Cahoots and Vince Ciarlo of Ciarlo Communications recently implemented the PR behind the University of the West Indies Gala that raised $300,000 for UWI and Haitian students who need financial help to complete their degrees. The dress, food, decore, entertainment, all facilitated by event planner, Carole Adriaans made for a vibrant, exciting evening that celebrated Canada's rich diversity, as almost every nationality was represented in that room. The honourees - Malcolm Gladwell, Zanana Akande and Artis Lane, as well as six extraordinary individuals who are leaders in their sectors - are amazing people who set great examples for all of us. http://www.torontolife.com/daily/hype/velvet-rope-hype/2012/03/12/university-of-west-indies-toronto-benefit-gala/
So enough about the gala - what I want to talk about in this blog is the PR lessons learned during its planning and execution.
1. Dig deep for the story. Each of the honourees at the UWI Gala are incredibly accomplished, but seeing their resume and bio wasn't enough. You had to talk to them and really do the research to uncover the nuggets worth sharing with the media. Dig deep for the stories that move you. If you're moved or inspired by a story, others will be too.
2. Let the interview take its course. Have a set of predefined questions, but let the interview take its natural course. If your event ambassador wants to talk about one thing in particular during an interview, they are passionate about that subject matter - and passion always leads to a great story.
3. Tell two friends. When you have a story to share or an event to promote, tell as many people as possible. Ask them to pass along the information to their press contacts, colleagues and professional affiliates. We asked all of the UWI Gala honourees and committee members to pass along the word through the press materials and they did. It made a big difference to say the least.
4. Open your mind. Every event has multiple angles to pitch to the media - the hype and glam of the event, the honourees and their individual stories, the business partners who make it happen. Open your mind to all of the stories behind the event, and then craft each phone pitch to the media by telling them about the stories their audiences need to hear.
5. Remember the cause. Amidst all of the story telling and PR behind charitable events, the most important thing to remember is those who benefit from the charity. All of us would like to have the opportunity to make someone else's life better. In your toolkit of stories to tell when promoting a charitable event, that's the best one you have.