The lasting impression Featured

9:46am EDT July 22, 2002

The special event is a marketing technique that can make a favorable and long-lasting impression.

Annual meetings, open houses, dinner meetings with customer groups, sales meetings, even having a hospitality suite at a trade show, all qualify as a special event.

Pulling off a special event in memorable fashion comes down to a single point: Taking care of the details.

The invitation list

Staging the event is only half the effort. Convincing the right people to attend is the other half. Many companies leave this detail until the last minute.

If you do, some people will receive their invitations too late to place your event on their schedules. Start working on the list as soon as you begin planning the event.


If the location isn’t predetermined, select one that is convenient to most of the people attending. Making it easy for your audience to get there will increase attendance.

Don’t forget to consider road construction schedules. Deal with construction by letting everyone know it’s there, giving them details on how to get around it and urging them to get an early start to the event site. Provide something to do for those who arrive early.


Consider bringing in a speaker to liven up the event and help get your message across. An organization moving from one downtown location to another not long ago wanted to prepare its employees and customers for the move.

We brought in the producer/narrator of a local television series about Pittsburgh people and places. He had delightful, behind-the-scenes stories which he interspersed with film clips from the series. We arranged for him to focus on the people and places that make the Strip District unique. So, much of what he said focused on his film about the Strip.

It was a little detail, and it paid off. The audiences loved the presentations. And they began to get a subtle message that the move was going to be good for everyone.

You don’t always have to budget large sums of money to get them onto the stage. The TV producer didn’t charge anything for his appearances. He liked the opportunity to promote his films, and he absolutely delighted in telling stories about how he made them.

With any speaker, consider budgeting for audio/visual support. Your location can be ideal and the speaker may be great, but if you need A/V support, and the A/V system isn’t up to par, you’ll lose the opportunity to tell the audience what you want them to know.

Consider hiring a local A/V firm to bring in a system. Your site already may have its own A/V system, but if the sound or projector fails during your event and you can’t switch over to the second system, the party’s over. Use the hotel system as a back-up. The professional A/V firm is going to have better equipment — and it will work.

The size of the room dictates when you need a microphone and screen. If you’re talking to a group of 50 or more people, you may need the mike, and you’ll likely need a screen as well.

The evaluation

At the end of the event, don’t forget to ask the members of your audience to fill out an evaluation form and ask them to provide you with suggestions for the next gathering. It may provide you with surprising information.

Attention to detail. Every detail. That’s what makes a special event special.

Jeff Krakoff is the president of Krakoff Communications, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based marketing communications and public relations agency. KCI is the agency of record for First Night Pittsburgh, the region’s largest annual special event For a free copy of KCI’s meeting/special event check list, call Jeff Krakoff at (412) 434-7718.