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Publicity Planning for a Conference

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 28 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Conference Publicity Planning Marketing

When planning a conference it's important to make all the publicity material available to whoever needs it and make sure that the facilities are there for them too. In the article on marketing we covered the publicity in the sense of attracting people to the conference with marketing and advertising. This article is about planning the publicity environment for the conference, which involves making sure that the information is in the right hands and that it is made easy for it to get out into the public domain.

Planning for facilities for journalists and other press and marketing staff should be easy if you are using a professional conference venue, as they ought to be in place as part of the package. If you are using another venue, for example a hotel or a university that does conferences as well, then you may have to make sure there is a room set aside for members of the press, if not two.

Press Rooms for Publicity Material

The first room should be drop in point for publicity where anyone who needs information can come and get it. It ought to be a separate room just to keep it away from the hustle and bustle of the conference. It's best if you can staff it with someone who has complete access and knowledge to the advertising and marketing material for the conference so that they can make sure that a consistent message is given out.

This room used to be a place where telephones, and perhaps typewriters too, could be provided for journalists to use, but in these days of multi-functional laptops and mobile phones that's no longer necessary. If you decide not to have one, make sure at least that one of the conference support staff is designated as a publicity liaison officer who can get press people the information they require.

The second room, again if you think there will be a need for it, should be kept clear for interviews. It should be kept as quiet as possible with just a few comfortable chairs and a table, and perhaps some marketing or advertising material to use as prompts. It should be booked through a central point and try and keep bookings to half-hour blocks to stop people from hogging the room. The best way of doing that is to confirm the interview with the person being interviewed as well as the person conduction the interview.

Planning Ahead for Interviews

The press liaison person should also be able to set up interviews between people from the press and conference speakers and other VIPs. It's important that permission is obtained from these people before the conference begins as to whether or not they are prepared to give interviews and attend press conferences and any restrictions they might put on such appearances.

Armed with this information the press liaison person can prepare people who would like access to speakers and VIPs as to whether or not they are likely to grant an interview. This could be just timing restrictions, in that the speakers may not have time between sessions, or perhaps they might not be happy to do what they consider advertising or marketing roles. These latter situations require delicate handling.

Know the Market

One further point on interviews and press conferences is that the publicity person for the conference ought to know the market for the subject matter of the conference. This will allow them to decide whether or not a speaker is likely to grant an interview from a particular publication. Many speakers may not want to waste time on interviews if they are not convinced that the journal is the right one to be seen in.

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