How does a company measure its return on investment from an editor dinner or event tied to a trade show? It is undoubtedly one of the first questions before planning an event, and one that’s on the minds of company executives afterward. How you answer an executive’s question may depend on how much you put into an event. Let me give some rationale for hosting an editor event and five tips to make your next one a success.

Why an editor event?
There are short- and long-term benefits of an editor dinner or special event. Sitting down to dine with editors at a nice restaurant and pairing them with subject matter experts from your company can help build relationships, foster dialogue for content ideas, lead to editorial coverage and, looking long term, help position your company as a leader in its industry. After a long day of walking a trade show floor or sitting through press conferences, editors are ready for a break and enjoy the opportunity to relax, share a drink, eat a delicious meal and mingle with representatives from your company.

5 tips when planning your next media dinner
Hosting a dinner for editors does not need to be stressful with some careful planning. Working far in advance, clearly communicating the details, following up with editors just prior to the event and confirming details with the facility will make for a successful evening.

Tip 1: Plan your event early
It cannot be overstated how important it is to carefully plan a media dinner. Nine months is not too early to start planning your next event. Much like securing a reception for a special event, doing research to determine the date, location and menu should be done earlier than you might expect. Why? Many companies start planning events such as editor dinners even a year out, especially if it is in a popular destination or held in conjunction with an industry trade show or conference.

Tip 2: Perform a site inspection
If you have an opportunity, narrow your site selections during a site inspection. Check the lighting, sound levels, technology offerings and décor. If possible, schedule your visit during an evening when the restaurant or facility has guests. Taste test the food during a meal. Make note of concerns and ask your contact what can be done to mitigate any challenges before your event.

Tip 3: Send a save the date
Email is an acceptable form of communication to ask editors to save the date for your dinner. Keep it short and to the point. Ask them to please consider attending your dinner, and give them as many details as possible, including the date, time and venue. Send a save the date about six months prior to your dinner.

Tip 4: Create an appealing invitation
Put more time and effort into your invitation than the save the date email. Be creative. If you’re not creative, ask a graphic designer to help. Even if you plan to send the invitation via email, save a PDF and attach it to an email. Send the invitation three months before your dinner. Keep a record of who is attending and any special dietary needs. Make calls to editors who have not responded to your invitation. Print a hard copy of attendees with their preferred contact information for use on the day of your dinner.

Tip 5: Arrive early, say thanks and stay late
A few days prior to your event, confirm who your on-site contact will be and ask to meet with that person before the event begins. Check the room’s technology and capabilities again. If you are using your own equipment, such as a laptop, projector and speakers, test them before the presentations. On the day of the event, plan to arrive at least one hour before the first guest. Even better, if time allows, ask your presenters to practice once or twice to make sure the audio levels are good and everything works. At the end of the event, don’t forget to thank your guests for attending. Their time is valuable, and they’ve made a point of spending quality time with your company. Don’t leave until the last guest has departed. Ensure everyone has transportation to their hotel, and offer to hire a taxi or arrange an Uber ride if someone needs help.

How do you measure your success? I offer the following ways:

Simple head count: Who attended and from which magazines? Did the editors you hoped would attend participate? How many meaningful conversations did they have with your employees?

Post-event survey: Survey editors to gauge if they enjoyed their time and found it meaningful. Ask if they liked the venue, the meal and room conditions, and most importantly, ask what you can do better next time. There is always room for improvement.

Editorial coverage: Monitor online and print coverage following your event. More editors are capturing their own video and uploading it to their company’s YouTube page, social media channels or website. Traditional print placements may appear in the months to follow. Provide online and print samples to your supervisor to show the coverage. Circulation and impressions can be helpful if you need to provide a number to show a return on your efforts.

Now you are better prepared the next time someone suggests an editor dinner or event and wants to know what they can expect to get back for their investment, as well as how to plan for a successful event.

About Ryan Johnson

Ryan is a PR pro, with an earned accreditation in public relations. He’s a senior public relations supervisor who specializes in copywriting, media relations, and custom publishing. You can pick Ryan’s brain on custom content at ryanj@2rm.com.