of the PR officer or consultant to extend to event management and all that goes with it from planning and organisation to inviting and hosting the guests. The most likely events that anyone working in PR, will organise are;
1. Press conference
2. Press reception or launch event
3. Facility or press visit
4. An open day
5. Press lunch, breakfast or dinner
Having worked closely with an events team previously, the role of the PRO is not exclusive to these types of events. It may be that there is a need for a PR team or communications department to assist in public events and activity. I.E, the London Marathon would be organised by a dedicated event team and supported with a press team to generate coverage and support.
In planning any of the events above, there are many considerations that need to be factored in. An event cannot, generally, be a last-minute decision that is thrown together, unless it is a press conference. A press conference is usually called on the day as it is necessary to get information to the media and public fast. This is common with governmental announcements and updates.
In order to successfully manage and organise an event the “PRO needs to have strong managerial skills in planning, budgeting, organisation and directing” (Baines et al, 2004). There are several special considerations that the PRO or consultant should prioritize in event planning;
- The date; setting a date that does not clash with other events of importance to the delegates is crucial. The date should also consider large global and national events like the Olympics or Wimbledon; delegates may have tickets or an interest in the events – so it’s best to avoid these dates at all costs.
It may be worth doing some additional research before confirming the date. You may want to get in touch with the PA or office of specific delegates to ensure their will be no calendar clash.
- The time; is just as important as the date. Planning a press reception at 6pm on a Friday night might be perfect for you and the company but the journalist or delegates might prefer to clock of at 5pm and head home. It is also likely that you will need to plan the event based on press deadlines to ensure your event receives coverage in next months women’s mag or Sunday’s newspaper.
- The venue; should be appealing in its own right. If it’s not exciting or attractive it needs to be relevant. The venue should also be accessible by the main forms of public transport and offer plenty of parking facilities. If the event is global then you may need to factor in over night accommodation and transfers.
- Invitations; should be clear and precise. Personalised invitations are likely to be better received that a blanket email or mail out. The recipient should also know exactly where, when and how to RSVP i.e. provide a telephone number or email address. In my experience, you will have to do some follow-up phone calls to confirm attendance and possibly food choices if the event includes meals/ dining.
- Engagement; is key. Most people will get irritable after 20 minutes of being talked at so ensuring that delegates get some recreational time is important for good moral and engagement. It may be necessary to organise activities outside of the official speeches, particularly with conferences that extend across several days.
- Information and press packs; will need to be assembled prior to the event and handed to the desired delegates. However, overloaded press packs may well be found dumped after the event. Ensure that information is kept to a minimum and only provide what is necessary. If a lot of content and information is needed to be issued, you could ask if the journalist or recipient is happy for you to send it on to them or provide it digitally.
Of course, there are plenty of factors for consideration when planning an event of any size, these are just some of the crucial points that will make the planning process and event a little easier if done right. The PR’s role is not likely to be exclusive to these types of events, I have worked in a PR role during a large event that did not require being directly involved with the planning stages. Instead, the PR team were responsible for gaining local and national coverage, securing sponsorship and support, organising competitions, hosting dignitaries, preparing for crisis situations and other PR support functions.