Today’s guest post comes from Nicolina Cabezal, marketing manager at NYC-based premium paper company JAM Paper & Envelope. JAM is a go-to shop for PR to create media kits and other promotional materials—and they’re on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to start working on clients’ holiday parties. Most of the time the media won’t bother covering an office holiday party, but if it’s done right your employee party can turn into a full-on media event. Here are five simple steps:
1. Start Planning and Promoting Early
Planning – It’s all About the Theme: Planning should be done at least two months in advance, if not sooner. This gives you enough time to brainstorm a clever theme and execute it. The theme is the most important thing because the press isn’t going to care about the generic corporate holiday party. Find a clever way to turn it into a story: for instance, invite members of a reputable charity and make a donation in the company’s name.
Promoting: Reporters don’t like rushing around for a story, so pitch them ahead of time so they can prepare in advance. Most publications have an editorial calendar, so if you try to pitch them on covering your story too close to the event there is a good chance they won’t have the time. Most importantly, when pitching publications, do your research and tailor your pitch. Send the invitation/press kit and leave it alone. Don’t follow up with a phone call or email, because it could hurt your relationship for future stories.
2. Keep It Religiously Neutral
To be successful in business you need to be aware that all customers and clients are different, and you need to find a happy medium so that you don’t isolate anyone. The same goes for hosting a holiday party. Keep decorations festive but make sure the theme is neutral and not focused on one type of religion. Opt for the more politically correct “Happy Holidays” décor. This way it won’t turn off reporters with a certain affiliation.
3. Go All Out on Decor and Visuals
Most companies don’t have huge budgets when throwing events, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on the details. Visuals are everything in today’s world: If something looks nice, it’s more likely to be shared around the web with minimal effort on your part (see: Pinterest). Make sure to spend a good amount of your budget making the space festive and interesting and opt for a more neutral color scheme like creams and whites, since reds and greens are commonly associated with Christmas.
4. Create a Killer Gift Bag
When creating your events gift bags, it’s PR 101 to have the purpose of the event in mind at all times. This is your last chance to make sure the media remembers your event and talks about it after it ends, so don’t just throw in random gifts. Include gifts that are interesting but still fall within the theme of the party and, most importantly, your client’s brand. Certain items should have the company logo on them, but don’t go overboard and brand every item in the bag. Place your logo on items that guests won’t be likely to throw away.
If you spent most of your budget on the décor and have limitations when it comes to the goody bags, opt for smaller gift bags. A small gift bags filled with stuff is better than a large, half-empty bag.
5. Treat the Press Like Guests
This is a golden rule for more than just hosting a holiday party: Members of the press are more likely to respond to your emails and publish your stories if they like you, so treat them as you would a client.
Let the press do their jobs. Don’t be intrusive during their interview and pitch your version of the story—have a real conversation and avoid corporate talk. If you did your job, the press should tell the story you want it to. After the event you can follow up with an email, but don’t get pushy: reporters have their own set of deadlines.
There you have it. Five simple tips to follow to turn your client’s seemingly simple office party into a newsworthy event. Remember, the most important thing is the theme. If you have that one taken care of, then everything else will fall into place.