What makes a press event tempting?
I don’t attend as many press functions as I should. I dislike smalltalk and calculated networking — mainly due to not being very good at them — and I get nervous. I also find it easier to consider in a more relaxed scenario, plus I’m allergic to long, boring speeches; they cause a severe reaction wherein my mouth keeps opening and inhaling lots of air. Oh, and I’m far more comfortable in Converse than a collar.
That all fussily said, I will go to an event (when possible) if it sounds like a fun or intriguing and definitely informal venue (see my Converse comment) and/or like there is sufficient work value. Unlike some of my counterparts, free drinks or food aren’t the determining factor!
The Aloha Collective — a quartet of one–(wo)man travel PR bands who are all chums — cleverly teamed up for such an event last week. They shared costs to hire out the space and produce goodie bags, divvied up invite duty and, cumulatively, offered a wide range and large number of clients to enquire or learn about. On top of that, the wide time slot — 1-7pm — made it easier to attend for a brief window.
As far as I could tell, this was a PR-only event, with no clients present. I loved that. Other journalists will, I think, disagree, but I personally prefer talking to you PRs than directly to your clients. While there is a chance of getting exclusive gold from them, clients will only, doggedly be pushing one brand (their own), whereas you typically have multiple offerings to discuss as well as a far greater sense of what works and what doesn’t. This is also why single-client events or meetings almost never tempt me.
The trick at events for PRs, I always reckon, is to have a few solid ideas ready to recite, and to be able to quickly yet seamlessly progress conversations from ‘how are you?’s onto pitching. Because if you don’t get a wiggle on, someone else will soon catch your eye, or say hello to the journalist, and then the opportunity has passed and an awkward, generally-unproductive three-way chat instead beckons.
I was rubbish at avoiding these in my PR career — which is among the good reasons why it ended!
What Richard Thinks…