Depending on where you live, how long you’ve been blogging, and what PR lists you happen to be on, you’ve probably been invited to a blogger event.
When I first started getting invited to these events, back in the dark ages of blogging, I did my best to attend as many as I possibly could. First of all, most of them were held relatively close to where I lived, and second of all, I had little kids and would have given my soul for a night or afternoon away.
Since those days I’ve become a little more circumspect about what I’ll attend.
This past week, after careful consideration, I attended a lunch event in the city. Since the city is an hour away and the event was taking place on a minimum day at school, the whole thing took some careful planning. I warned the organizers that I would be late, and, Kindergartner in tow, headed North.
Between the drive, the parking lot that was full when we arrived, my shoe that got stuck in a street grate, and the simple fact that the event was taking place in the way back of the city block entirely housed at the address I was given, we arrived almost 30 minutes late.
Only to find that the presentation was almost over.
Even if I hadn’t been late I would have still been annoyed. I mean, really, if you’re going to do a presentation of your web based company, it would probably be good form to use a projector and to have your event set up so that attendees can really play with the program.
Which leads me to this: A few tips for running great, memorable, and fun events.
1) Know your objectives ahead of time.
Why are you hosting this event? What are you hoping to get out of the people you’ve invited? Are you demonstrating a new product? Trying to build relationships? Hoping people will blog about your company or product?
Knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time will allow you to plan a memorable event that will be worth everyone’s time and money.
2) Start your event before your event.
Communication about your company and product can start long before your guests arrive. If your product is something attendees can experience before arriving, give them a chance to do so. If guests arrive having already invested some time and energy in your product your event will be exponentially more dynamic and worthwhile to all.
3) Give your attendees plenty of notice.
No one likes getting an invitation the night before an event. First of all, it makes it hard to plan to attend, but mostly, no one wants to ever be made to feel like they are on the Z list of attendees.
4) Give your attendees the tools they need to arrive on time.
Will there be parking? Should they expect traffic? Do they need to walk three blocks before arriving at their destination? Odds are that the attendees don’t know the area well. Give them the tools they need to arrive on time. By the same token, if someone tells you they’re going to be late, be fair and let them know if it’s still worth their while to attend.
5) Give your attendees the tools they need to make your event a success.
Bloggers blog, they also tweet, facebook, instagram, and pin. You WANT them to do this. This is you getting your bang for your buck during your event. So make sure that there’s sufficient wifi available, that you select an event hashtag, that everyone knows they key twitter handles you’d like promoted, and that everyone knows your company or product’s facebook page or other social media avenues.
Want to win mega points with your attendees? Make it easy for them to upload their photos to an already created event album.
6) Make your take-aways and expectations clear to all
Bloggers get invited to a lot of events. Not everything they learn will end up being a good fit for their blogs. Simply assuming that a blogger will blog about your event or your product just because you fed them lunch is a rookie mistake. If you want to ensure bloggers blog about your event make sure that expectation is made clear up front or make sure you give them something compelling enough to write about.
By the same token, make sure your message is clear. All too often event hosts skirt the main reason they’ve invited bloggers out and pretended the whole event really is to just to show them some love. Bloggers are professionals. They would rather be given concrete talking points to share with their communities. They would rather have a great working relationship with you where all expectations are clear.
Just like the event didn’t start just when your guests arrived, it doesn’t end when they walk away. Sharing photos, learnings, and your message again gives your attendees another opportunity to talk about you to their followers and it gives you the opportunity to deepen the relationship you founded at your event.
It goes without saying that these are just some ways to create a successful event where everyone has a good time and all parties come out ahead. Join us on Twitter this Thursday, September 13th at 10amPST/1pm EST for a #SplashChat where we’ll discuss the great blogger events we’ve attended and see what made them memorable. Come tell us what you think is missing or not!