This transcript is from Episode 9 of The Savvy Event Planner Podcast
To listen to this podcast, please visit: http://SavvyEventPodcast.com/9
Transcript consists of guest interview only.
Tom: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm on the line with David Ranalli. David, you are a magician and a media expert.
David: Yes, yes. I wouldn't say necessarily expert, but I've been out in the field doing it day by day and I seem to know what works and what doesn't so I definitely think I have some thoughts that I could be able to share with your listeners.
Tom: Fantastic. Well, start by giving us a little bit of your background. Tell us how you became a magician and involved in events, and how you learned about media.
David: Sure, so I started off as a magician when I was 13 years old. I went to see David Copperfield and from then on I was just always interested in it. I got started performing in restaurants, which I then moved to private parties. Now, after college, I moved into the corporate entertainment world so I do a lot of conventions, corporate appreciation events like holiday parties, or client appreciation, and then just a variety of other events like galas and other sorts of public events. So I am involved within the events world pretty heavily and I try to get up to a lot of industry related events and keep up within that world.
As far as the media aspect goes, when I was in college I wanted to get started learning how to market my magic. That's pretty much what I went to college for, so I studied public relations. A variety of the classes and studies that I was a part of were related to how people interact with media, the psychology behind media and then just new ways that it was gonna be able to be applied. So this was right when Twitter was literally just coming out, Facebook, all these places were gaining real popularity and were starting to become something integrated into people's pocket and their daily lives and everything. So when I saw all of that taking place, I really wanted to get ahead of it and really understand it and be able to apply it to my business. And not many people really realize it, but magic actually has a strong tie within public relations and marketing. Harry Houdini was one of the people who really pioneered different techniques of getting your name out there, getting it seen by a lot of different people. It's decades after he's been dead and I don't think there is a person in America who doesn't know his name still.
Tom: He along with P.T. Barnum, two of the biggest promoters…
Tom: …and public relations people in the business. Now, were talking about media, and we're talking about all these social medias. Is social media a totally separate beast from traditional media?
David: Well, traditional media…well, I guess let's take a step back as far as media goes, as far as communication goes. When you go back all the way to the book, the printing press, these are different ways of getting your ideas out into the world. Many decades ago, one of the only ways to really get your name out or whatever it was that you were doing, was face-to-face contact, or by having business cards. So everybody had Rolodexes of business cards and they were able to keep track of their contacts that way.
Today, or actually a few decades later, let's get into television. When television and radio were extremely popular, it was a single person or company, or a group of people who had the cameras, who had the equipment and the distribution channels like the radio cell towers, the satellites to be able to distribute that information. So now when we take a look at what we have going on today, everybody has that entire infrastructure in their pocket on their smartphone. And so when we think about what traditional media is now, they pretty much have the same tools as we do only theirs are more complex. They are a lot more finely tuned. They have teams in place to create content, to distribute content so they are basically just more powerful than we are. But if your ideas are good, if you have a certain way of applying the information, you can do a lot of damage with the cell phone that's just in your pocket and use it for whatever your goals are in communication and for distributing that sort of information.
Tom: So we've got all these social medias and it can be rather intimidating. How can an event planner make the best use of all these outlets?
David: So since everybody does have these tools in their pocket, they have all these social media sites, there is a different way that you can be communicating messages and, yeah, it definitely can be overwhelming. You may not know where to put your time into so it's important to take a step back and think about it, what kind of events you're maybe planning. So if you work within a company, you're likely taking a specific event that they want to have planned, maybe a holiday party, a client appreciation event, and it is going to be your job to put on the event. And this media can be beneficial to you because you can essentially document the event, so you can share those photos with the people who went. You can share it with your boss so they see exactly what you did and exactly how it came out. And then you also are pretty much being able to build a portfolio for yourself so that, say, you ever leave that job or want to get more serious within the events industry, you can take that information as a documentation of your past work and apply it there and show them what you've done.
If we think about event planners who are third parties, it's the same thing. You're able to document everything that you've done and show future prospective clients. And also it serves as a storytelling about your brand, your vision. So if you're a luxury event planner so say for like weddings outside of the maybe the corporate entertainment world, you're able to tell the story of how these two people came to be, the experience that they had on their wedding day. It's very story [inaudible 00:06:15] to maybe the brand of a lavish event that you were able to put on for them.
