Thursday, 21 November 2013

For Hosting the Perfect Event

Media & industry website invited me to write a guest blog for them, on tips and tricks for beauty events.

The beauty event is like an island within the sea of all other media events. Like a celebrity beauty regimen, it has its own strict rules and requirements and comparative to other events, has a relatively small and exclusive guest list. There are no more than a max of 50 core beauty media and bloggers in Sydney. So how do you throw an event that stands out from the crowd and equates into digital buzz as well as old-school column inches?

Given that I run an event calendar for a living, I confess – sometimes I wonder whether all of them are really necessary? There are so many fantastic events, and a lot of not-so-great ones. The bottom line is they can be expensive, so there are times when other marketing strategies would be just as effective for a fraction of the price. One beauty editor stated that six out of 10 beauty events she attended were a “waste of time”. She stated that often a boardroom presentation or simply a media send out would be just as effective. Food for thought.

People often ask me whether I ever get sick of going to so many events, and my response is always – “no…not yet!” I even enjoy the really atrocious events because I’m constantly amazed how brands can spend so much money and achieve such a dismal result. I learn SO much from every single one. What puzzles me is they often get the BASICS so wrong…

Some tips:
-You’ll never get as many people as you think you will.
This is Sydney – there are A LOT of parties on, all the time (don’t even start me on November). Why go to all the expense if you don’t invite enough people and there are tumbleweeds in the room? The golden formula is double it and add some more. For the bigger fragrance events, if you want 300 people in the room you need 380 RSVPs which means you need to invite up to 700 people. No-one believes this scary fact until they’re standing at the door with a clipboard and wondering where the hell everyone is…

-If you’re having a sit-down lunch, it can halve RAPIDLY
Beauty events tend to be small, so can look empty very easily. If you want 16 people seated at the table, take a minimum of 22 RSVPs. Yes, at least 6 will drop out the morning of. Like flies. People get stuck at work and can’t leave. I bet you won’t ever have to put an extra chair in…

-Comfort is king
My mother’s BEST event advice ever - no-one will care about the squillions you’ve spent on the bells and whistles if they can’t do three simple things: get a drink, eat some food, and go to the loo without waiting in a queue for half an hour. If people have to wait to get a drink, they moan. If people can’t get anything to eat, they leave. You get the drift.

-WOW factor
Work out whether you should really be doing an event. Can you be innovative and stand out in a cluttered market? My worst nightmare is the ‘drink-canapĂ©-speech-goodie bag’ type of event. YAWN. Where’s your WOW factor? Your reveal? Your moment? If you can’t incorporate one, don’t do it.

Venue/food/invitations cost money, creativity doesn’t have to. I love events that have the guests interacting in some way – if they’re having fun, they drop their guard and it becomes instantly memorable. It can be as simple as including a photo booth (it’s a perennial crowd-pleaser and Polite in Public do it best.)

-Be visual
If you want your guests to spread your message across social media, give them lots of things to take pictures of. LOTS! At our parties we always have props that guests can ‘play’ with - jump into, jump on... anything they can take a pic of themselves doing, they will share like crazy. If the props are client-related, it’s a winner.

-Communicate your hashtag
Always have your event hashtag and client social media handles on clear display, such as on the menu, place-cards or screens. At parties we are expected to hashtag but then you’re running around trying to find out what it is. At Social Diary Halloween we put them EVERYWHERE, including the back of the bar staff’s t-shirts and even the loos!

-Organise transport
If budget allows, it’s ALWAYS appreciated for beauty events. A lot of journos have to pay for their own cabs to be reimbursed way down the track, and bloggers have no one to reimburse them. Some will even avoid going to events where they know it’s impossible to get a cab home, so even if you can’t afford to pay for them, state that a fleet of taxis has been ordered for departure.

-Start too early.
Breakfasts at 7:30am can be an issue for mums and can eat into personal time such as the gym - 8:30am/9am starts are better.

-Be too far away.
Avoid any venue more than 15 minutes away from the CBD, and if it HAS to be further, transport is mandatory.

-Make them over-mingle.
Beauty eds attend up to 10 events a week. They love and see each other ALL the time, but as one said “there’s a limit to how many times you can ask someone about their weekend”.
They are a punctual lot, so keep the arrival time to 10 mins.

-Drag on too long.
Media are as time-poor as ever, with magazine staffers doing the job of three pre-2008 media. Avoid going longer than 90 minutes.

-Death by Powerpoint
Enough said.

Perhaps an idea is to ask yourself one simple question whilst planning: "Will our event be up for a beautydirectory Star Award?" If not…go back to the drawing board!

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