FindLaw’s Guide to Hosting the Perfect Law Firm Event
There’s power in face-to-face interaction, and one of the best ways to cultivate relationships with your clients and peers is by hosting an event. When you invest in people, you are able to develop a deeper connection that is oftentimes missed online.
However, it’s easy to overlook all of the logistics that come from event management. There are schedules to coordinate, budgets to set, invites to send and messages to promote. Even the most seasoned event planner can miss a deadline or detail if not careful. Stick to this guide closely to help stay organized and stress-free the next time your firm hosts an event.
FOUR TO SIX MONTHS IN ADVANCE
From the moment you get the green light, it’s time to put a plan in motion.
Determine your goals and purpose of the event.
Before you build out the publicity plan and contact your speakers, have a clear idea of why the event is happening in the first place.
- Who is the target audience? Current or past clients, attorneys, community members
- What are the objectives of the event? Lead generation, networking, brand awareness, educational
- How will you measure success? Satisfaction surveys, social media engagements, attendance, live polling, revenue, number of leads
Set the details.
The date and time of an event is often out of your control due to the venue or speaker availability, so make sure you have these details set in stone early before you promote it to the masses:
- Select two or three dates and contact the host and/or speaker to determine availability.
Tip: Make sure the tentative date does not fall on a religious or cultural holiday.
- Identify and book your venue, caterer and other vendors.
Tip: Verify the rules around bringing outside food and drink inside the venue if you’re planning to use a caterer.
- Determine if you will provide attendees with a +1.
Tip: If the event is dealing with client appreciation, it’s proper etiquette to let them bring a guest. It’s about celebrating them after all.
- Settle on a firm date and time.
Tip: If you can, avoid Friday for an evening event, as many people are tired from a long workweek.
Find a partner.
Depending on the event, it could be a good idea to partner with another non-competing law office or other organization around town to host your event. It’s a win-win – doubling your resources while also fostering relationships with community members.
Create the publicity plan.
When building your marketing plan around the event, keep these questions in mind:
- Will the event need its own website?
- Do I have the bio and headshot of my speaker/host?
- What topics tie to this event that I can blog about?
- What visuals do I need for social media and the website?
- Will I send invitations digitally or in the mail?
- How do I plan on receiving and tracking RSVPs?
Are your marketing strategies driving success?
Or are they costing you?
Learn which web metrics are worth paying attention to and those you should avoid going forward.
TWO TO THREE MONTHS IN ADVANCE
As the date approaches, it’s time to nail down the specifics.
Confirm the guest list.
Work with your office to determine who you would like to invite. Use your customer relationship management (CRM) tool or a spreadsheet to create the list, including name, email, physical address, relation to the firm, diet restrictions (if the event will have food) and a column to track if you have received an RSVP.
Design and/or order your invitations.
Deciding if you want to go digital or traditional? Here are some pros and cons of each:
Pros: Saves money, speeds up response time, ability to import RSVPs online, can include hyperlink to maps/directions
Cons: Easy to miss amongst email clutter, can create an informal vibe
Pros: Ability to reach everyone (some guests might not have an email address), more personal, creates a lasting memory
Cons: Costly, not environmentally friendly, inability to easily track RSVPs online
Put your publicity plan in motion.
What should be completed:
- Event webpage created
- Press release on website and circulated to all media partners
- Event posted to all community calendars
- Blog post on event topic
- Social media announcement
Figure out how you will track RSVPs.
Whether you send an email invite or a physical invitation, you need to have a way to organize RSVPs. Free online management tools like RSVPify and Eventbrite are available if you don’t want to manually update a spreadsheet.
ONE MONTH IN ADVANCE
As you get closer to the event, the main details should be solidified. Now is the time to firm up plans and spread the word.
Design and print event programs.
The most important elements to include in your program are:
- Event name
- Date, time and location
- Firm logo
- Social media handles (with unique event hashtag)
- Website URL
- Schedule of events
- Partnership/sponsorship information
- Map or floorplan of venue
- Speaker bio(s)
- Contact information
Send out your invites.
A good rule of thumb is to send out your invitations three to four weeks in advance. This timing ensures guests have plenty of time to plan around the event while also making sure it’s not forgotten.
Continue with the publicity plan.
What should be completed:
- Paid promotion (social and pay-per-click)
- Guest post on blog from speaker or host
- Ongoing social media promotion
WEEK OF EVENT
The time is almost here. Finalize the small details so the day of the event is a breeze!
Finalize your message.
If you don’t have it already, ask the event speaker and/or host for their script.
Take a trip to the venue.
When you’re there, make sure to:
- Test out audio and video equipment
- Map out electrical outlets and ask if you should bring your own extension cords
- Verify when you can access the room the day of the event
- Take a picture of the venue in case you need to recall the layout
Send out a reminder.
Email guests who have yet to RSVP as a final push to increase attendance. If you know someone personally, it’s never a bad idea to pick up the phone and call.
Circulate contact information.
Include phone numbers of everyone involved with the event, like the caterer and any other vendors you are working with.
Finish out your publicity plan.
What should be completed:
- Last-call email blast
- Paid promotion (social and PPC)
- Teaser video or graphic on website and social
AFTER THE EVENT
It’s over – you can breathe. But don’t forget to seal the deal with a few final items.
Send out a thank you email to all attendees.
Tip: Send a “Sorry we Missed You!” email with photos to invited guests who couldn’t attend.
Conduct a satisfaction survey.
This is also the perfect chance to ask for testimonials. Common questions to ask in your survey are:
- How was your overall experience?
- Was the topic relevant to you?
- How would you rate the venue?
- What was the highlight of the event?
- How would you rate the speaker(s)?
- Was the registration/RSVP process easy?
Share event photos on social media and your website. Pictures increase engagement and also remind attendees of the experience (as well as show people who couldn’t attend what a good time was had!).
DON’T STOP THERE
Are your other marketing strategies driving success to your law firm? Learn which web metrics are worth paying attention to and those you should avoid going forward in our white paper, Your Traffic Report is Lying to You.