Events part one – Content comes first: reviving the lost art of event storytelling

We all know content plays a critical role in your PR and marketing strategies – forming the foundation for audience engagement and ensuring the right messages resonate with the right audiences. But what about when it comes to events? Your events calendar is most likely full of exhibitions, seminars, roadshows and conferences. Do you consider a content strategy to be vital here? Does it influence your tactics?

The answer to both questions should be yes.

These events are not isolated instances. They should be tied together by an overarching strategy that supports the marketing and PR goals of your business. In the same vein you need to ensure your content strategy does the same thing; joining all events together with a unified theme across the visual representation, presentations, collateral and event communications.

Whatever that may look like, by developing content in advance, you can use it to feed into activities, guiding sales teams on the ground, providing insights for spokespeople to deliver during presentations, and supplying valuable information to customers and prospects pre, during and post-event.

Strategy: setting the tone with theme and narrative

A good starting point is to review the objectives for the business and the marketing strategy for the year – and develop a theme aligned to these goals and the audiences you need to engage and influence. The theme then helps you develop your narrative, what you want to say and how you want to say it. In its simplest form, this all about storytelling; taking the audience on a journey, by capturing and keeping their attention with a valuable message that resonates.

The narrative will inform the tactical selection and determine what types of assets are needed and what they need to accomplish. Importantly, it’s not just about setting the scene at the event with the right messages, your narrative needs to stretch across the lifecycle of the event.

Relevance: the heart of your assets

The permutations of content are endless, from social tiles, infographics, blogs and emails, to eBooks, whitepapers, guides, top tips and video snippets. But what remains the same is the value they bring to your end audience; the content needs to be relevant, demonstrate that you understand their industry, their challenges and have the solutions to address those issues. More than that, your storytelling needs to engage readers and be less about selling to them and more about helping them solve their business problems. This in turn will build trust with your brand and keep it front of mind when an opportunity arises.

Tactics: delivering the content

Your content assets will vary from event to event, dependent on the aims of each. To illustrate an example, for the launch of a piece of propriety research, you could use a news release to generate industry coverage supported by interactive social tiles to create awareness across digital channels and use select statistics for a direct mail campaign to prospects, to tease the upcoming launch and drive registration to the upcoming event. The research report could then be exclusively launched at the seminar during speaker presentations and interest captured (a lead generation opportunity) to receive a full copy.    Finally, post event you could stage a webinar based on the key findings and supported with a series of blogs to continue to recycle the asset.

If the aim of your event is to further amplify your messaging, increase awareness and win share of voice at a busy show, you could use your narrative to create hype based on what you’re doing on stand and use interactive pieces of content like live demos and video, supported with social promotion live tweeting and blog content. Post event, you could release an exclusive eBook based on solving an industry challenge that’s linked to the key concerns for prospects.

Related: Event Series – Turning an event into a prime media relations opportunity

Related: Event Series – Getting the most out of your social media strategy at events

Related: Event Series Webinar Summary – Redefining event marketing: Plan for success

Follow-on: moving beyond the event

The great thing about the assets you create as part of your content strategy is that they can be used before, during and after the event. They can be repackaged and re-purposed, and used for related (or follow-on) marketing and social media campaigns. Whether that’s giving prospects access to a hero piece of content, such as an eBook or whitepaper, or inviting them to a webinar or podcast and carrying on with a blog programme, your event content strategy can help you achieve the results you’re after, reinforce your messaging and guide prospects through the sales funnel.

Susan Richter, Head of Content

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