Creating Wickedly Buzz-Worthy Events: Your How-To Checklist

By: Madeleine Wojtalewicz

Recently, the Motion PR team had the opportunity to sit down with Bonni Pear, Executive Vice President and Director of Entertainment & Lifestyle Brands, and get her advice on the ins-and-outs of all things event planning. Bonni, known as the events guru at Motion PR, has over 30 years of experience creating countless memorable events for well-known brands. Whether it’s making Tinker Bell fly over Chicago’s Millennium Park or staging the world’s largest juggling flash mob, Bonni knows how to execute a media-worthy event. Lucky for us, she was willing to share a few of her secrets on how to go about planning a successful, buzz-worthy event.

Before the planning even begins, you must ask yourself a few questions. Identify why you’re doing the event – will the concept be compelling enough to make for a news-worthy story? To reach the highest level of success, Bonni showcased how the following items can be used as a checklist of what elements are needed to keep people talking about an event long after it’s over.

News/Time Peg – To put together a media-worthy event, a news or time peg is needed. The news or time peg should fit nicely with the overall theme of the event, giving it a basis of justification, making it timely, appealing and popular. News pegs can be internal, like a major company announcement, or external, such as a presidential election or sports-related event. Time pegs are just as helpful, whether it’s seasonal, an observance or an anniversary. Using a news or time peg will greatly peak people’s interest and can increase overall attendance.

Action Visuals – Having compelling, interesting and eye-catching visuals gives the media an additional reason to cover the event. Providing a heartwarming, outrageous or exciting visual for spectators to enjoy is a great story-starter for any print article or television segment. Strong visuals play an increasingly important role in the success or failure of events.

Uniqueness – Similar to action visuals, an out-of-the-box idea is something the media always gravitates towards. The uniqueness of an event gives the media something new and interesting to report, rather than an event mimicking something that’s been covered in the past. Questions to ask yourself include: has this ever been done before? What is a past event similar to the one I am planning? Was it successful and how can I make mine different? Creativity is key in answering the questions above.

Authenticity – Authenticity is one of the hardest items on the list to achieve, simply because your event must be the real deal. Authenticity means your event has a natural connection to the brand that’s hosting it.  Not all successful events have to be authentic, but when what you’re already doing has an inherent connection with the brand, it is more meaningful to consumers and creates a connection that may not otherwise have been possible with a less-authentic event.

Charitable Component – Being charitable never goes out of style. Consumers rarely grow tired of helping others or hearing the heartwarming stories that usually go hand-in-hand with charities. A charitable component gives your event extra depth and adds a human element that helps to be successful. Knowing the proceeds of an event will benefit a person in need, or highlighting a cause people are passionate about, can be a great way to garner more attention.

Location – Securing traditional media coverage is a common goal for events, but exposure can happen organically in other ways as well. Planning an event in a high foot traffic location can offer great additional exposure. With the pervasive use of cell phones and apps, social media is a convenient way to secure coverage and reach people who couldn’t attend. Leverage high foot traffic areas along with social media hashtags or personalized geofilters to build additional buzz around the event.

These components are a good starting point to help you decide if an event will be a success. Having every single one of these components in one event is almost impossible, so consider which ones are feasible and then decide if your combination is enough to provide the desired results. If so, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty details and start your event planning!