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Events in PR – A Russian Perspective

RenaultDuring the 22-year history of our agency we have executed hundreds of different events. Two of the most impressive ones were a ten-year program of Camel Trophy adventures on Land Rovers across some of the world’s most challenging and interesting regions as well as a huge all-Russia event for Renault cars at the end of 2013 which led to the fantastic result of Renault Duster becoming first best selling non-Russian 4X4 car in Russia outperforming the national brand Niva.

It’s fairly obvious that we LOVE events and we consider it as a great tool in promoting consumer goods in Russia.  We were lucky enough to have very good teachers when we started our business in the early nineties.  Karim Farah and Pascal Valley, were responsible for worldwide events in a big multi-national organization and my team was responsible for the execution of their events in Russia. Their three top tips, that we still consider very relevant to our current events approach, are the following:

1. Pay attention to the small details and always have a plan B in case situation does not turn out as you have planned (weather, force majeure, etc.)

2. Safety is more important than speed – especially in all kind of automotive test drives and other technology related events

3. We do not need more Chiefs, we need more Indians – meaning that whatever position you have in the company you must personally check all the details and take full responsibility

In Russia journalists love events

SsangYong… and from our own experience the PR coverage is much better if the journalists can personally participate in the event. While sending a save-the-date several weeks prior to an event makes total sense, the official invitation usually goes out just one week in advance of the event because otherwise the editors tend to forget about it again. The most important aspect however is that the event must be something very interesting and unique to attract their attention.

When we started our business 22 years ago it was very easy to arrange events abroad, and you could guarantee a good pool of journalists and very positive coverage. Today it is very difficult to arrange a trip abroad for the journalists working for influential media – they are too busy and do not have time.

As a company who has organized events for many years – especially automotive events – I can frankly say that nowadays the generic brand event days for luxury cars where the public and journalists can enjoy free music, free drinks and catering are mostly a waste of money.  Most people who are attending these events are secretaries of the people who could potentially afford these cars, staff from marketing and advertising agencies but not the potential customers! However, most automotive companies are still using this marketing instrument.

To make a long story short: Today events must have a WOW effect!

OlympicFireThis is the only way for events in Russia today to attract potential customers and the media. This has become a well known fact to PR and marketing professions but many clients still ask for traditional events shying away from innovative approaches.

Of course not every way to produce a lot of publicity is suitable for the image a certain company would like to establish.  I remember a very well-covered event of a Russian mobile phone operator who invited girls to do a striptease in a shopping mall to receive a new mobile phone. The event took place at daytime with parents and children in the mall.

It is our job to help clients in finding innovative ways for events which draw attention without the aid of cheap eye-catchers.

Author: Sergei Trofimenko, CEO of Point Passat, a GlobalCom PR Networks team in Russia

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