PR agency tips on running events post-pandemic

PR agency tips on running events post-pandemic

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How to run a safe event in real life since the world was turned upside down.

Tess Fisher

Earlier this year, tide.pr launched Melbourne artist Dom Gauci’s latest collection in collaboration with the AFL. Our brief? To invite 200 of Melbourne’s top movers and shakers to the event of the year. After months of putting plans on hold, it was challenging, daunting, but most of all exciting to see our industry coming back to life. Here are some tips we’ve learned at PR agency tide.pr while navigating a whole new world of events. 


Tide.pr's Dom Gauci event was one of the first for the PR agency after the extended Melbourne lockdown.

Scanning and checking in 

Forget plus ones and your guest’s mother’s brother’s dog’s bestie dropping by. If you’re not on the list, you’re not in the event. In 2021, you need to be more accountable than ever when it comes to knowing who is in the room. You need to be across current legal venue capacity limits for your area and have a strict guest list that works within that number. 

Invest in a digital checklist (such as Social Tables or Zkipster) that captures all guests on the night, along with their contact details in case of emergency. Also ensure there is a functioning QR code to checks in all guests (next to an obligatory hand sanny station) and designate someone to man this all night – it only takes one person to make your event go viral… for all the wrong reasons. 


Have solid cancellation agreements with all of your suppliers to ensure you're not out of pocket.

Cancellation policies

Chances are, you’ve made a promise to your event client to be flexible if COVID-19 rears its ugly head – you need to work with suppliers who offer that same agility. Check that your venue will either fully refund you or allow you to host the event later if need be. Make sure the same agreement is in place with caterers, wait staff, photographers and more. Double check that list – it’s going to be a long lockdown sat next to that $1,000 ice sculpture you forgot to ask about. 

Location, location, location 

After a year locked up, who doesn’t want to enjoy the great outdoors? Sure, it’s riskier to host an outdoor party (especially if it’s in temperamental Melbourne) – but it will give you added flexibility when it comes to numbers. 

Capacity limits are a lot more generous outside, and people will feel at ease in the breeze knowing the risk of COVID-19 exposure is minimised. Heaters, a marquee and mulled wine are great winter solutions, and when the weather heats up nothing will slow us down.  

Social distancing 

Get your feng shui on and think about the flow of the event. Will everyone be able to socially distance? Where are the high traffic areas that guests will congregate? The bar is always a hotspot, as are photobooths and food stations. How can you spread these out to avoid pile-ups in one area? Having a staff member dedicated to moving people through the space will help ease congestion. 

Sometimes the best moments of an event come when everyone is shoulder-to-shoulder on the dancefloor or hugging as they clink drinks. In a socially distanced event, this isn’t going to be an option. If you’re worried about a cavernous event space draining the ‘vibe’, have a few designated ‘party people’ to work the room and ensure everyone is having a good time. This person is a great social connector, has an upbeat energy and breaks more ice than a polar bear. If you don’t know one, invest in a publicist. 

Catering

Although it might look great for the ‘gram, skip the cheese platter that requires everyone to use the same knives, or the donut tower that is going to have sticky prints all over it. Instead opt for single portions (like mini bowls of pasta or hot dogs) that come with their own cutlery, or canapés that can be picked up hygienically. 


When tide.pr had to cancel the Feenix Rizing event, they pivoted quickly and hosted a virtual wine tasting.

Pivot for quick wins

Ross Geller said it best when he said “PIVOT!!”, and no, it’s not just reserved for getting couches upstairs. Every event should have a backup plan, and those in a post-pandemic world are no exception. 

For example, if your event gets nixed last minute but the showstopping cake has already been made, what are you going to do? Can you deliver guests a slice at home or donate the dessert to a food drive? Quick thinking will turn potential losses into big wins.   

In the depths of lockdown last year, we had to find a creative way to celebrate the launch of implementation partner Feenix Rizing. With face-to-face events off the table, we thought outside of the box (and inside the bottle) and collaborated with the Halliday Wine Companion to host a virtual wine tasting. 

We delivered top rating wines and individual grazing platters to our guests, and everyone tuned in to hear tasting panellist Jeni Port talk through the heritage of each drop, while Feenix representatives explained what makes their business unique. The virtual event highlighted Feenix’s flexible, agile and engaging approach, and just like a good wine, left a long-lasting impression. 

Have fun!

Current consumer events require additional planning and consideration, but don’t lose sight of why you’re hosting the party in the first place. Try not to see restrictions as a downer, but a fun challenge you need to work around. If masks become mandatory again, can you play on this and have a masquerade party? If capacity restrictions tighten, can you host a series of intimate, 20-person lunches, rather than 100-person party?

One of the biggest challenges of the pandemic has been being apart, but one of the highlights is seeing the innovative ways people found to be together. Get creative and help us stay connected by making events happen. And if you need inspiration, you know where to find us. 


Tess Fisher, account director, tide.pr.


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