Nothing rings more true in the world of PR. When planning an event, three things will always go wrong. This is a little mantra we’ve adopted (and a particularly poignant section in Cindy’s soon-to-be-published MMI 25th Anniversary book).
We say this not with pessimism, but because it is realism (which I suppose is a pessimist’s translation of the word) that allows us to plan for the hiccups and last-minute change-ups so that no matter what happens, we are able to keep our eyes on what needs to be accomplished and hit our goal regardless of the day’s events. (For our MMI event planning checklist, check out Maggie’s blog post here.)
This past week, the Perry’s Steakhouse account team and I joined Perry’s leadership in San Antonio to help kick off the opening events with a ribbon cutting and media “Hard Hat Preview.” With much enthusiasm from the San Antonio community on the anticipated arrival of such a wonderful restaurant, we expected 26 members of the media to attend for the tour and tastings.
True to form for any event, we arrived to discover three things:
- The restaurant opening would be delayed a week. We would need to train Perry’s staff to communicate this effectively and positively to 26 media members en route to the day’s festivities.
- The restaurant was still an ongoing construction site that needed to be organized and staged before anyone could access and tour the facility safely.
- The fire alarm system was to be tested that day and sirens would be occurring intermittently throughout our event.
We realigned, recalibrated and rolled with it. We worked with staff to stage the area, clearing cords and equipment, vacuuming and arranging tables. We served Perry’s stock of private label wines, allowing reporters to get a taste of the unique offerings and exceptional quality they could expect from Perry’s. When the fire alarm went off, it provided us an opportunity to tour media outside and have one-on-one asides with various members of the Perry’s San Antonio team. Though yet unfinished, the restaurant was impressive and beautiful. The construction made the task of communicating the new opening date light and easy and made media feel as if they were getting something novel – a true behind-the-scenes sneak peak. It also created excitement for them to return and see the finished product.
At the end of the day, 18 media members representing 12 different local media outlets toured the restaurant under construction. With much credit to the amazing Perry’s staff and their passion and commitment to doing things the right way before launching, the media left impressed and excited with plenty of material and soundbites from interviews with Perry’s leadership.
Was the event exactly what we imagined? No. But did the event succeed in building excitement and interest in the launch of Perry’s in a new market? Absolutely.
Now completely finished, prepared and up-to-par, Perry’s San Antonio opened its doors Monday. Even in the grips of a “three things always go wrong” reality, we are so lucky to work for clients whose hiccups in the plans are only caused by their desire to do things right.
Best of luck to the Perry family in their newest endeavor!