Public Relations and Communications

Public Relations Is Just Like a Great Pair of Shoes

by Kate Blom-Lowrey

Versatility. Style. Fit. Quality. Reliability.

The traits that make up a great pair of shoes also make up a great public relations campaign. The perfect PR campaign embodies both form and function, with the on-trend delivery of on-strategy content. While there’s still room in an event marketing plan for the standard press release and reputation management tactics (like there’s still room in the closet for a classic black pump or Italian leather wingtip), it’s becoming increasingly important to stay on top of trends that are at the height of PR fashion. mdg public relations strategist Kate Blom-Lowery has outlined them in this month’s edition of Inner Circle.

Create your own news
Be the gladiator sandal in a world of flip-flops! A strong content strategy allows you to be more forward-thinking in your approach. Go beyond communications that simply announce next year’s show dates, location and/or speakers, and weave in content about the trends that are shaping the industry for the year ahead. For example, if you know a workforce shortage is impacting your members or attendees, create a blog about how your organization is addressing the challenge. Is robotic technology changing your attendees’ manufacturing plants? Write a story about the exhibiting suppliers that are making it possible and link to it on social channels. Claim your rightful place as a thought leader (and reliable media source) by engaging in the bigger stories.

Captivate influencers
Just like there are trend-setting fashion influencers who have large followings on social media, there are likely influencers in your space who also have the power to influence thoughts and behaviors. These could be speakers, members of the media, bloggers, bellwether attendees and/or exhibitors. To develop meaningful ways to engage with them, consider interviews, storytelling, social media takeovers, Partners in Promotion programs, revenue sharing or other innovative tactics that make sense for your particular situation. One mdg client actually made a preeminent industry influencer the headlining host of the entire conference. Another client engaged a leading manufacturer to share her show floor experiences using the event hashtag.

Use social media like a pop of color
Like colorful laces in a pair of men’s dress shoes, social media is often the extra touch that goes a long way. According to a 2018 study from Pew Research Center, 68 percent of U.S. adults get their news from social media. Social is a quick way of disseminating information and can generate thousands of impressions. Plus, stories go viral in a hot minute! Journalists, bloggers and freelancers are spending time in the social media trenches, looking for story ideas or engaging in emerging storylines.

Walk in someone else’s shoes
Storytelling is a powerful way to capture the attention of an audience, engage them and make a point in a memorable way. Unlike a standard testimonial quote that speaks to the event itself, a story can tell an audience about what happened after the event, when the attendee applied the content to his/her business. Stories are best when they are accompanied by compelling visuals, such as photos, pull quotes and infographics. And, in my opinion, there’s no better medium for a good story than video.

Dig deeper and discover
It’s time to strap on some work boots and dig into your event’s data to discover what attendees are telling you through their actions. In today’s highly competitive market, data assets like membership information, event registration data, session data and post-event surveys can help you identify which messages will resonate and which audience to target. You can use these to inform topic selection and optimally time releases to most effectively reach your audience. For instance, if you discover your event’s most attended sessions dealt with retail trends, craft PR messages that emphasize where to find more on that topic on the show floor and at future points in your show cycle. Data is an increasingly essential component in driving PR decisions and it would be a huge mistake not to use what you learn from what attendees are finding most engaging.

A version of this content originally appeared in PCMA Convene.