Tom: When I was thinking of social media, I was thinking about how event planners could get the word out about their event, maybe keep them engaged while they're there and you've brought up another viewpoint for me. Let's talk about the ways that event planners can use social media for their events.
David: Sure, so social media, in general, is a storytelling platform. It's sharing information. It's sharing the…in the events world, you're essentially sharing the experience that everybody had. You can use it as a platform to sell or you can use it as a platform to story tell about something that's happening. So in the events world, you're able to tell the story of an experience that you were able to put together for a group of people. And now that may help sell what you do, but what's nice about social media is that it's a very communal thing. You can share experiences and people can comment on them and not necessarily feel like they are being sold anything. So if you work as an independent event planner, just sharing those experiences is something that other people are going to be able to look onto and to read up on and feel the emotion that you were trying to express from that experience.
And if you work within the company, you're sharing the experience that everyone had together. Now everybody's got the pictures from the event. They can keep them. If you are trying to sell something on social media, it's very important, in my mind, to do it sparingly and to do it in a way that is very tasteful. I think we've all had the friends on there or seen companies who try a bit too hard to sell something in almost a spammy way, and I think a lot of users and a lot of people, in general, are really jaded to that approach. And so the best way to do it is to take the long view and to focus on sharing experiences, on sharing ideas and then, every once in awhile, asking for the sale in a tasteful way.
Tom: If I'm an event planner and I wanted to get word out about an event that I'm planning…let's say I'm a member of an association. How would I go about using social media to do that? How do I get in front of them? And I know that not everybody sees a Tweet when it goes by so how do I do that multiple times without appearing spammy?
David: Sure, so well for one thing as far as Twitter goes, let's look at each platform. I definitely think that there's good things that you can do. So for Twitter, it's definitely the new normal to send a Tweet multiple times, maybe tweak it in slightly different ways because Twitter really is just a large volume of content, micro-content, that it really is easy to pass up. So don't feel bad about Tweeting about things multiple times. There's so much content on Facebook, Instagram, doing a post per day on those platforms it's not out of the norm. It's only spammy if you're essentially being annoying. So how can you take that, whatever that subject is and turn it into something that they get value out of?
So say you're an association and you want to get word out that Jay Leno is going to be giving a keynote at your event. You might be able to convince him to make a quick video saying, “Hey, this is Jay Leno I'm gonna be at such and such association, would love to see you there, really excited for it. Talk to you soon.” Taking that, putting it on YouTube, and then sharing that YouTube video on Facebook, on Twitter, through your LinkedIn page that's something that's really going to generate excitement among people. They are going to share it and be like “Oh my gosh I didn't know that Jay Leno is going to be there and he was talking directly to us.” So they are going to feel good about that sort of a thing. So if you have some sort of a keynote speaker, if you have some sort of specialized subject, you can ask people “Hey, before the event starts give us your opinion on this subject so that when we go to this association meeting we can talk about it and bring up your points ahead of time.” So getting people involved in the event, feeling like they're already involved with it and creating anticipation for it is definitely something that you can try to do.
Tom: We've got so many different types of social media. Let's take a few of them because I know I'd leave some out, but let's take a few of them and get some possible tips from you as you've experienced them. And if you haven't experienced a particular social media or you're not comfortable with it, just let me know because there's so many medias out there that it's hard to be versed in them all. One example, Periscope, what the heck is Periscope? I'm hearing about Periscope right and left. Are you familiar with that?
David: Yeah, I'm familiar with Periscope and then there's also a competitor called Meerkat like the animal from the Lion King with Timon and Pumba. Those are live video feeds for an event. It records whatever the user is filming, and then it streams it. People can watch it live and then it records it and then there's a link that they can watch it later. So this is the start of the, basically, the virtual reality experience. As Oculus Rift, the glasses company, becomes more developed by Facebook, I think we're going to be seeing a lot more of the trend to take whatever's happening live and distribute it to people who follow you, to people who are interested in the subject who might find you via hashtag. Yeah, Periscope is really great because you can get people involved who are not even at the event and same with Meerkat. They pretty much have the same functionality, but Periscope was officially adopted by Twitter so I think Meerkat could end up being on its way out down the road.
Tom: Twitter, what are some tips on Twitter? How do you create interest in, what is it, 140 characters?
