Many event professionals are heading into the 2021 season with the goal of making up for lost time. 2020 was tough and, hopefully, this year will be one of resiliency and growth. That means it’s time for industry pros to show up and stand out in today’s noisy marketplace.
Q1 has always been a time to look at the trends that lie ahead, which provides a great opportunity to foster discussion and become a part of the greater conversation about what today’s market wants. It’s going to be a hot topic whether you love incorporating new trends each year or dread the impermanence of them, so it’s in your best interest to get involved and demonstrate your thought leadership before peak season picks up.
There are two channels for leveraging your expertise about trends: owned content and earned media. Let’s take a look at each and how they can benefit your brand’s reputation in the market.
Owned content encapsulates everything that you have complete control over: your website, your blog, your emails, and your social media content. Whether you outsource them or handle them yourself, you dictate the messaging of every piece of content that goes out. You can take advantage of these channels by speaking about trends that catch your eye and fit in with your knowledge base. For example, a caterer may speak only to food and beverage trends whereas a designer might cover everything from linens to floral trends. Since these channels belong to you, you can take full advantage of each medium to put your spin on it and create your own narrative.
However, with owned content, you don’t get the opportunity to reach beyond your existing audience. You also miss out on the social proof of earned media when someone else says you’re great at what you do.
On the other side of the coin, you have earned media which provides third-party validation about your expertise. It’s not just you speaking through your channels; it’s others recognizing your knowledge about a topic. Since you’ll be earning features in external spaces, like podcasts, blogs, and other publications, your content will reach people in your target market who don’t yet know your brand.
When starting out your earned media approach, it’s best to start with your goals and how media opportunities can help you reach them. If your goal is to become nationally recognized, it may not be fruitful to spend time pitching to local publications in your small hometown. Figure out what will create progress towards your goal and begin educating yourself about up-and-coming trends in the industry.
Once you feel confident with your trend knowledge, start looking at the low-hanging fruit to get your feet wet. I always recommend HARO (Help A Reporter Out) as a great way to get involved with PR with minimal experience. You may also look for opportunities in your industry associations and with any media outlets that you have existing connections.
When you’re ready to dive into other publications, pick out three media outlets that support your goals and look for their past coverage of industry trends. Take note of the writers who cover trends and send them a polite introductory email. Explain who you are and how you can help them, offering them anything of value that you can provide. If you have a photo library to source from, let them know you can supply images. If you have an extensive network of colleagues, offer to connect them with other experts.
As you’re pitching trend ideas to editors and writers, keep track of your progress in a simple spreadsheet that organizes the outlets you’ve pitched, your contacts, what and when you pitched, and whether you received a response. Having this information in one place will help you to assess your progress and adjust your strategies as needed.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you feel about the latest trends so long as you accept that they make up a large part of the media cycle—whether you’re involved or not. Make the most of this opportunity by positioning yourself as a thought leader that is prepared to share their trend expertise with the market.
Lead photo courtesy Blue Elephant Events.