5 PR lessons learned from wedding planning
Here comes the bride… it’s wedding season! As a PR pro with more than 20 years of experience, I am still learning something new about promotions and publicity every day. Even when planning my wedding.
A few weeks ago, I tied the knot while celebrating with family and friends back home in Minnesota. Because the groom and I were California-based at the time and traveling non-stop up until a week prior, it took a lot of detail coordinating and remote planning.
Vows, bouquet toss, and tiered cake aside, a wedding is like a huge business launch or product unveiling. In fact, it reminded me of how PR tactics, regardless of their size and budget, deserve proper project management and communication for success.
As in business, the reviews of our wedding mattered. We wanted our audience (our guests) to have an amazing time. Not only at our wedding, but while visiting the Midwest—which for many was a place they’d only seen in movies.
They invested their time and money to travel up north to the lakes of Minnesota. It was only fair my groom and I make the entire weekend worth their while!
Without further ado, here are five PR and marketing lessons I’ve learned planning our big day.
Plan it out
I’ll admit it, organization and planning are kind of my things. I went pretty Bridezilla about maintaining a plan for our nuptials. After coordinating thousands of events, I like what I like what I like and I know what I like.
Ergo, having a plan matters.
With weddings, you need to keep track of dresses, guest lists, music, who is standing where, who is seated next to whom, transportation, and if you can sit down without your dress seams exploding.
These are just a few of the details you need to stay on top of.
As a former wedding planner and semi-professional bridesmaid, I’ve seen way too many brides brought to tears because of peanut gallery comments from their mothers, sisters, bridesmaids, and vendors. Hell, I was brought to tears many a time by a lot of people’s actions and comments.
The same applies to PR.
Having a PR plan, or even a rough promotional timeline, will leave little room for input from the peanut gallery. When in doubt, you can refer to this plan time and again to keep you moving toward your promotional goals.
Images are everything
A picture is worth a thousand words so it’s important you invest in photography. Especially leading up to and on your wedding day. This is one area not skimp on.
Memories matter. As do the images you use to promote your brand or business.
After receiving our engagement photos back, it reminded me why it’s so important for brands of any size to invest in high quality images and photography for the PR and marketing efforts.
Could I have asked a friend to whip out their iPhone and snap a few shots of my fiancé and I necking and call it an engagement photo? Of course. Would I have been able to pull a car over in a middle of a tree-lined parking lot right as the sun was setting, light the shot to look as if it was part of a romantic comedy, and capture the over-the-top adorable way my fiancé looks at me? No, that’s what a talented professional photographer is for.
The same applies to any images associated with your brand.
These visuals not only capture but tell your story, which leads to publicity and media visibility for your business.
Tell them, then tell them again
One of the first activities all the respected wedding gurus encourage is for the newly engaged couple to set up their personalized wedding website. Here you can provide detailed wedding information, including dates, transportation, activities, and registry info in one place.
A few months later, brides and grooms are encouraged to send guests who may travel for the impending nuptials Save the Date announcements. These also are chockful of information and, more likely than not, direct guests back to the wedding website for more details.
Finally, as the big day approaches, the actual wedding invitations are mailed. It includes information the happy couple has shared numerous times via their website, Save the Dates, and word-of-mouth.
Are you catching the repetition here? Good, you should be.
Guests compliment and appreciate receiving the same information numerous times. They need the guidance. It makes their lives, and their trip, easier.
As the bride, who doesn’t want to answer 500 questions as the wedding day approaches, it makes your life easier.
Like PR, you need to tell your target audience what you want them to know about your business. You need to impress on them, through repetition, what you want them to think or feel about your brand.
Then you need to repeat those steps. Repeatedly. And then once again.
By guiding them through the journey, you’ll assure they have the best experience possible, whether it’s staying updated on your latest social media endeavors or purchasing one of your products.
As a bride, your wedding day is all about you. Well, you and your groom. Therefore, it is important to keep all aspects of the day personal to you both as well as your guests.
I’m biased, but feel our wedding was the perfect representation of our soon-to-be-family’s brand.
From the Costco cakes (don’t judge, they’re the best) to my veil (made from the beads from my Grandmother’s dress with our new monogram) to our hashtag (#youBlattcha, get it? Midwesterners!). Even the readings we selected, which included a few Warren Buffett quotes, were far from those typically recited during a wedding ceremony. I also may have monogrammed everything I possibly could that wasn’t moving. These little personal touches are what made our wedding day ours.
The same can be said your PR strategy.
It’s the little, personalized details that make your brand stand out and gain you diehard brand enthusiasts and customers. If you don’t believe me, head over to Instagram, where even bloggers just starting are approach their feeds with filters that are on-brand.
Be mindful of others
Hey, it’s your day and it’s about the two of you together. Sadly, planning a wedding isn’t all diamonds, dresses, and happy tears.
Not everything is going to be perfect. That’s life.
You’ll never be able to control the perceptions or misconceptions of others. Not all communications will go as planned. Small disasters will happen.
People may not like where their name appears on the seating chart. You may not be able to invite everyone. Your wedding band may go missing 90 minutes before the ceremony. Feelings will be hurt for no particular reason at all except that weddings bring out #allthefeels.
Executing on your PR strategy brings out the same kind of hiccups on the path to happily ever after.
If a customer feels they have been treated unfairly and want vindication, they will hop right on to social media and complain. Does your promotional plan account for that? It should.
You then must make a choice; do you ignore it or handle the situation? Hint: Always handle the situation.
You also should always show your gratitude. In the wedding world, this comes in the form of handwritten thank you cards and glowing vendor reviews.
In the digital world of business, old-fashioned manners like thank you cards still matter. If an employee or customer deserves acknowledgement or recognition, let them know with a personalized note.
Large or small, it’s important for your brand to create an experience your target audience will fall in love with. Follow the tips above, and I guarantee you’ll PR happily ever after.
What PR lessons have your learned from wedding season?