Brands have limited in-house resources to coordinate brand or product launch events often turn to PR agencies to help garner media attention. iStore is just such a company that worked with ApexPR for the unveiling of its second fashion-technology retail location in Scarborough Town Centre with a private media launch party on August 11. More than 75 local and trade media professionals filled the store engaging with products and taking photos for stories they would publish later in the day.  Local and trade media in attendance covered the event.

We spoke with the Apex PR Senior Consultant Susie Nick, who coordinated the iStore launch, about how to host a successful launch party. Here are her 5 tips you can utilize to translate a store opening into a PR success.

1. Set clear goals before the event.

“It’s easy to throw an event, but it’s another [task] to have people leave that party inspired by your client’s work,” said Nick.

Before an event Nick sets clear benchmarks for what her client determines as ‘a success’ to measure against. She asks questions like, “Is success media coverage with notable bloggers, coverage in Canada’s daily newspapers, or a bit of both?” After determining which publications to target for coverage, you can then focus on the logistics of the event and how those will translate to stories that influence the public opinion of your brand. 

cookies2. Identify the key target audience for your launch.

Determine who are you trying to reach whether they are Millennial-moms, 20-something fashionistas or high profile business executives. Each demographic requires outreach to different media outlets and influencers with a pitch tailored to their respective audiences. While bloggers may gravitate towards like event invitations and product giveaways, financial reporters want press releases and email pitches.

3. Pay attention to the details.

Personalized touches can go a long way to building a more engaging atmosphere and positive response from attendees. For the iStore’s launch, the caterer served platters of cookies branded with the event’s hashtag #iStoreTO.

Gifting is also a popular way to engender goodwill with an audience. Nick’s strategy is to personalize what types of gifts attendees receive to their specific publication, interest or hobby.

Those details extend to how your influencers or media professionals travel to and from an event.  By removing the barrier of cost or logistics of travel, you can secure more of your targeted attendees.  Nick often provides taxi chits for those who don’t drive or have tight time commitments.

Skull-candy4. Do your research to keep date and time conflicts to a minimum.

Conduct a media audit to determine upcoming time conflicts two months prior to solidifying an event’s launch date. By this time you know who your target media professionals are and this will give you a sense of what events may turn out to be true conflicts. Keep the formal presentations or speeches at your event to bare minimum. It’s easy to lose people’s attention and this shows further respect for your attendee’s time while keeping their focus where you truly want it: engaging with the brand.

“Keep it short and sweet,” advises Nick, who added this is especially important during day time events where guests could be taking time away from their desks to be there.

5. Tenacity pays dividends. 

With the logistics of your event planned, sending out invitations and waiting for RSVPs can be a nerve-racking part of the planning process. Focus that energy into an anxiety-busting fury of activity and be tenacious by following up regularly with those you have invited.

“Don’t get discouraged (or take it personally) if you have to follow-up more than once or even three times,” said Nick.


About James Rubec

James Rubec is a data geek, a former public relations lead and journalist with a love of content and advocacy. Ask him anything @JamesRRubec and be sure to follow @Cision_Canada

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