Whether on-site on the conference floor, or assisting the client with conference duties from the office, a PR professional still has a lot of work to do to gain client trust and earn media respect.
Working on site
Be over prepared. It’s a pain to travel with office supplies and clients can often overload you with their branded materials to share with media. But having the extra pen, notebook or agenda handy when coming across a reporter in need is always a plus. Spend time studying the venue layout and be ready to answer agenda questions from press in order to quickly direct them to the right place.
Protect the press room. It seems like an antiquated notion but the press room at conferences still exists and has value. Even in the age of mobile devices, many journalists will park themselves in front of their laptop in the press room throughout the conference, especially if they are blogging or filing stories throughout the day. It’s important to maintain the sanctity of the room, ensuring the working environment is for media only and that any issues are resolved quickly. It is your job to ensure media attendees feel comfortable in this work space and are provided with the appropriate accommodations such as outlets to plug in, refreshments and enough chairs to sit in. A mishandled press room shouldn’t be a bad memory for journalists after the conference!
Keep your head up. In other words, beware of always staring into your phone. Checking for emails and texts can be important to stay in the loop, but being more engaged with your phone than with media or the client is noticeable. It can make you seem unapproachable when you need to be the most accessible contact on site. It’s best to stay present at all times when you’re on site—you never know when a reporter or client might be looking for your assistance.
Working from the sidelines
Check in judiciously. There’s a lot going on at conferences for both the client and the journalist. Aside from understanding their daily schedules, think from their perspective about which communications are most important. Often a message can wait, particularly if it’s not related to the event itself. Wrap up emails that capture critical points in a single message are often the most useful.
Stay up on social. Even the most social media-minded clients are often too busy during events to carefullymonitor social channels, so among the best value you can bring regarding event support is consistently monitoring hashtags, media attendees’ social handles and trending topics. Depending on the situation, flagging social mentions or complaints in real-time can be a lifesaver for a client. Sometimes simply catching a post on the Wi-Fi being down can allow the issue to be fixed immediately and avoid a larger issue from occurring.
Don’t underestimate a phone call. Just like calling a journalist with a pitch rather than emailing it can often yield a great interaction, a quick call to a client at an event can go a long way. It offers a personal touch rather than just another email filling up his or her inbox, and allows them to share feedback, frustrations, successes and needs efficiently.
Conference season is a frenetic one all around, but polished PR support during this time can mean the difference between an average conference and one that solidifies client and media relationships.
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