Friday, 3 December 2010

When NOT To Hold Your Event

This blog was inspired by all the media who have grumbled to me this week about the number of events on in late November/ December. Honestly, it really pisses them off - and they are also genuinely disappointed that they have to miss out on covering some fabulous events. Additionally, lots of PRs are upset that they're not getting much coverage - often absolutely none at all. It's the same every single year, but nothing ever changes.

Social Diary came along to stop clashes throughout the year but even I have to throw my hands up in the air from late Nov and admit that it's every man for himself. It's hard to imagine why you would purposely launch a product now so I can only guess it's actually the clients who are forcing PRs to do it?  When will the madness stop!

Ros Reines at The Sunday Telegraph says "I wish that organisers would think of having parties closer to Christmas when we are really scratching around for events to cover on the social pages. Once we hit December 20 it all goes deadly quiet. Sure a lot of people have left town but there are plenty of A-listers returning home who want to party."

Shelly Horton at The Sun-Herald says "As it stands we've had more than 20 events a week in November, with one week having 32. Xmas Parties we understand, but launches...move them to January! At the moment we don't have a single event from Dec 20th-26th and January is a wasteland."

Amy Cooper at The Sun-Herald concurs: "It's a sinful waste of good parties when they're clumped over 3 weeks in Nov/Dec. We have to ignore a lot, then there's nothing on throughout January."

The downside of doing events in Late Nov/Dec:
-You're competing with:
a) Xmas Parties for every brand, agency, publishing title & TV show
b) specific end-of-year events such as Awards for x, y & z
c) specific anniversaries
d) Kick-offs for Summer activities
-There's limited space in the papers so even if it's brilliant, there's a chance you'll get no coverage
-Guests tend to pop in and out faster than you can say 'another canape?' because they're running between so many events

Although 'tis the season to be jolly - don't forget that literally EVERYONE else is getting their jolly on too. Whilst it's definitely the right time for events described above, do you really think you should be launching a new product into market around this time?
If you don't care about media coverage then absolutely go for it, but if coverage is a key factor for doing the event in the first place you may want to reconsider.

After 6 years of running Social Diary I've noticed there are consistently the same gaps in the annual party calendar - so perhaps you should consider filling some of these:

The Week of Christmas
I know it sounds crazy - but think about it. Whoever has the sense to do a party between Dec 20th-Dec 27th is basically guaranteed coverage. There is literally  nothing on. It would be a no-brainer for a venue to throw something fun for their VIPs and regulars and clean up media-wise.

January, January, JANUARY!
I tell Social Diary members every year to consider January but so few do! There seems to be a general fear that everybody is away, but rest assured many people stick around in Sydney in January and they're itching to party. The media are always desperate for content as well, as most PRs are on hols. One year I held a simple drinks event for 80 people on January 12th and got Party of the Week! As Shelly says, "January is a wasteland". When I was running Breakfast PR I held as many events in January as possible and my clients were always thrilled with the results.

Don't overlook August
Party season officially starts on September 1st, but August is a fabulous month for an event. How do I know this? Because it's my birthday on August 6th and every year without fail it's a stunning day in Sydney. People tend to avoid both July & August fearing Wintery weather but it's often really nice, and most importantly - it's generally DRY.

Public Holiday Weeks
PRs tend to naturally avoid doing events on the Thursday before a long weekend or the Tuesday after a Public Holiday Monday. Most likely because they fear a lot of people will be away, or ironically, 'exhausted after the long weekend'. The irony is, if you pick a Tuesday after a long weekend you are likely to have far less competitors. People also tend to avoid the week of Melbourne Cup which is why I thought it was the perfect night for the Social Diary Xmas Party this year -  I figure it could be the permanent night moving forward. It's usually the very first Xmas Party to kick off the season, and it's no accident that it's well and truly out of the way of the madness.

But if you simply must hold a launch during this period...

Avoid boats and dinners
When there's 10 big events in a night, media are forced to party-hop in order to cover as much as they can. Amy Cooper says if you do a dinner or an event on a boat, this is virtually impossible - they are just too difficult to 'pop into'. The same goes for events which are a bit further out of the CBD/East: if there's too much travel time, your event won't make it onto the hopping agenda.

Consider a lunch instead
One major social journo says they much prefer lunches during this period - while another says it's too exhausting to get it together for lunch after being out every night. So it's a 50/50 decision here, but if you do decide to do one - always keep it short & sweet. Have guests in and out in less than 2 hrs...1.5 ideally.  However, it can be hard to get guests to leave the office in the middle of the day. People can get to work in the morning and suddenly be swamped - meaning that leaving for a couple of hours is simply not possible. For this reason, ALWAYS oversubscribe your lunch to account for drop-outs the morning of.

Which Day of The Week Is Best?
Traditionally, certain events fall on certain days of the week:

Monday: restaurant industry night
Tuesday: media launch

Wednesday: media launch
Thursday: media party
Friday: consumer party
Saturday: charity ball
Sunday: bar industry night

Most bar/food/restaurant events happen on a Sunday or Monday night given that less hospitality staff work on these nights and many restaurants are closed on a Monday. Tuesdays & Wednesdays are the most popular nights for a media product launch (with both going up and down in popularity over the years - it seems to be all about Wednesday night at the moment) and Thursday night is the best if you're launching something but want your guests to let their hair down, being the end of the week the following day. For this reason, the Social Diary Xmas Parties will always be on a Thursday night! Friday & Saturday media events are rare given the fact that they are less likely to be covered by the papers, so Fridays are great for consumer events and Saturdays are the mainstay of the charity ball.

Choose wisely my party throwing friends!

xxx Tiff

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