Dec 26, 2017 / by Lacey Miller

Events are an important part of most well-rounded PR strategies for good reasons. They often bring together a valuable mix of prospects, industry experts, customers, and press. They offer an opportunity to see how the competition is positioning their brand, and most events feature interesting speakers and useful content. The downside of events is that they are relatively expensive. You may have sponsorship costs if you exhibit or pay for promotion. You’ll likely have travel costs, and at a bare minimum, attendees will be out of the office and unable to see to other priorities. 

That’s why it is so disappointing when you go to an event and it is a bust, but it happens. You show up, and there aren’t as many attendees as expected, or maybe plenty of folks are there, but they aren’t your target audience. Perhaps a planned meeting with a journalist falls through or a competitor goes all in and makes a huge splash. You’ve made a financial and resource investment in a trade show, conference, or expo and it just didn’t pan out. Now what? Don’t despair. You may not have the immediate results you expected, but there’s still a lot to do to get the most out of your investment from a PR perspective. Here are five solid ideas.  

Blog About the Event

Blogging is a crucial PR strategy for increasing website traffic and improving search rankings. (Two critical PR metrics.) Even if the in-person experience at the event was less than optimal, you could still gain from your attendance by writing a post or two about what happened. (We are not recommending that you publicly announce that it was terrible.)  You might write about the purpose of the event, the kinds of people who attended, the networking opportunities, the venue, and the city. Your goal is to rank as high as possible when someone Googles the event name. If it is an annual event, you’ll want to come up in search results next year as well.
Connect with the Presenters

If you are disappointed in the outcome of the event, the people who presented probably are as well. Like you, they may be looking for ways to get more out of the time and effort that was put into their participation. Reach out to them to see if they might be willing to do a guest post on your blog, or perhaps they will write about the event on their own properties and link back to your site. You might also ask the presenters about other events in which they are involved. They may even have good insight into different ways to reach your target prospects. It’s always a good idea to connect with the presenters on social media; they may turn out to be useful influencers. 

Create “Everything You Missed” Content

Just because an event was sparsely attended, doesn’t mean the content wouldn’t be useful to your audience. (Maybe they just didn’t want to go to Fargo in January or Phoenix in August.) The post-event period is a great time to create content (email, blog, eBook, video, etc.) that recaps important topics covered at the event. What were the key themes? Was anything surprising or new announced or discussed? Where do you see the conversation evolving? This type of content positions your brand as a valuable resource for useful information and insight.

Leverage Social Amplification

The event itself may have been underwhelming, but your social response shouldn’t be. In addition to connecting with the presenters, be sure to engage with the organizers and any attendees that you did happen to meet. Send them a tweet acknowledging your interaction and inviting them to continue the conversation. Be sure to use social media to broadcast any blogs or other content that you do create and look for similar content created by others that you can share. Social media is a give and take proposition, so it is as important to engage with the posts of others as it is to share your own.

Take the Opportunity to Learn

The worst mistakes are those that we repeat, so if you’ve attended an event that just didn’t work out, you are obliged to figure out why. Consider the nature of the event; perhaps your audience is more attracted to smaller, regional forums than large national conferences (or vice versa). Maybe the time of year was not optimal, or the location was not a draw. It could also be that the topics weren’t attractive or that the organizers didn’t market the event effectively. Whatever the cause, it is essential to understand it and use that information to drive future decisions.

It’s too bad that the event wasn’t great, but if you use these tips all is not lost. You can still get some PR benefits, make useful connections, and improve your results for next time.

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About Lacey Miller

Passionate about public relations and empowering practitioners, Lacey Miller found her dream job at TrendKite, where she carries the crown of 'word nerd'. With a background in public relations and technology, she's a great fit with her desire to innovate the industry! You can find her most days writing for PR Forward, PRSA, and other marketing trade publications.