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How to Engage Your Event Stakeholders With a Powerful Communications Plan

How to Engage Your Event Stakeholders With a Powerful Communications Plan

March, 02 2020

A stakeholder communications plan outlines who you need to communicate to, about what, how you’re going to do it and how often. Managing stakeholder communications effectively is essential to the success of your event.

Here are five key steps to get started with actionable tips you can employ right now. 

Step 1: setting communication objectives

event stakeholder

The first step in developing a communications plan for your event is to define objectives that align with your event strategy.  

Examples objectives are: 

  • Increase awareness about the event and reach new attendees and exhibitors. 
  • Engage attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and speakers with content before, during and after the event. 
  • Encourage collaboration and networking. 
  • Educate attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and speakers and ensure they have key event information. 

Tone and voice 

It’s important your event looks and feels consistent across all content. Having a verbal structure for content and key messaging doesn’t need to be complex, but is an important pillar of your communications strategy. 

Examples include adjectives such as, our tone and voice is... 

  • Creative and fun 
  • Clear and concise 
  • Corporate and informative 
  • Friendly and sociable 

event stakeholder

Step 2: defining key messages for each stakeholder profile 

Who are you speaking to? Set up stakeholder profiles for your audience and ensure the personality, tone, and voice align with these profiles. 

Every event will have specific stakeholder groups - the information they want and need to know can vary greatly. To provide the best event experience for each, define what information each group needs to know and what is the value they are expecting to get from the event. For example, your exhibitors and sponsors are interested in who is attending and if they are a good fit for their business. Your attendees want to know who the speakers are and if there are networking or professional development opportunities. 

Understanding what they value and what they need to know will help you decide which key messages are relevant to each profile. 

Step 3: create a schedule

event stakeholders

Planning your event communications into a schedule for relevant distribution times and channels is key to a successful strategy. Once you have your key messages and stakeholder profiles make a list of all the content that needs to be distributed, relevant audiences, and timeframes. 

A substantial amount of content can be scheduled pre-event. In fact, some of this content is paramount when promoting your event, ensuring ticket sales, and maintaining sponsors, speakers, and other stakeholders.  

Pre-event 

Pre-event communications include the event announcement and content about the benefits of attending.  

  • When the event is and the location.  
  • Speakers or performers: your carefully curated program is a key draw-card for potential attendees. Introduce speakers or performers early on, including professional photos and short bios. 
  • Program: for business events, this can be a sneak peek of what’s included in the agenda – highlighting sessions, streams, workshops, and social activities.  
  • Registration/ticket sales open: Let potential attendees know they can purchase tickets. Offer an early-bird discount to encourage early adoption.  
  • Basic event details: Include information such as registration times, what’s included in their fee, if they need to book into any additional sessions or social functions, etc. 
  • Event app: tell them about the event app, why they should download it, and how to download it.  

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During the event  

During the event, your communications will be a mixture of planned and ad hoc. If you schedule your planned content in advance and have a clear strategy for ad hoc messages, you will be managing your event communications like a boss. 

Here are some examples of planned and ad hoc messages you might need to consider during the event: 

  • Planned: daily welcome and close messages, calls for feedback, sponsorship messages, transportation information. 
  • Ad hoc: weather forecasts, changes to scheduled sessions, lost property, ticket sales for additional sessions/breakouts/workshops.  

event stakeholder

Lead by example to encourage attendees and other stakeholders to share content on social pages with your hashtag and in the event app. Prompting discussions and posting images of event preparation will build excitement. By establishing a welcoming social environment, you’ll create a means for your attendees to network and socialise. 

Post-event

The event is done and dusted, but don’t forget to send out this follow-up information shortly after the event.  

Thank sponsors and others involved in making the event happen. 

Provide web-based access to speaker presentations and other materials. Share images and tag the people in them if applicable . Collect all the data and feedback to start planning for next year. Decide what will go in your sponsor prospectus and event highlights video.  

Step 4 : Choose channels that work for your stakeholders 

Now that you have your list, apply your content to your distribution channels: email, website, social media pages, and your mobile app.  

Event website 

Your event website is the foundation of your event promotion. It’s where you will be driving ticket sales. Create a landing page with highlights and unique selling points that communicate to your target audience why they should attend. Keep it clean with clear call-to-actions and ensure the check-out process is seamless. Monitor new sign-ups every day to gauge where the traffic is coming from and collect any other data that may streamline the process. 

Social media

Choose your social networks and what content to share on each. Facebook is great to create dedicated event pages and target audiences through paid promotion. LinkedIn is perfect for B2B and networking events. Create an event hashtag and make sure it is in all of your bios. Encourage speakers, performers, exhibitors, and sponsors to use it as well.  

Email marketing  

A great email campaign can help drive ticket sales and distribute important information to attendees. Emails should emulate the look and feel of the event brand. 

Event app or SMS 

Instant notifications via the event app or through SMS messaging can be used to direct users to further information or simply act as an announcement or reminder. These can be sent instantaneously or queued in advance to send in the coming days or weeks. These types of notifications can be more interruptive than other channels, so make sure it’s for important content only.  

To take it one step further, target stakeholders with personalised content relevant to them. Consider how your event registration data could be used to improve functionality for each attendee or group. An example of personalised content is creating unique surveys for exhibitors, attendees, sponsors and speakers. 

Step 5 : measurements and feedback loop

event stakeholder

Don’t wait too long to ask for feedback. You want this to be fresh in stakeholders’ minds. A great way to collect feedback is via the event app. Send a notification after closing with a link to an in-app feedback form, or email over some post-event questions to jog their memory while it's new in their minds.  

Have a clear loop for accepting and responding to feedback to ensure the information is documented and analysed and the stakeholder who gave the feedback receives a response. 

To measure the results choose metrics which will help decide if your original objectives were met. Some example metrics could include: 

  • Email open rates and website views. 
  • Media exposure. 
  • Amount and quality of feedback post event. 

Summary

Remember effective communication involves giving and receiving information. A clear roll-out and time frame will help establish expectations of everyone involved. With your strategy in place, you’ll be able to concentrate on running the event with the peace of mind that important information is being distributed to stakeholders when they need it. 

 

This article was written in partnership with Entegy, an industry-leading event technology platform and partner program powering remarkable experiences worldwide.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elise Hanslip

Elise Hanslip is a dedicated marketing professional with a decade of event industry experience. As the Marketing and Communications Manager for event-tech company Entegy, she has her finger on the pulse of technology and event trends around the world. Outside of work, she’s a dog person, meal planner, gin enthusiast, and indoor-plant lover.

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