Recently, my co-worker Ada Hatzios wrote about what it means to be in public relations and all of the various images our industry provokes for people. Like Ada, when I tell people I work in public relations, about 60 percent of the time I hear bullet No. 6 from Ada’s post: “So you get to throw parties for a living? Cool!”
Actually, events that I work on are much more than the party itself. Don’t get me wrong, events are (and should be!) fun, but they’re an important piece of the overall campaign puzzle. Events aren’t just stand alone occurrences; they’re tactics in a carefully-constructed strategic plan.
You see, events communicate an organization’s message as much as a press release or newsletter article. A great example is The Clean Air Campaign‘s PACE Awards, a luncheon dedicated to honoring employers and commuters who champion clean air and less traffic through their actions. The Award winners are regular people who have gone above and beyond – either personally or professionally – to make decisions that lead to healthier air. Highlighting their successes in a public forum communicates The Clean Air Campaign’s mission through real-life examples.
Another client, Families First, holds an annual benefit dinner that I have the privilege of working on this year. Aptly named Dining for a Difference, this event is much more than a fundraiser. It’s an awareness-builder. Georgia’s foster children and homeless youths desperately need the support of our community, both emotionally and financially, to help them succeed against overwhelming obstacles. This event shines a light on the needs in our community and the sustainable solutions an organization such as Families First can bring.
Events may stand out more, especially due to their own special themes, colors and designs, but all tactics in a PR plan do in one way or another. No two documents are written exactly the same way even if they cover similar topics. That’s what makes each item unique and memorable, yet ties them together in the over-arching, big-picture plan.
So what sparked today’s post you may ask? Did someone ask what I do and stare blankly at my response? Did someone throw out bullet No. 6? Neither, actually. I had the privilege of participating in an event planning meeting today, and the behind-the-scenes strategy and planning got me thinking. Events are just another clever form of communicating. The next time you attend one, I challenge you to discover the message behind it. It might surprise you!