The whole point of social media is that it’s community based. If you hold a one-off press event, invite some influencers and expect that to launch your product, you’re wrong.
Whilst press events can be a fun and interactive way for influencers to experience brands, they usually offer next to nothing for consumers because they’re all the same, and equally “exclusive”. Be honest, how many times have you skipped through an influencer’s story of them at a one-off press event because it benefits you in no way whatsoever? We’re guessing quite a lot – most audiences are bored of press events because they get nothing out of them, which means influencers aren’t interested because they work for their followers, and not for brands. That’s not to say that brand experiences aren’t important – they definitely are – but you might as well make them accessible or at least useful for the consumers, instead of just the influencers dictating to the consumers. Brand saturation can be a problem for customers who feel overwhelmed by the humungous scale of retail these days, so they value experiences highly and look for more meaningful, emotive connections to companies they buy from.
This Morning Event with Very.co.uk
Recently, we hosted a money-can’t-buy experience for our team of always-on influencers at Very, where they were given a tour of the ITV Studios and invited to an exclusive Very fashion show afterwards. The experience was entirely unique, and because it was interesting, exciting and innovative for the influencers, their audiences benefitted from content that reflected all of this, and let them be a part of the adventure as well. Unsurprisingly, the response to this event from influencers, compared to that of a traditional press day, was overwhelmingly positive.
“Once you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all”
“There’s been no change since I started going years ago”
“I can now consume a press event from the comfort of my home”.
We’ve aware of the lack of interested in generic press events these days, but 56% of all brands still use branded events as a top marketing strategy, even above digital and email advertising. In fact, Anna Sang from The Bizzabo Blog reports that 80% of marketers believe live events are critical to their company’s success. In some respects, they aren’t wrong – branded experiences are of course important and valuable, but it is also imperative to ensure that your money is well invested and that your press events are achieving their main goal, which should be to get people talking and create a buzz.
So, here’s how to think differently when it comes to planning branded experiences and events, and subsequently capture the attention of your influencers and consumers alike:
- Make it unique
Anyone can hire a giant deckchair, show off their new season collection and dazzle with prosecco but what is it that your business is doing authentically to create those sharable, memorable experiences? In order to create moments that’ll get both press and influencers talking, similarly online and offline, you need to bring something new to the table.
- Make it personalised
If your press event is a drop-in scenario running between 9am and 9pm, it will inevitably result in a mere 40% attendance rate at best. This is because those who have been invited know it’s really aimed at the masses and therefore don’t feel special, and those not invited feel irrelevant and unimportant. Focus on building a rapport with fewer influencers, who are more valuable to your brand long-term. Whether it’s a dinner with a selective guest list, a brand building experience where guests get to manufacture or design their own product, or a public event where your consumer is fully immersed into the brand’s identity, the aim of the game is to make your guests feel special – whoever they are; as if you created the event specifically with them in mind.
- Make it Instagram-able
The purpose of press events is to get people talking, in real life but also online. Even if you host the most incredible event in practice, if you don’t consider aesthetics as part of your planning, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Things to consider include (but aren’t limited to) multiple photo opportunities, event space lighting (if your venue is dark and gloomy, don’t expect many photos to be posted to the ‘gram) and unique characteristics because if your event looks just like any other, it probably won’t make your guests’ grids.
Ultimately, your customer base is seeking these brand-led experiences for the same reasons your influencers are: to garner some kind of brand relationship, feel exclusive and get some snaps to share later. The end goal of a press day is coverage, and unique experiences create additional reasons to share; something that is increasingly important to the younger consumer generation.
Here are some brands that know what they’re doing when it comes to creating impactful experiences for consumers and influencers alike:
Google Curiosity Rooms
- Google’s infamously wacky HQ offices featuring slides, sleeping pods and interactive everything, were recently brought to life in their most recent UK based Google Pixel 3 PR event. The ‘Curiosity Rooms’ launched in 2017 to promote the release of the Google Pixel 2, so for their third installment of mobile phones, Google brought the experience based event back, and was better than ever. In a big event space they had multiple interconnected rooms, all of which were insta-worthy, filled with countless opportunities for consumers to get involved and experience the phone’s features on a fun, macro level. The event ran for five weeks, was exclusively ticketed (that way everyone feels equally important, yet demand for attendance is still high) and featured almost everything from workshops to live podcast recordings. We’re not saying you have to match Google’s scale, but if you’re looking for the event planning experts, then Google (as usual) is where to find them.
- If an ITV unlimited access tour sounds interesting, imagine helping those influencers elevate their careers by making them the stars of the show! That is exactly what Very did when it changed direction from model-only TV adverts, to using their influencers in their above the line marketing. This saw a spike in mentions across social when the influencers’ communities shared their excitement for seeing their favorite Instagrammers on TV – it truly was an experience shared by all.
- The cosmetics brand has already made a name for themselves by introducing food-grade cosmetics to the industry, but they recently up they game even more by executing an exclusive luncheon to promote the launch of their Amuse Bouche line at Sephora. The food that was served reflected the hues of the lipsticks in the line, and the founder, Susanne Langmiur, spoke to the attendees about the brand’s revolutionary methods. Legendary celebrity makeup artists, such as Patrick Ta – artist to the likes of Gigi Hadid’s face – were on call to apply the lipsticks at the beauty bar in-between courses, adding to unique air of exclusivity and luxury.
It’s clear that the above examples show there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model for press events – but this should be comforting instead of daunting, because it means you can mould the frame to fit your brand. Your success lies in understanding your customer base and thinking outside the box without sacrificing your brand pillars. An industry worth an estimated £42.3 billion, press events aren’t to be dismissed, but in the social media day and age, they ought to be refined. For brands across all verticals, old and new, online and offline, staying focused on giving your consumers the experiences that will enhance their lives andtheir understanding of your brand or product, is the best way to ensure that your press event is a success.