Events remain one of the most effective ways to place a brand in front of key influencers, and their popularity has rocketed over the past year within the PR industry. Blogger events can be as niche or as wide-reaching as you need and when done right, will help you build long-term relationships to call upon again and again. But if you’ve ever invited bloggers to an event and they haven’t replied, or worse still, not turned up, you may be wondering where you went wrong.
It is common for our team at Stickyeyes to organise events for 10 or 20 bloggers but more recently, we successfully hosted a much larger scale event for 100 bloggers in central London on behalf of one of our clients. After five years offering this service, we’ve some first-hand experience that could help you make sure your event is impossible to say no to.
So why don’t bloggers come to your event?
1. No irresistible hook
Inviting bloggers to ‘learn about your product’ is not enough. Nobody wants to take time out of their day jobs or away from their family simply to be sold to. Your event should be useful, unique, a ‘money can’t buy’ experience. They should leave feeling like they have got more out of the event than your brand has.
2. Bad timing
Apply a good dose of common sense and even ask your target audience what time and day they’d prefer the event to take place. Don’t apply the same time and day to every event you plan, as bloggers and circumstances are unique. Twitter is great for getting quick feedback like this. Avoid full day events unless you can jam-pack every minute with something exciting.
3. If the shoe doesn’t fit…
Do not expect fashion bloggers to cover the latest restaurant opening or for food bloggers to learn about the latest mobile phone technology. They might come along out of curiosity but if they do write about it, that content is going to stick out like a very unnatural sore thumb to their readers (and Google). Also be realistic and match your client to the right size blogger. The general rule of thumb is the more fans they have, the more zeroes will be on their request for payment.
4. Forgetting life outside London
I know it’s easy to hold your event in London and if it’s relevant, do so. But ask yourself (and them) where your target bloggers reside? Don’t disregard bloggers beyond the Watford Gap when planning your event. There is a wealth of talent that stretches the length and breadth of the country, so take your event to them. They’re worth it and they will love your brand all the more for doing so.
5. Treating invites like press releases
The fastest way to get your invitation deleted is to write ‘Dear blogger’, so don’t do it. Take time to learn their name – note their real name isn’t always the same as they blog name, so don’t try that either. Craft a warm, friendly email, with all the details they’ll need to know to make the right decision. You’ll spend a lot of time answering questions at this stage, so ensure you have the time in your schedule to answer them.
6. Planning an event for next week
We’ve all been there; a brief lands on your desk and mild panic sets in when the client says they want this to happen next week. Be realistic. It’s possible, but are the top-notch bloggers going to be available? Probably not. The best ones are always busy, so plan at least three months ahead for the results your client will expect.
7. “Bloggers love Cupcakes!”
Bloggers also appreciate not being pigeon-holed, so give that a go instead. Forget what trends you think they’ll like, try something new. Hire street food vans for your catering. Get a mixologist to create a signature cocktail just for the event. Use fashion stylists to give demonstrations or arrange meet and greets with interesting folk. Make your event stand out against the saturation of the cupcakes.
8. Setting out contracts
You may have a client requesting each blogger writes a post, sends 10 tweets, and mentions the brand in a positive light. Should your event be a corker, you’ll be sure to meet those objectives. Just don’t tell the bloggers this is required of them straight off, especially if you aren’t paying them for their time. They owe you nothing. You have to earn their trust and encourage them, never force.
9. A bad hashtag
Either create one that fits into the tweets you expect, for example, “I can’t wait to go to the #clientbrandname event tomorrow!” Or try to be funny with a good old-fashioned pun, catchphrase or something memorable. Triple check your hashtag isn’t already used or is too common, as that will scupper your reporting when tracking mentions. Give your attendees the hashtag right at the beginning, so they can chat to each other or arrange meeting up beforehand.
10. Leaving them to look after themselves
Someone representing the brand needs to be at the event. Just like you wouldn’t leave a journalist on their own, don’t assume bloggers can have a good time without you. It’s the perfect time to make connections face-to-face so if you have the chance, go and meet them. This point extends from bedroom bloggers to millionaire YouTubers, everyone likes to see a friendly face, make sure it’s yours.
If the above has inspired you to get planning your next event, my final piece of advice would be this: Start by listing negative scenarios that could realistically happen at your event and how you plan to eliminate this risk for your brand or client. You do not want to be the brand I read about recently who served food containing nuts to a nut allergic blogger. Severe illness coupled with over 10,000 loyal Twitter followers is quite the recipe for disaster.