David: Yeah, Twitter is…there's a guy who's big on social media. He owns a company called VaynerMedia. His name is Gary Vaynerchuk. I liked his description of Twitter and that is that it's the cocktail party of the internet. So you can literally just talk to pretty much anybody that you want. You can Tweet at your favorite talk show. You can tweet at some celebrities. You can tweet at individual people within your company, and then you can also just broadcast your thoughts as well. Now, I don't have a giant following on Twitter. I don't use it that often. So I definitely don't have some sort of secret sauce to it, but whatever the social media platform is they each have a bit of a voice and a tone to it. If you like Twitter, keeping something short, snappy, almost news headline like is gonna be more effective than trying to do something that's a bit more elaborate. You can have a link to link out to more lengthy content, but it's more for broadcasting a quick thought or tweeting at somebody to ask them a question or get some interaction with them.
Tom: Okay. When we get to something like YouTube, is that considered a social media?
David: YouTube is a social media. There is…I think the usership [SP] is down with it from what I've seen and that's largely due to Facebook integrating video natively within the Facebook feed. So if you put a link to a YouTube video, Facebook now penalizes…doesn't necessarily penalize but doesn't reward you for posting the YouTube video. They would rather you put a video that the file is uploaded directly to Facebook. They're going to share that more. But as far as YouTube goes, you can…it's social in the sense that, one, people can leave comments on videos. They can talk and interact with other people within the comments. And sometimes they can be really good comments, sometimes really bad but it is a social media site. And the people who make regular YouTube videos a lot of times they get social with themselves so say an event…there could be events by communities within YouTube or there could be different celebrities on YouTube who interact with each other and make collaborative videos together. And then it's social also in the sense that whatever content you make you can share with other people on other platforms and get interaction in that sense.
Tom: When we get to Facebook, which is currently one of the most popular social medias out there as far as I know, what are some tips on engaging your audience and getting some feedback there?
David: So Facebook, like any platform, it needs consistency. And that's really the secret to getting good with any platform or building awareness or a following is posting consistently, interacting consistently. And Facebook is probably the most powerful platform right now to gain a following on, to gain awareness for your brand, to have interaction with because they've really…not only do they have the user base, but they've taken the time to adopt pretty much the best of the internet onto Facebook. So you've got hashtags now, you've got videos, native videos that get seen by more people. Your business can have a presence with a Facebook page and so whatever it is that an event planner's goals could be using a [inaudible 00:16:32] like that, it's just important to make sure that you follow the tone and the context to it.
And if you need help with that sort of thing, you can find Gary Vaynerchuck's book called the Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. And he describes in depth the tone which stands out best within certain platforms. What posts look best? What's gonna get more interaction with it? And so if you decide on a platform like Facebook to be your main platform that you're gonna use, you can really take the time to see “Okay, I'm gonna take…instead of posting the YouTube video, maybe I'll put the YouTube video into a blog post and then link out to it so it gets more visibility. Or maybe I'll just upload it natively into the Facebook feed so that it gets more visibility.” And you can really learn whatever the techniques are to stand out on there because even though there are so many users on there, so many people building content, you can stand out very easily on Facebook just by building good content on it.
Tom: Let's also talk for a second about Instagram because Instagram…I see a lot of Instagram photos coming across Twitter and Facebook. What is that social media all about?
David: So Instagram was bought by Facebook a few years ago. And what's nice about Facebook is there's really no text. There are captions to photos which you can put some hashtags in there to try to get your photo found by a specific user base. But what's nice about it is that people are going there to see the pictures because they want to see the photographs themselves as opposed to something like Facebook where there's photos, there's videos, there's statuses, there's trending topics, a bunch of different things where Instagram is centralized to this main idea of looking at photos. Now, they also dropped their ad platform recently so you can pay…I don't now how open it is to the public. I haven't really investigated that just yet, but you can post a photo, pay to have it seen by a specific user base. And, since Facebook has the best targeting technology in the world, you're basically adopting all the information that they have through Facebook and through Instagram to create a more powerful tool. So, again, it's story telling natively to the platform and whatever your brand stands for, whatever the experience is that you're having, you can take those, capture them, and share them with everybody in a nice little square photograph and add some filters to it and…
Tom: So now that we've got an understanding of some of the different social medias that are available out there, what do event planners have to understand or be conscious about when they're creating their media?
David: For event planners, what are you talking about in-house or third party?
Tom: Well, both in-house and third party.
