By Blair Mulzer, Account Coordinator
Having organized a dozen or so business announcements, groundbreakings and ribbon-cuttings in the past few months, I find that a press event checklist is an absolute must. It keeps you from forgetting both the big and small details that are necessary for your press event to go off without a hitch and to finish strong. Below are 10 steps to ensure your next press event goes successfully.
Step 1. The minute your client tells you about an event, put it on your calendar, their calendar and the calendars of everyone who will be involved.
It’s not only good for you to be in the know, but your team members should be, too. This keeps them from scheduling other client meetings over this client’s event and having to miss one or the other.
Step 2. Begin crafting the press release and media advisory.
A lot of questions arise when you begin writing the release and advisory, and the answers you receive will also be helpful for event planning. Once you get all the details down including timing, location, speakers, attendees, etc., you can craft your media kit and…
Step 3. Schedule your photographer and audio production company.
You need both your photographer and audio controller at the event an hour early to set up and become familiar with the location. It’s also a good idea to have your photographer stay after the ceremony to get photos of residents, civic leaders and stakeholders.
Here is what you need as part of your audio production package:
- Multi-audio input box – for videographers to plug the microphone into to eliminate the need for multiple microphones on the podium
- Two speakers
- Audio-input chord – to plug your phone into the speakers to play music before and after the ceremony
- Audio controller – someone to run the system for you
Step 4. Select speakers and send out invitations.
Once you select your speakers and design an invitation, both mail and email it to your speakers as well as to any civic leaders and elected officials you would like to attend. These might include the governor, mayor, town council and chamber of commerce members, and the state senator, representatives and city-county councilors who cover your district. Don’t forget to invite area business leaders.
You will reach the general public in other ways, see step 7.
Step 5. Write a speaking outline and talking points.
It’s a great idea to write out a speaking timeline and talking points so that speakers have a good idea of when they are to speak and what they should say. Give the timeline and talking points to the speakers as soon as possible so that they have time to prepare their remarks. Someone should act as the emcee, both opening and closing the ceremony and introducing each speaker. Here’s an example outline with simple talking points:
John Smith – title here, emcee
- Thanks everyone for being there
- Acknowledges key stakeholders/attendees
- Makes a few opening comments
- Introduces next speaker, Mr. Jones
Mr. Jones – title here
- Affirms Smith’s announcement
- Adds details unique to his perspective
- Thanks Mr. Jones
- Introduces next speaker, Mr. Johnson
Mr. Johnson – title here
- A few comments based on his perspective
- Thanks Mr. Johnson, thanks everyone for attending and invites distinguished guests to participate in groundbreaking or ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Step 6. Scope out the location ahead of time and come up with a weather backup plan.
What if it’s raining the day of your outdoor celebration? Should you rent a tent just in case, or move the event indoors? These are questions you need to answer prior to your event, and preferably not the hour before. If there’s a solid chance of rain and plan B becomes plan A, remember to communicate that to your audio controller and photographer.
Step 7. Send out the media advisory and push event details on social media.
Send out the media advisory a week before the event, follow up via phone or email a few days before, and send a final reminder the morning of. In addition, post and tweet about the upcoming event on Facebook and Twitter a week prior, two days before and the morning of.
Step 8. Gather all materials necessary for the event.
The event is a few days away. Make sure you have everything you need. Ribbon and large scissors for a ribbon-cutting, enough shovels for a groundbreaking, beer toasts for a brewery opening … you get the drift. Also, make sure you have your client’s logo to attach to the front of the podium and copies of the speaker outline and scripts for each of your speakers.
Once the media materials are approved, print out your materials and assemble 10 media kits. Place any renderings you have, the press release and your business card in each folder. Also, carry an extra folder with multiple copies in case you run out.
Step 9. Coordinate the press event.
You have followed up with attendees and media and have prepared all materials necessary for the event. You show up at the event an hour early to help set things up, making sure the audio controller knows exactly where you want the speakers and podium set up and has appropriate music playing.
You make sure all speakers are accounted for, and that all town officials, civic leaders and elected officials in attendance will be recognized in the opening remarks and invited to participate in the groundbreaking or ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Five minutes prior, you gather the speakers and place them in order behind the podium and give the emcee the green light to begin. After the speeches conclude and distinguished guests are invited to participate in the ceremony, you make sure everyone has a shovel or is spread evenly behind the ribbon. You count down for a formal photo, then give the group the go-ahead to cut the ribbon or start digging.
After the ceremony has concluded you …
Step 10. Distribute the press release and spread the news online.
Send the press release out to media right after the ceremony concludes. Next, post the release and any project renderings and photos of the event on your client’s website, then share the URL on social media for the public to learn about the news.
Congratulations, you just ran a successful press announcement. Now, get ready for the next one!