5 Tips for Planning Engaging Press Events

Leading up to Super Bowl LVII, our friends at Weber Shandwick invited Sequence to collaborate with their client Danone—a leading multi-local food and beverage company—on a memorable press experience. We quickly knew that making an impression on busy journalists, in a time they’d be pulled in a million different directions, required some careful strategy.

So how exactly did we create a press event that garnered a whopping 4,000,000 media impressions? By synthesizing Danone’s key goals and creating a uniting “Sunday’s Together”-themed experience that celebrated all the different ways to spend a Sunday—including brunch, football, and grocery shopping—creating a natural tie-in with the company’s Oikos, International Delight, and Silk brands. We utilized a celebrity DJ, tasting stations, Insta-worthy photo ops, and a live viewing of the Pro Bowl to hook journalists, and topped it off with a sneak peek of Oikos’ Super Bowl ad starring NFL legend Deion Sanders.

In today's fast-paced media landscape, organizing events that capture the attention of the press requires thoughtful planning and execution, plus a healthy dose of creative thinking. Whether it’s a product launch, press conference, or an industry gathering like the Danone event, events that successfully engage the media can significantly impact a brand’s reputation and visibility, and garner that all-important press and social media coverage.

But it’s not quite as easy as sending an invite and hoping for the best. Here are some key tips for planning effective events for members of the press.

1. Clearly define your objectives. 

We love focusing on strategy here at Team SEQ, and leaning into our comprehensive discovery process to kick off the planning for events of all types. The same idea applies to press gatherings. Is your goal to generate media coverage, foster relationships with journalists, showcase a new product/service, or debut something new? 

Understanding your objectives—and developing clear talking points from the very beginning—will guide your planning process and help shape the event's structure and content, thereby giving you some benchmarks to measure the overall success of the event. 

Keep in mind: There may be more than one goal! For Danone, for example, the team wanted to premiere the new ad, but also to feature its three key brands and tell the press a story of how they work together in a single event. The client originally suggested it to be more focused on football directly—but by deeply understanding the brand’s objectives, we were able to see beyond football and tell a unifying story that allowed all these Danone brands to show up equally.

2. Have a clear news hook.

Members of the press are, by nature, seeking newsworthy content—and are often too busy to attend events that aren’t going to lead to a story now or down the line. At SEQ, we like to work closely with our clients and their PR teams to craft a compelling narrative that aligns with an event’s key objectives and resonates with journalists. For pre-event communications, develop key messages that highlight the unique aspects of your event, making it irresistible for media coverage.

This may take the form of a formal press release, which can be sent beforehand to help journalists decide if your story is worthy of their coverage. But remember: Journalists get a lot of press releases and invites every week, so keep it concise, informative, and personalized. Highlight the event's significance and key details, and emphasize exactly why journalists should attend. Consider incorporating multimedia elements like images or infographics to enhance the appeal, and be sure to note if one-on-interviews with speakers or executives will be available.

3. Don’t neglect the small details, like the power of surprise and delight.

Remember that journalists attend a lot of events—and let’s be honest, not everyone is easily impressed. Every detail of your press event is a reflection of your company and should be consistent with your brand, so consider that when you’re designing the space. 

Members of the press often have decent followings on social media, so be sure to create share-worthy moments and encourage photo ops (a great place to introduce subtle company branding or dedicated event hashtags!). Remember, the media will ideally be sharing the image you present to the public—so make sure it’s a good one.

4. Set aside time for one-on-one interviews or other key messaging moments.

Whether the event includes a formal press conference or just a quick speech from an executive, it’s crucial to make sure any messaging moments are optimized. Plan those moments for when most attendees are likely to be on site (a.k.a., not right at the beginning or right at the end of the event!), and tell journalists in advance what time that programming will begin in case they can’t attend the entire gathering. 

When possible, allocate time for Q&A sessions to allow members of the press to clarify information and gather additional insights. Or, take it a step further by offering exclusive interview opportunities with key speakers, executives, or subject matter experts. These one-on-one sessions can provide journalists with unique angles for their stories and allow for in-depth discussions. Coordinate schedules in advance, and ensure a comfortable and quiet space for interviews to take place.

5. Follow up with post-event materials.

Before the event even begins, we work with clients and their PR teams to develop press messaging that has background information about the company and relevant information about what was discussed. You can still update it with photos, event summaries, additional quotes, and any other timely details after the event—but having it mostly ready to go ensures your post-event materials can be sent quickly. In those communications, be sure to thank journalists for coming and ask if they need anything else for coverage.