Event marketing has gained a reputation as a rather workmanlike field that is only good for setting up the elaborate parties that PR agencies have planned.
These days, however, those PR-driven events are much more than just parties. They can be one of the most effective ways of reaching key influencers and building excitement about a brand. They also bring target audiences for a brand together in person, something that is unique in an age where bloggers and MySpace pages have become important media targets.
"What I think it brings to the table is that experiential element," says Lara Baldwin, EVP of Landmark Event Services. An ad or a media placement may catch someone's eye momentarily, but an event can become a memory that lasts forever.
Baldwin adds that Landmark has seen a dramatic increase in the number of PR clients over the past year and a half.
Minya Quirk, cofounder of Brand Pimps and Media Whores, a firm that frequently throws parties that attract a young and influential crowd, believes event marketing to be a superior alternative to traditional media outreach because they can attract a crowd that will accurately represent the brand to influential attendees.
"[We] utilize events to really present the lifestyle to the editors or partners," explains Quirk. "They really get a bigger picture by interacting with [the brand's consumers]."
"I think an event is integral to a PR campaign," adds Ed James, who heads the PR division of Cornerstone Promotion. "But it has to be more than just doing something on a large scale. It needs to be smart, it has to speak to the messaging, and people have to come away with something besides a gift bag."
Events are also a good way for a client to break into a different demographic.
James notes that restaurant chain Johnny Rockets recently hired Cornerstone to organize a listening party featuring the music of Gnarls Barkley. "It was a very small event," he says, "but it spoke on a grand scale to what they were doing."
Events offer a way to build buzz and excitement about a brand
Experiential nature of event marketing can create a lasting impression
Events can still retain the brand's core messaging