The Beginner’s Guide to Event Communication: Strategy, Plan & Tools
Have you ever considered integrating important information rollouts into your marketing campaigns? Have you decided on effective communication strategies to engage your attendees? From hashtags to hospitality, your event communications and how they tie into your marketing plan can mean everything in terms of your event’s success.
Before Your Event
Your marketing agenda and communication schedule will be influenced by deadlines for selling tickets, signing speakers, and/or deciding event programs. Here are some general timeline rules to stick to when planning your communication strategy:
- By 12 weeks (at least) before the event, you’ll want to announce the event.
- Spend the next 10 weeks (or more) executing your marketing campaign and working on a strategy for communicating necessary information. Keep in mind that you won’t know all this information at once; it will come to you gradually, and you’ll want to be strategic about when you release it.
- You’ll need to keep your other organizing teams informed about your communication strategy so they can send you information you might not have shared otherwise.
- On the week of the event, communicate any and all vital information and share directly with attendees.
Related Tips: 8 Event Planning and Management Software that will Save You Time
Important Details to Communicate
Communicating the following information, in this order, will help to prevent unpleasant surprises for both your team as well as the attendees:
- Speakers’/hosts’ names: Since your speakers and hosts are a huge part of what draws attendees to your event, you’ll want to start introducing speakers early on in your event communications. Include on your speakers might be keynote titles, photos, and brief introductory bios. You can also consider sharing their presentation slides or any necessary handouts.
- Event agenda and activity: Attendees will need to know the event agenda ahead of time to plan their event activities and make the most of the day, which is especially important in a conference with multiple sessions.
- Communication channels & necessary downloads: You need to decide the communication channels to use to update your attendees and engage them from the ticketing moment. It can be an event app, social media, event website or emails. By considering your attendees demographics, select effective ones and let attendees know how to access them. If you organize business events, using a mobile event app is a trend nowadays. For example, the Whova app is a great tool for communicating important information such as agenda, directions and logistics, sponsors, slides, surveys/polling, etc., as well as social media outlets.
- Music/DJ: Your Emcee and DJ set the tone for your event. Help people get acquainted with them beforehand.
- Food and drinks, at least one week out: This is helpful so that people know whether they need to eat beforehand or bring food, especially if they have a food allergy.
- Dress attire: Make sure all participants know how to dress for your event. Business casual or flip-flop friendly?
- Weather: Outdoor events, transportation and even attire can depend heavily on this crucial detail. You likely won’t know this information until less than one week out.
Now you know what to communicate and when. Knowing how to communicate that information effectively is much more important, though. Beyond merely announcing information, you should engage attendees and get them involved in your event as much as possible.
Here is a checklist for you, from basic to advanced communication tools.
- Event website creation. This will help anyone who is interested in learning more about your event easily find updated information in one spot. Potential attendees will most likely come to this page.
- Email marketing. Gather the emails of your past and current attendees as well as your supporters to build a strong newsletter list. Make sure to build a strong campaign to introduce and confirm any headliners, venue changes, or special workshops that will take place all while featuring your event’s page on the official website to increase search engine optimization.
2. Mobile event app
If you haven’t used an event app yet, you would be surprised how much a top-notch event app can help you communicate with your attendees, going beyond providing a mobile agenda and logistics.
The Whova app was a great organizational and communication tool for our meeting participants. The app's signature style allowed us to engage each other throughout the event. We look forward to using Whova for future events.
-- Jay Harf, Vice President, L'Oreal
It is important to select a right event app for you by considering the following aspects:
- Push notification: Check whether it supports a push notification to allow you to send announcements to attendees mobile devices as well as their emails. It will be convenient to keep attendees updated and reminded especially at an event day.
- Group chat: A good event app supports a group chat so that your team can have internal discussions and sync-ups before or during the event. It will be also useful for attendees to communicate with one another to arrange ride sharing to your event, share information of local attractions, or discuss topics your event is covering.
- Public bulletin board: If the app provides you with a bulletin board, you can use it for lost & found, encourage vendors to post promotions or job openings, engage attendees with timely updates on event activity, and provide a place for them to communicate.
- Social media outlet: It will be convenient if your attendees can directly post their experience in social media while staying in an event app.
- Live polling/survey: Live polling is not only for competition events but can be used to get a headcount on session attendance for food/room arrangement, develop event programs, engage attendees with thought-provoking questions, etc. Find 5 use cases of live polling and double-check that your event app is offering it. Mobile surveys will help you conveniently collect more feedback from attendees, so don’t forget about it when evaluating an app.
- Attendee retention: Choose an event app that will keep your event on the app after the event, and allow you and your attendees to continue using it for post-event follow-ups. Just like email newsletters, have a communication strategy on leveraging a mobile app to update your attendees with upcoming events and increase attendee retention. Having a long-term communication channel is important especially if you are trying to build a community.
- All-in-one management: Some event apps are provided together with other marketing tools as an all-in-one management system. Using such a bundle will be more cost-effective and save you time from managing multiple systems.
