I’m always late for a very important date…sometimes I don’t even pitch
I think the most frustrating part of our jobs is having to rely on other people to attend our activations. Those who are in our game know exactly where this week’s blog is headed…
Waiting anxiously outside a client’s office yesterday for 10 people to pitch for a small round table event, made me think about how many times we have sat in the same situation, albeit different locations with different volume expectations, but how the anxiety levels can always be defined as ‘high’ or ‘largely elevated’. The reason for this is because of how often we’ve sat in this positions with a client breathing down our necks about how many of the confirmed RSVPs would actually pitch – an answer we sadly, can never know until the session starts (and in some cases, when the session is over!).
For this particular session, we made the initial phone calls, sent save the dates and formal invitations, then calendar reminders and lastly follow ups with the parking instructions – five different communications methods to ensure the guest’s attendance. Sure, yesterday everyone arrived (incredible day with awesome feedback which was great) but what about the countless other media activities our guests have a) responded to and arrived uncomfortably late for, b) responded to and cancelled 10 minutes before the start time or c) the worst - just don’t pitch and switch their phones off. Of course, we need to be mindful of circumstances like breaking news stories that take preference or emergencies that crop up – they always do, but too often the reason for the no show unfortunately come from the same people.
From our side, clients are sometimes freaked out by media because of the ‘power’ they have (“If they don’t like where we are, or the food we serve, will they do a nice piece on our product or service?”). With the evolution of and access to social media, this ‘power’ assumption has escalated substantially . We have the relationship with these ‘power houses’ so clients look to us as the cotton wool protecting their brand from the potential backlash that bad parking facilities or lack of WiFi connectivity may have on the positive message they’re trying to deliver to the end user. Over the years we’ve learnt what our invitees do and don’t like – from food preferences to parking specifications so we have detailed check lists to ensure that we deliver a seamless event experience on behalf of our clients but i is very difficult trying to explain to a client that yes, Mr Joe Blog did RSVP, yes, of course we confirmed with him/her in writing, yes we did send a calendar reminder and yes, we did call to reconfirm today with them, when Mr Blog has just not pitched.
A brief we were once given by a client on a project basis with a view to go permanent was based on attendance. The client had been burned before and only wanted 10 people from a certain industry to attend a conference they were hosting. The content was great, the speaker and interview opportunities, in abundance – and this wasn’t our warped overzealous attitude, this was the reality of what was. The event needed a full day though and cost R1495 per ticket, so when 3 of our 10 guests didn’t pitch, the client didn’t really care about how regularly we’d made contact to confirm their attendance, they simply weren’t there therefore we had not delivered.
We know you’re busy filing stories and working against really tough, often ludicrous deadlines. We cannot determine what the news will be and are empathetic towards circumstances out of your control. What we do, very kindly request however, is to not always have an emergency, or not always have ‘something’ come up, or not always ‘have deadlines’ or not always arrive just before the session is done or even over (but hey, here’s your plate of that strictly xxx food we had brought in for you at R400 per head).
If our content or concept doesn’t interest you or make for a great story that you’re as excited as us to cover, it’s cool – just let us know so we can challenge ourselves to find a way that it will be!