Tom: What do they need to be conscious about when they're creating media for an event or if they're a third party and they're trying to get their name out in front of event planners from the companies or clients…
Tom: …what do they need to be conscious about?
David: Sure, so, first of all for third party event planners, I would definitely say that your website is your home base. Make sure that it's extremely strong. There is a lot of websites out there that aren't mobile friendly yet. They have pages that look like they're under construction. They look like they were designed in the 90s. Please update your website and make it look good. It's never been easier before to do that, to have the…and to be able to update it yourself so you don't feel like you need to call, necessarily, somebody who is a web designer to do it. So look out for platforms like WordPress and for Square Space because those platforms are going to be the easiest to navigate and learn for yourself.
And also for your website, make sure that you ask yourself, “What's in it for me?” Somebody whose shopping, who's looking within your website as a brochure, make sure you're answering the question of “What's in it for them?” And I would also say that it's not as necessary anymore to have long text descriptions of everything. A picture really does say a thousand words and it's almost better to have a nice visual photograph on there versus two paragraphs of text. So it shows the results as opposed to you describing them.
And for independent event planners, I would say that…or for event planners within the company if you don't have the ability to create a page within your businesses, whoever you work for, their website, make an independent blog. You could go to the WordPress, make a free blog and be able to share photographs from the events that you're doing and make sure that it's oriented around whatever your goals are. It's never been easier to be able to do that.
And then also for whether you're an independent event planner or whether you are a in-house event planner, really think about your events in ways you can capitalize with media at the event both before, during, after the event. You can use media to generate excitement before the event, but as we've talked about doing…whatever it is you're going to be doing generating interest for it, peaking interest, making sure that you get the word out about it. At the event, you could be sharing photographs from it, be like “Hey, we're having a great time.” Vide record on Periscope maybe your keynote speaker just a short blurb of what they're doing. And then afterwards, you can compile everything and make a…you can put together a little video capturing everything that happened. You could share a folder that has all of the photographs within it, different things like that. You can take some time to use your cell phone to get a media team in place to capture the event and reap all the benefits from doing that.
Tom: When were talking about marking after an event, I understand that you did a special thank you video. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how that was used as a follow-up?
David: Sure, so one event that I did this year it was called Rev it was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and it was a fundraiser for IU Health, so it's a big hospital and it was a very glamours event. A lot of football players were there, a lot of race car drivers and so I did magic on the red carpet. I did a stage show. I did magic in the VIP areas. And so I actually brought in my own media team to that event to capture everything. And so not only did I get great photographs of that for my own personal media, but I put together a little video summarizing me at the event and then I shared that with Rev's media team, the actual organization itself. I shared that with IU health, and then also with the Indy 500 just to try to spread a bit more awareness of everything that had happened at the event. So not only did we have a summary of the value I was able to bring to the event, but we also gained a little bit of awareness getting other people to share the video and get it seen by more people.
Tom: Okay, we'll have a link to that on the show notes for this episode, so make sure that after you're done listening to all this you head over to the site and check that out. Now, David, there are pitfalls to working with media. Obviously the first one is that there's a lot of work involved. So let's talk about some of the problems associated with coordinating all this media.
David: Obviously if you're working with in-house at a company, you've got another job to do. There's a lot on your plate. It doesn't have to be a way too complicated for you so the first thing is to acknowledge that all of this can be taxing and so to take it in small little bites. If you really want to have more of a media presence, make a list of everything that you might need, all of the platforms that you want to use or something that could be worth trying out at a future event. And if you aren't able to make it second nature, you can possibly hire it out to somebody else as well.
So the first thing to do is try to figure out where it is you might get stuck and make sure that you get around that hurdle in anticipation of all of the extra work that you're going to have on top of that. Get the proper equipment, I would also say. If you're going to take the time to videotape your events and you personally are going to be doing it, you can spend $1000 and have a great camera that's going to last you many years and give you very, very high quality footage. If you're going to use your cell phone, which I often do, I am able to edit all of the videos that I have. I have my bumpers uploaded to my cell phone. I have a special video editing software which I can send you a link to for the app. I forget what it's called right now. And I think within 15 minutes, I can edit a very basic video, have it uploaded directly to YouTube and be done with it. So it doesn't have to be complicated in that sense either. You can have everything done within minutes and move along and on to your next task.
