Announcing an event, or making a big product announcement, opens you up to all sorts of mishaps. Preparation really is the best medicine. Try these ideas to cut down on the likelihood of something going terribly wrong at your event.
You’ve dreamed up a perfect event announcement or drum roll at your event and then something goes terribly wrong. Most seasoned event planners can see trouble from a ballroom-length away but occasionally it surprises even us. Here are 9 ways to avoid potential trouble when you want to make an impact.
With Just the Acronym on Social Media
If your event is part of an association or other organization with a widely-used acronym name or abbreviation, ensure it has no other meanings before using it in a hashtag or acronym form on social media. While the name may be commonplace to you and your members, the acronym may spell out something very different in slang or texting language. These sorts of things seem to change daily so make sure there is no double meaning either for your organization name or the hashtag you’ve chosen before using it widely.
With Technology You Didn’t Queue Up First
We’re not telling you not to use technology to make event or product announcements, just make sure that if you do before a live audience, you check things like WiFi and server connections. If you don’t, you could end up like poor Steve Jobs in this compilation of failed announcements and technical difficulties. Yes, that sort of thing seemed to plague him.
With an Elaborate Fan Tease
Ever since the Foo Fighters pulled out of Glastonbury in 2015 when Dave Grohl broke his leg, fans had been waiting patiently to hear when they’d be able to see the band again. In some weird PR twist that is still hard to understand, boarding cards/passes were sent to fans for Obelisk Airlines with the band’s pyramid logo and a check-in time of February 22 2017. They also had an unexplained countdown on the website and a number of other clues sprinkled around the Interwebs. Many fans waited for an announcement about the band playing on February 22 but no announcement came.
It wasn’t until they were playing a small, secret venue that Friday (two days later) that the announcement was made that they would be headlining Glastonbury 2017.
While the boarding pass was an incredibly exciting touch to get fans riled up, it’s a tactic best left up to rock stars and other celebrities who people are willing to wait several days for it all to make sense.
With Someone Who Hasn’t Had Any Practice with the Words
Hey, we get it. Words can be complicated, especially names, but if you’re announcing an event or a keynote speaker for that matter, you better know the pronunciation. If not, you should hire John Travolta.
At the 86th Academy Awards, his job was to announce the very popular Broadway star, Idina Menzel. Blame it on the cue cards or leaving his glasses at home but “Idina” became Adele and “Menzel” was transformed into Dazeem. Shortly thereafter, memes hit the Interwebs featuring Adele Dazeem as the star of Menzel’s soon-to-open Broadway show.
But this story does have a happy ending. Menzel’s/Dazeem’s show ticket sales went through the roof. People probably wanted to get a good look at the “wickedly talented” Dazeem.
With an Incomplete Symbol of Harmony
Many people look forward to the opening program of the Olympics and the 2014 games in Sochi were no different. That is until the symbol of harmony, of all the nations coming together, went horribly wrong. The lighted display was supposed to feature five snowflake that would transform into the Olympic rings. Four of them did, while a final would-be ring remained a stubborn snowflake. Most of the world watched it live and witnessed this incomplete symbol of harmony, while Russian viewers were treated to a switch where they saw the day’s earlier practice and the rings behaving to expectations.
But the event planners had a little fun at their own expense when in the closing ceremonies, they featured dancers arranged as the four rings, with a fifth group hesitating before it stubbornly joined the rest.
With a Wrong Phone Number
Erika Turan, Senior Account Executive at Rasor Marketing Communications, shared a fun story on LinkedIn about the importance of proofreading a phone number. An acquaintance of hers was coordinating a public event for a hospital service. The invitation gave a phone number to register for the event. He gave an 800 number instead of the correct 888 number. Seems harmless enough, except that the number on the invite was for an adult entertainment line. Needless to say, it’s always good to proofread and maybe try the phone number before it goes out to everyone.
Without Practicing the Timing
Timing is everything, right? If you’re making an event announcement set to music, a light show, slides or anything that has a definitive ending, it’s important that you rehearse and rehearse. The last thing you want is the multi-media to be finished before you are.
Without a Dress Rehearsal
We’ve all seen wardrobe malfunctions but sometimes they are preventable. For instance, no one may realize how diaphanous that gown is under the bright lights of a stage. That’s why a dress rehearsal for a big announcement is always a good play. So is double-sided wardrobe tape.
Without Knowing Exactly Where the Cameras Will Be When
This is extremely important during corporate event announcements. Should the camera be on the CEO or the product unveiling? The answer is always yes. Overshoot now, have more material to work with later.
While we can all enjoy a little laugh at the expense of these event announcement fails, there’s no fun behind being involved. If it does happen to you, be transparent about it. If possible, enjoy the laugh and hope that you and John Travolta will have something in common - an explosion of ticket sales.