Would like to take a look at a concrete example of an event app covering all the aspects above? Check out Whova or request more information.
3. Social media
Each social network serves as a different tool with a gauge for a unique audience. Who are your attendees? If your event focuses on a younger demographic, weaving an image-rich story of what to expect, your sponsors, vendors, speakers and themes can build solid engagement through Instagram, SnapChat, Vine, Meerkat or Periscope. Tech-oriented audiences will be itching to share their experience under your event hashtag on Twitter.
- Twitter: Regardless whether it is a business event or not, Twitter is a good place where you will want to feature an up-to-date stream of what’s happening, ask for feedback, answer any questions, share interesting comments and engage more. You can acquaint followers with all speakers and hosts’ official handles.
- Facebook: If your audiences are in Facebook, it is a good idea to set your event as public to promote more invitations throughout the Facebook community and moderate shared comments, photos and videos.
- Instagram: It is a great place to share high quality sneak peeks of speakers, location and anything evocative of the event’s story. Be sure to utilize your event hashtag here.
During the Event
Important Details to Communicate
Remind core team members including your emcee and venue staff to share all elements of the timeline, so everyone can be on the same page and have plenty of time to prepare. This includes scheduling the opening tweets, announcements or live polls through your event app, possibly the night before.
Regarding communication with your attendees, you will need to update attendees with the following information.
- If you use an event app, you would like to get the most out of it. As the event program and logistics are all easily accessible on the app, it is important to let attendees know of it and download it ahead of time. Follow the link for 10 effective tactics to increase event app adoption. If your event app provides great benefits for attendees in terms of networking, it will naturally help you to have high app adoption and build a good communication channel to attendees. (FYI, Whova app consistently has 60-99% adoption rate in most business events.)
- Remind everyone of the event hashtag, along with promoting where to share and engage across your social media channels.
- All breaks, meals, receptions, and other activities outside the venue should be made clear via announcements, printed agendas and/or an event app.
- Share what’s going on with those who couldn’t attend. Post fascinating photos, videos and quotes across social media, so your audience at large can feel involved.
Revisit Your Communication Toolkit
We’ve already covered which tools to use and why, but once the event begins, their significance and purpose can change.
- If you use a mobile survey, live polling, twitter wall, slide sharing, etc., through your mobile event app, remind your attendees of this during opening remarks. Check if your app can send out an automatic or manual reminder via push notification and emails, as Whova does.
- Be sure to schedule important posts for Twitter and Facebook ahead of time, so organizers and volunteers can focus on capturing real-time content and making sure everything runs smoothly.
- Why not up the ante with a selfie hotspot for attendees or an easy-to-participate gamification like a photo contest?
- Live-stream your event around the world. Snapchat, Meerkat or Periscope? That’s entirely up to you, but there are pros and cons of each live streaming app, so make sure you’re aware of any risks of “reporting” live, functionality or any additional equipment you may need on hand. Here is a checklist for you:
- Choose your location carefully (seat, angle, lighting… lack of zoom).
- Keep it professional, avoid handheld. Purchase a stand for your device to enable crisp and clear pictures. It’s worth it.
- Avoid any confusion for viewers by keeping a banner with the event name and information in the shot or having someone moderate the feed by posting comments to inform the other viewers of what’s happening.
- Double check that your device has enough hard drive space available and plenty of battery life. Even better, bring a charger.
- Let speakers and anyone within earshot know that you’re filming. No need for anything inappropriate or distracting to occur.
- While you’ve already let folks know about the live stream before the event, make sure to continue to do so. An extra tweet or two can invite any stragglers to join in.
After the Event
Important Details to Communicate
- Thank everyone involved and conclude the event. If you use a photo slideshow, it is a good idea to display photos taken by participants during the last day’s lunch or the closing remarks.
- Did you collect attendees’ feedback from a live poll or a mobile survey before/during the event? You can share these results with attendees. For example, you can get them to participate in deciding your next event’s location through a live poll from an event app or emails (Whova supports both), and share the results in real time.
- If you didn’t collect feedback through a mobile survey during an event, it is not too late. You can still create a survey (e.g. SurveyMonkey or Snap Surveys) and send that out over email within 1 week.
- Take a moment to consider how you want folks to share their experience afterwards and perhaps capture all their content into a memorable photo album to include on event pages or a thank you email. You can ask participants to share any other photos or reviews (with the event hashtag) on social media. Their content is invaluable and can be even more spectacular than your own.
- It is very important to engage attendees after an event as you will want to get them back for upcoming events. Send out newsletters about this event and the next event within 1 week after the event through your websites, emails, announcements and bulletin board provided by an event app, and social media. Keep the conversation going for those who weren’t present as well.
Your communication style and social media presence can set the tone for your event before it begins, so use our guide to find the best ways to share information with every one of your participants. If you would like to see how Whova event app can help you engage attendees, request more information.