This article is part of the WIT Empowerment Day Mentorship Series, which provides insight and advice from top toy industry experts.
By Stephanie Azzarone, President of Child’s Play Communications
Hosting a special event – for consumers and/or media – can be an engaging and effective way to generate attention to and excitement about a brand.
Child’s Play Communications has been responsible for developing a variety of attention-getting events – from intimate blogger parties to our own annual Kids’ & Family Tech Expo to the 20th Anniversary celebration for the Teletubbies. In the process, we’ve learned some lessons worth sharing:
- Plan ahead. Way ahead. Three months is good, six months is even better. Why? Because something will always go wrong if you wait to do anything last minute. And make sure up front that the date you choose doesn’t conflict with a holiday or someone else’s big announcement.
- Research your invitation list carefully. When it comes to a media list, e.g., the people you’ve known so well for so long may no longer be there (especially these days). Check for bounce backs and update your invitation list constantly as you go along.
- Start inviting early. For some events, we’ll send out a Save the Date six weeks ahead of time then remind people each week until the event. We’ll also follow up by phone to make sure they’ve seen the invitation.
- Choreograph your event. What happens when, in what order, at exactly what time? Make sure everyone involved knows precisely what their role is and identify an overall event manager to supervise.
- Think through every single detail. You’ve found the most spectacular location and your guest list is 100% perfection. But should the napkins for lunch be cloth or paper? And what kind of holder do you need for the registration sign? Do you want flowers or balloons or both, and what kind and color?
- Brand like crazy. Think about how you can use color schemes, logos, cut out characters, banners, even custom drinks and dishes to support the brand.
- Select your space carefully. Do you want a setting that is inherently attractive – located on the water or with a great view of the skyline, and furnished with everything you could possibly need – or a blank space that you can make your own?
- Thank you for coming! Decide if you will give guests a gift as they leave, what selection would be the most relevant and appealing – and what they will carry it in. Outline your plan for following up with them afterward.
- Be prepared for no-shows. A good 20-25% of those who RSVP will wind up not attending. Calculate that when planning your catering – or make sure you have contact information for a local food pantry.
- Keep detailed notes on everything you do. That will make the next event much easier!
Stephanie Azzarone is president of Child’s Play Communications, specialists in promoting kids’ products through public relations, special events, and social media.