How to Create a Theme for an Event

In my last post, I wrote about my top tips for planning a successful event for bloggers.  One of which is to create a strong theme that flows throughout your event from your very first contact with a blogger until your last follow up email.
Creating a theme for your event is very important when planning a blogging event, particularly if it is a new product launch or a brand showcase, as it really enables the brand to put their stamp on the occasion.  It delivers an environment where the key messages can be delivered, reinforced and hammered home.  With so many brands competing for exposure on social media and blogs, it is super important that the event is memorable and having a clear theme is the quickest way to achieving that.
A strong theme starts at the planning stages, before you’ve booked your venue, printed press materials and contacted bloggers.  You need to think about the purpose of the event, the message you’re trying to get a cross, who you’re inviting and the timing of the event.  
The contrast between the time of year that you’re in now and the time of year that your product is aimed at is very important and its your job to get your creative thinking caps on to conjure up some imagery in the minds of the bloggers at your event.  Jo Malone recently put on a cracking press day for bloggers and press alike where they created an indoor winter wonderland complete with mini ice rink to showcase their Christmas products.  You can see a clip of the event in the video below which is a vlog from ViviannaDoesMakeup, skip to 2:20 for the Jo Malone part.
When you’re ready to invite those on your list of bloggers, ensure the invite is eye catching.  With so many event invites being sent to bloggers, you need yours to stand out and grab their attention, in just the same way that you wouldn’t send a bland, rambling press release to a journalist, you wouldn’t send a few sentences to a blogger.  Get some colour on there and imagery that has the theme of your event or brand evident on it from first glance.  Also include sneak previews of things they’ll be able to do at the event, like having their nails done etc.  This can also be a good way to incorporate other brands on your portfolio and gain them some exposure too.  For example, if you’re working at a fashion event for the launch of a Christmas collection where tartan and dogtooth prints are going to heavily featured, you could get a nail brand on board to paint bloggers nails, inspired by the designs of the clothing collection, at the event.
Create a hash tag for the event and encourage the bloggers to use it.  It could be included in the invite to get the bloggers to create a buzz about the event and to find others attending the event and what they’re saying about it if the hash tag is searched.  While at the event, hash tags can be used alongside tweets and photographs of the event on Twitter and Instagram and in status updates on Facebook.  You could run a competition throughout the event to win something from the brand.  This works particularly well if it is a clothing event as you can simply ask bloggers to snap a picture of themselves with their favourite piece from the collection to post to Twitter using the hash tag and @ mentioning the brand a tweet.  The hash tag can also be used when the bloggers write up their posts from the event, whether it is a review of the event itself or of the product the event was about, for example.  This will help you to keep a check of the reviews as they’re tweeted so that you can retweet them from the brand’s account.
During the event, make sure your theme is evident.  This could be in the way you’ve decorated the room, the drinks and canapés that are served (French food for a French skincare brand perhaps?) or the activities to do at the event.  I once went to a holiday themed event for a swimwear brand and they had a mini beach set up with a beach ball and deck chair to have photos taken against and a competition to drop a pin on a world map with your name on and if the country you picked is chosen then you would win an item from the collection and the opportunity to blog for the brand.  That worked so well and got everyone involved.  Perhaps I’ll write more about some events I’ve been to in another post.
At the end of the event, ensure that each blogger takes home a detailed press pack that has all of the information and key messages that they need to blog about what was intended from the event.  The press pack should also include the details of any preferred stockists and contact details of who to get in touch with with the link to their review or if they have any further questions, need official images etc.  Make sure that the press pack continues the theme of the event whether it is through the use of imagery, hash tag suggestions or the text.
Finally, if you’re going to give away a goodie bag at the end of the event then make sure it is relevant to the brand and along the same theme as the event.  If the event was a product launch for a new skincare item then you could give away samples in a bag for each blogger as this is something that is easy to prepare before the event whereas if your event was for the launch of a swimwear line then the chances are, you wouldn’t be able to supply each blogger with a sample on the night as you wouldn’t know which style and size they’d like.  Organise to send their sample out to them and instead give a goodie bag with your logo printed on, again, keep it relevant, like a beach towel or bag, and products related to the brand such as sun cream, bronzer and waterproof mascara.  In the swimwear case, at a beach holiday themed event, this would reinforce the message that each item is something you could use on holiday along with a swimsuit from the new line.
I must also note that the theme doesn’t have to be something creative, it could simply be the brand’s key messages and ethos.  Perhaps you’re working the PR for a brand who pride themselves on delivering excellent customer service, professionalism and high performing products.  Make sure that your event reflects that.  I’ve talked about the fun side to planning events here but it can be as plain and simple as creating a very clean, white, scientific environment in which to showcase the latest discovery in a skincare ingredient.  The choice is yours!
Let me know in the comments about some of the events you’ve planned or been to and if they had a theme, what was great about it?
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