And the last thing I would definitely say is schedule some time to do it. Make it into small chunks. I personally try to do one media goal per week because I could try to make videos every single day. I would get burned out from it. So I schedule one per week, of standing out within media, that I can do in a very easy way. And then if I'm having an event and an opportunity comes up, then I can take the time to do that and keep going with it because, yeah, it can be overwhelming for sure.
Tom: You talked about investing in a high-quality video camera. Out of curiosity do you know off the top of your head what video camera you use?
David: Me, personally, I use a Cannon VIXIA G20. I think it was about $900 and it's been a real asset for me and everything that I do. I think there's also a G30. It's got some nice extra features. It's a few extra hundred more. I've heard that it's worth going through the effort to get that.
Tom: It's funny you mention that because I actually have the 30, and I don't know how to use all the features on it yet, but I do love the quality of it. You also talked about your website and making it mobile friendly. Can you give us some tips on that?
David: Sure, yeah, being mobile friendly is extremely important because especially if you want to stand out in Google. So say you're an independent event planner and you want your website to be seen within Google, Google is now penalizing people who do not have a mobile-friendly site. So they give priority to people who are. And, in reality, most people are shopping through their cell phones these days anyway. They're absorbing content through their cell phones, through tablets. If it's not mobile friendly, then you're definitely in a bad spot. So if you stick with a site like WordPress or Square Space, it's most of the time the themes are mobile friendly as it is so you're one step ahead. If you're using a static HTML site that was built a few years ago, you don't have that capability so it might be time to invest some money, hire somebody out if you need to and to get your site more updated.
Tom: Before we started talking you gave me a couple other action steps that you wanted to share with our listeners. So what other social media or media planning steps can they take?
David: Again, get a camera if you can. Even if you don't have a high-quality camera, most cell phones have incredibly high-quality footage and not only are you going to get high-quality footage from that, but you can also take when you upload a video to your main computer, you can take screenshots of that and get photographs of that as well. So if you have some really nice footage and you're like, “Oh I didn't get any photographs of that event.” Get into your computer take some screen shots. Boom, you've got some photos.
Two. If your website isn't mobile friendly, definitely freshen it up. It's your place to brag. It's your place to highlight everything that you've done. It's your place to sell yourself. It's not just a place to just say, “Hey, I exist.” There is way more that you can do with it and make sure that each page has an action step that leads people to a new place. Another nice thing with cell phones is you can get video testimonials or written testimonials and probably display them on your site. Show people what you've done. I have a little compilation video of video testimonials so I took maybe the 10 best ones that I had and put them into a nice little video so that people see oh, okay there's a wide variety of people. So then not only are they seeing video testimonials, but they don't have to play a bunch of individual videos which can be very time-consuming. People have less time than ever so that's pretty important.
And then four, I would say, don't be afraid to get into media. Don't be afraid of the stuff. It's definitely a lot to do but if you're not afraid of it, you're going to feel more compelled to get more media. And also get used to taking selfies with people. In fact, eliminate the word selfie from your vocabulary. That's probably not good action stuff because just back in the day somebody would have to take the photograph of somebody. Now you can do that with backwards facing cameras, just get used to doing that. Those are still really great photos to share and even if they may feel like 12-year-olds are mainly the ones doing it, you definitely can do it as well. And lastly, just be bold and stand out. If you've got something really unique on your hands, if you've got something really unique at your event, capture it, share it with people. Show off in a tasteful way because it's gonna only benefit you from displaying yourself in the best possible manner.
Tom: David, you shared a lot with us today. If our audience is interested in learning a little bit more about you or social media, how can they go about getting in touch with you?
David: Sure. Well, first of all, I wanted to give your listeners something of value. It's a 10 action steps that they can take immediately to improve their social media presence, their websites, and they can go to davidranalli, R-A-N-A-L-L-I.com/savvy-events-planner-podcast, and I'll have a little sign up thing. They can just get that PDF right into their inbox. And also if you have any questions, just feel free to reach out to me personally. You can follow me on Facebook, on Instagram. Those are the two that I use the most. And then we can also connect via LinkedIn also.
Tom: Okay, fantastic and we'll have a link to that as well in the show notes so that if anybody has trouble with remembering all that, they can just go over to the episode and they can get it there. David, thank you so much for your time today. It was a pleasure sitting down to talk with you, and I look forward to bringing you back in the future and we can expand on this a little bit more.
David: Sounds good. Thanks so much, Tom.
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