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Field of Dreams Is Not A Good PR Case Study: Consider Events

“If you build it, he will come.” Obviously a great premise for a Hollywood blockbuster.

Who wasn’t captivated by Kevin Costner’s tenacity in building a ball field, inspired by the ghosts of baseball past who assured him by merely converting his Iowa corn fields into a diamond that his deceased father would return to right their strained relationship.

The closing scene featuring miles and miles of headlights making their way toward the fantastical field is one of the all-time cinematic greats.

“If you build it, he will come” may have been sufficient to make 1989’s Field of Dreams a success, but it’s not good practice in the world of public relations.  Blockbuster PR requires careful strategy and attention to detail, with no “i” too small to dot and no “t” too small to cross. Let’s use event planning as a case in point.

So you’ve decided to host a gathering . . . Events can be key to achieving many public relations goals, and in the right instances bigger really can be better. But simply dreaming up a spectacular, pull-out-all-the-stops extravaganza will not guarantee success if you don’t back it up with the proper strategy and attention to detail that will do justice to your idea.

What are you going to do . . . So you’ve got this great concept. Then what? What will your guests experience upon arrival? How will you engage them throughout? Is this gathering for work or play? What is it you want them to leave with? Carefully considering these questions and more – and making sure all event elements work in harmony – will make even the simplest plans perfection.

2015 Grand Prixmiere, Belle Isle Conservancy Benefit sponsored by Price Waterhouse Cooper and Chevrolet (Joe Wilssens photo)

2015 Grand Prixmiere, Belle Isle Conservancy Benefit sponsored by Price Waterhouse Cooper and Chevrolet (Joe Wilssens photo)

It IS who you know . . . Attracting the right crowd to meet your promotional goals can be harder than you think. First and foremost is to make sure the event you’re planning truly appeals to your target audience. But even with that aligned, simply assembling a massive invite list in the hopes of attracting “enough” people is not a good approach. Think about the groups, organizations or communities with the pockets of people you want at your gathering and focus your invite efforts there.

It’s not just once and done . . . Unlike the throngs who simply showed up for Costner, it takes work to draw a crowd for any event. It’s generally not enough to issue an invite and call it a day. It usually takes working multiple avenues and multiple contacts to attract attendees. Make sure your guests save-the-date with advance notice, followed by a hard copy and/or electronic invitation and supported by social media appeals. Add in news releases and calendar listings for good promotional measure and the chance that you’ll have an elbow room-only event will grow exponentially.

Only one chance to make a first impression . . . Be creative and complete with your invitation. Make sure your design is eye-catching and communicates your event’s personality. Is this a serious or lighthearted gathering? One look at your invite should convey which it is. And without weighing down the design in text, be sure to clearly highlight the who, what, when, where so your guests can readily find ALL the pertinent details.

By putting a bit of forethought into your next event, or any PR initiative for that matter, you can enjoy blockbuster results. And they will come!

Pat Adanti-Joy, APR, is a vice president at Franco Public Relations Group, supporting the agency’s nonprofit clients, which includes event planning. You can reach her at 313-567-5046 or joy@franco.com.