It’s easy to view the recent Republican and Democratic national conventions as a showcase for the parties’ presidential nominees. However, while the primary focus was to nominate their candidates, the conventions’ other elements closely mirrored more traditional industry events and conferences.
In How to Manage Media Relations at a High-Profile Event, my convention partner-in-crime Anna Jasinski shared media relations tips from #RNCinCLE and #DemsinPhilly.
PR pros aren’t the only ones, though, who can learn something from the political conventions. There were just as many lessons for event marketers.
As Anna and I worked with journalists to get members of the media signed up for the official convention newsfeed, we were struck by how each city expertly was shrink-wrapped in Republican and Democratic national convention material.
You couldn’t walk half a block without seeing some reminder the conventions were in town — whether it was a banner, a mural, a bus stop, the bus itself, red/white/blue lights in a fountain, or HD signage beaming from buildings.
When planning your on-site marketing for the next event you attend or host, take inspiration from these examples.
Hand out swag with swagger.
Everyone knows that event giveaways are a must. The challenge is in giving away swag that stands out.
Anticipate attendees’ needs. The most popular item during the RNC and DNC was the power stick. That’s because no matter where journalists were, power was hard to come by and mobile electronics only had so much battery life.
Companies like AT&T parked complimentary charging stations in strategic locations around the conventions, and Twitter and Cleveland Clinic were among the organizations that gave out cell phone-charging sticks.
These proved to be invaluable, which is the impression you want to leave when building relationships with event-goers.
Two other pieces of memorable swag could be found at The Atlantic magazine’s convention HQs.
In addition to offering charging stations for attendees of their panel events, The Atlantic engaged guests with mock Cards Against Humanity playing cards. While these were met with high approval, the “most coveted swag” award went to the all-female-ticket Barbies.
These were given out at both conventions during The Atlantic’s “Pathways to Power: An Atlantic Forum on Women in Politics.” The group She Should Run partnered with Barbie to create President and Vice President dolls for these panels.
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