Planning a Successful Book Event

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By Deborah Kohan, Partner at MEDIA CONNECT

If you are above the age of 25, chances are that you have planned an event of some sort whether it was a birthday party, wedding, or a simple vacation.  While we all know that organization, a checklist and a timeline are the keys to success in the planning and execution of an event, there are different considerations and tactics for a successful book event. In fact, the very first question you should be answering is what do you and/or your client consider success?  Is it raising awareness amongst consumers or is it media coverage from reporters who attend the event?

This past year, Media Connect was fortunate enough to work on several events, including: The Federal Enforcement Homeland Security Foundations Ridge Awards where over 500 federal agents gathered in NYC to honor the outstanding and often unknown service of their fellow agents; a book launch hosted by famed designer Donna Karan, at Urban Zen for author Deirdre Hade; and a Good Deeds Day street fair in Herald Square centered on “doing good activities.”   In each case, our goal was a different.  While we were pursuing media coverage for each event, for Good Deeds Day we were also working towards packing Herald Square with participants.   Our strategies varied, as did the media we approached.  Below we’ve shared a few insider tips to consider employing when planning your own event.

Pre-Event Planning

Determine Not Just the Who but the When: Once you know what media you would like to have attend to cover your event, finalize the timing and location.  Two important considerations when determining event location and time are deadlines and travel.  Do the reporters you are targeting have deadlines? If so, when are they?  Planning a Wednesday lunch event for a reporter who files her stories on Wednesdays at 4pm will obviously not be conducive to her attending.  If the location is too far or inconvenient, media attendance will suffer.  Plan logistics carefully and check the calendar for holidays and potentially competing events so as to maximize attendance.

Getting the Word Out

Event Websites: If your event is open to the public such as a book signing or speaking engagement that is part of a book fair, take advantage of the internet and place details on every event website possible.  It’s a simple tactic that will help increase foot traffic.  A few of the larger event websites have to be pitched (such as Time Out) and it is at their discretion whether or not they place the event on their site.  Others allow you to place the information on the website yourself and include photos.  In addition to the broader event sites, approach the local television and radio websites, and subject matter sites that might be interested (e.g. – Mommy Poppins or Red Tricycle for a kids’ event).

If you utilize this strategy, we recommend creating a generic email for all event queries to go to (info@eventname.com) so you are not cluttering your own inbox or giving random people unnecessary access to you.  Our Good Deeds Day efforts netted us over 25 listings for the event including: Time Out NY, EventBrite, ILoveNY.com, CBS Local TV, NYC.com, Eventful, All Events.  Our on the ground, day-of survey of participants revealed that many had discovered the event through these listings.

Ensuring Success Day-Of

The worst feeling is pulling off a successful event and then realizing that the reporter you invited from USA Today actually attended and you did not know or connect with them.   Best practices for avoiding this scenario and capitalizing on opportunities include:

▪ Strategic Placement Of Your Team:  Place one member of your team at the venue entrance so when a reporter checks in, they can introduce themselves and escort them inside and directly to you or another team member.  Think of it as “reporter hospitality.”  That team member should then return to the entrance to corral the next reporter.

▪ A Look Book: Create a ‘book’ that contains photos with names and affiliations of all key attendees so that you and your team can locate them while circulating the room.  If you don’t have photos, another tactic is to have the team member who is posted at the door text a quick description of the reporters to you when they check-in so that you can identify them.

We’ve planned and executed hundreds of events from book signings and book launch parties to press conferences.  Always remember to think about your ultimate goal and gear all of your decisions towards that goal.  However, the most important item to remember when planning an event?  Enjoy it.

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