How to Use Digital PR for Events

How to Use Digital PR for Events

2nd September 2015

The events industry is one of many that needs to rely on its digital PR and marketing in order to thrive. Attending events and exhibitions have typically been very traditional and the slowest of industries to catch on to digital outreach, but those days are over. As the events industry is becoming increasingly competitive and with new events in different sectors cropping up every year, the smartest option is to adopt digital and invest digital PR into your promotional activity.

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Why digital PR for events are different?

  • Its time sensitive: Events happen in a certain time period, whether for 1 day, over a weekend or a whole month. This means you need to ensure your links are going to the right pages and that the PR is very active right to the lead up of the event. Digital PR for events has to be aggressive to get enough traction from various sites over a small period of time.
  • It’s not just for SEO: Event brands such as BBC already have a great domain authority, this means that their digital PR has to be a balance between sites that have a high domain authority and have a large audience and social following. The traffic to the site to generate ticket sales is the biggest objective for digital PR for events.
  • It heavily relies on traditional PR tactics: Event brands would generally have had traditional PR in place before they decided to adopt its digital sibling. This means the digital and traditional activity needs to work in harmony. This could be in the form of a meeting with their traditional PR agency, regular updates on where they have gained PR hits in print and where you can complement their work. Events adopting digital is still growing, so you maybe in the position of introducing an event to a blogger or a journalist for the very first time.
  • Bloggers can be more influential: Usually using Digital PR for SEO, you normally prioritise your sites by domain authority and target the highest first. This means that some popular bloggers with a low DA can be missed. Digital PR for events is different and the influence of a site and its writer should be considered first. If you see a group of fantastic bloggers that ring true to the brand and the event and hold an influence, then make first these your priority to outreach to.
  • Content plays a bigger role: Depending on the event and its pull for attendees. This could be in the shape of celebrities, a main area or big end event. In order for a customer to have a good onsite journey, content such as details, interviews, recipes, key takeaways and imagery will be hosted to give the consumer enough details to make an informative decision to attend the event. This information is gold for digital PR. It makes the sell in more varied with the opportunity to use a variety of different types of content and pulls for a site to feature.
  • It is normally regionalised: Events normally happen in either one or a select number of places, therefore the digital PR will need to be regionalised to local sites. If the event is in London or another city, you maybe get more mileage in the bigger sites such as the nationals.


Tactics to use for digital PR

  • Content sell in: Segment the content to what is going to be relevant to what type of site. For example if you have a number of BBQ recipes and cake recipes, use the cake recipes for parenting, crafts, baking blogs and home titles and use the BBQ recipes for men’s fitness, lifestyle and dieting titles.
  • Social sell in: Leverage the titles that have a great social following for competitions, content sell in and mentions. This will drum up interest from their social followers.
  • Promotional codes and discount offers: Use promotion codes and discount offers to attract more sites to feature. If possible, exclusive promo codes with the title’s name will act as more of a pull for the site to feature the event.
  • Competition and giveaways: Use tickets and products that relate to the brand to offer on magazine and blogs who regularly host competitions. Try and steer clear from sites that are solely competitions as they will not expose the event to genuine fans and just to competition goers. Look at cookery books for food festivals, latest albums for music events and celebrity merchandise for celebrity focused events.
  • Search trend data: If you have a mass of content, you can look at the search trend data and find if a certain band, celebrity, recipe or particular search term you can take advantage of.
  • City guides and event listings: This is not typically digital PR, but using digital PR tactics can get you into the biggest city guides such as Time Out. Make sure to look at competing events to see where they have been featured in event listings.
  • Exclusives: Such as interviews with the talent that will be appearing at the event or access to the event on build up day is always a great way to get a large site to feature the event during the run up.

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How to prepare your digital PR for the big event

-Collaborate on an editorial calendar with the client: Organisers and the brand will be doing a number of marketing activity in the run up to the event. To make things more transparent, a suggestion of a collaborative Google Doc for the client and yourself to ensure that the right content and promotions are being sold at the right time.

-Create a wish list of what you ideally want before promotional work kicks off: This is crucial for when you start planning your digital PR strategy for an event. You need to ensure that you have all the information, content, contacts of the talent’s PR, imagery and discount information when before you start out. You do not want to wait until a journalist requests an image you do not have or when your lack of PR is down to a lack of content.

-Make sure the client is privy to the reporting structure they will be receiving and the frequency: With events, reporting is key. It helps both the agency in all departments and the client know how well the event is being received. Before the event is over, frequent reporting will let everyone know if a particular marketing tactic needs to be ramped up.

Events that use Digital PR:

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BBC Good Food Eat Well Show:

This year, the BBC Good Food Show brand launched their first ever healthy eating exhibition that focused on eating and living well. The Good Food Eat Well Show came in perfect timing for the New Year where most people vowing to change their diets and lifestyle. For a brand that normally recruits a lot of traditional types of marketing, they were used to same core demographic that enjoys the Good Food brand and the events they held. As the Eat Well brand was something different, more on trend and recruited a younger style of talent and celebrity chefs, the brand needed to change tact.

They used digital PR to recruit food editors to feature stock recipes and hold interviews with up and coming chefs and diet experts. Lifestyle and health and fitness bloggers were approached to feature the healthy recipes and host giveaways to their followers.

Another step into driving more interest and traffic to the site was to work with fitness brands that would complement the Good Food Eat Well event. Brands that’s included gyms, health clubs and boot camps and personal trainers that held a large social following were encouraged to host competitions and share healthy related content from the brand.

Overall, the BBC Good Food Eat Well reach a plethora of audience types that would have found the event newsworthy to them and featured a number of different types of content to avoid duplicate content.

SOD- Time Out CompVFestival- 2015:

VFestival is split into locations; Chelmsford and Staffordshire. The festival is one of the large festivals that draw in a number of artists from around the world. The annual music festival is aimed at the younger generation that will most likely be their first festival. For this reason, VFestival created shareable content that could be PR’d. The content included what to pack, the rules and how to enjoy the music festival safely. Speaking of content, their line up flyers came in a variety of formats and sold in to the relative sites that were featuring the festival.

Competitions and brand collaborations were used to draw up more interest as the run up to the festival heated up. The festival also hijacked on news topics such as the weather to further promote the festival as a great place to go, rain or shine. Virgin also relied on their technical background and sold in story of how their luxurious Yurts are the most tech savvy yet.

This year, the VFestival brand came up with content and a number of different angles varying from the weather, brand collaborations and the technical attributes of their camping lodgings. This year, they didn’t need to rely on the headline acts to generate great links.

Events are still an untapped market when it comes to fully buying into integrated marketing and can be a great case study maker when executed well. The biggest things to remember when looking to include Digital PR for your event is plan, set your KPI’s and get the balancing act right. Keep in mind of quality links Vs velocity links and high domain authority to high social influence. Content can play a big role, but only if its sold in through Digital PR.



Written By
Jodie Harris heads up the Digital PR division at MediaVision. She has worked in publication relations since 2008. She specialises in bringing the rules of traditional PR to a digital platform.
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