Diving deeper and deeper into the PR world, I have begun to realize how things work and what makes people tick. Particularly, what seems to work best with publics and how those publics react to certain things. One tactic within the PR world are the use of promotions and events. These events often spearhead new campaigns as a way to get the word out or they can also be an annual organization fundraiser recognized better each year. That’s the goal, isn’t it? To reach the public effectively. I would like to discover a bit more about how, specifically, PR events work and the potential for benefits or mishaps.
There are many types of different PR events. Spiewak (2012), who is an account manager for Rhino Public Relations, shares that there are many types of events ranging from educational seminars, to network gatherings, celebrations, and fundraising events. These events all provide different means for companies, brands, and organizations to achieve one goal: creating relationships with publics. Prakash and Sharma (2010) explain that event marketing is all about consumer experiences by “creating a social setting for attendees and help raise attendees’ involvement level”. From this, it is clear that such a setting constructed through these events can be powerful within generating positivity and goodwill with publics. The relationships brands are able to foster are the backbone of that brand’s success and without good relationships, a brand is essentially doomed. From these events, attendees’ may be more susceptive to the images and advertisements associated with the brand (Prakash & Sharma, 2010).
Events can be used as a separate entity from PR, but are often integrated within a campaign whether direct from a corporation or from a firm on behalf of a client. Spiewak (2012) believes knowing your target audience is extremely important for these events. Ultimately, the event is an addition to many other public relations efforts being put into place, whether that be news articles or blogs, it is important to focus on any potential attendees, as well as journalists, photographers, and other press folk. She also emphasizes the planning process and how getting the word out, starting early, and hooking the intended audience should be the prominent focus (Spiewak, 2012). If an event is not marketed properly, an event can backfire on a brand. However, if an event is planned out, considering all aspects, has a clear rationale (Glickman, 2011), and is marketed well, the event can have may positive benefits within the realm of PR.
I had the chance to speak with an Associate Convention Manager at Ace Hardware, Joanne Shisler, who was able to provide some insight into the importance of events as a part of Ace. She began by explaining that Ace Hardware focuses their attention on their customers which is proven from the ranking Ace received from J.D. Power in 2016: “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Home Improvement Retail Stores, Ten Years in a Row”. This was all done by creating these relationships and maintaining them. I asked her to describe the importance of the events and she stated,
“Ace hosts 2 conventions per year, with an average attendance of 15,000 people in the spring and fall in various cities throughout the country, most recently last week in Atlanta, GA. The show is put on for the benefit of our Ace Retailers world-wide to join together under one roof to hear from top management on the state of our company and also to visit over 1,250 vendors on the show floor, to see the latest and greatest product and to take advantage of show specials and deals to help them stay competitive in their respective market places” (“About the Ace”, 2017).
Photos via Joanne Shisler
In the case, the conventions put on by Ace Hardware work internally allowing retailers that already work with Ace, retailers that are hoping to work with Ace, and many other Ace employees to build relationships from the inside. In additions to these, Ace also puts on parties, concerts, and dinners for networking purposes (“About the Ace”, 2017). Ultimately, these help reinforce the brand image that Ace seeks, which is a helpful and family-oriented environment.
With researching the basics of event planning and how it works as a part of the PR process, we can now understand why events are so helpful and how they are used to create bonds with publics. With a real-world corporation example from Ace Hardware, this is even easier to picture. Events are a key component to PR and PR campaigns and, if utilized correctly, can be a huge success in the goal of public relations.
About the Ace Hardware Conventions [E-mail interview]. (2017, March 17).
Glickman, B. (2011). Facebook. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from https://www.facebook.com/notes/glickman-productions/bring-back-the-bash-5-new-rules-for-experiential-and-event-marketing/209410462443037
Prakash V.K., & Sharma, K. P. (2010). Megamarketing an event using integrated marketing communications: the success story of TMH, Business Strategy Series. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from http://bit.ly/2nx8Ucg
Spiewak, M. (2012). It’s My Party: The Role of Public Relations in Event Planning. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from https://smpsboston.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/its-my-party-the-role-of-public-relations-in-event-planning/