Mind the Customer Experience at your Next PR Event


You may have heard of a relatively new buzzword that is getting lots of play in the customer service and telecom arenas: customer experience management (CEM). I thought about this when I attended a press luncheon this week that our agency helped put together.

The event went very well, and had all of the nice touches. It took place in an upscale NYC restaurant.
We had a semi-private area carved out, and about 20 people in attendance, including journalists, PR and client staff, and a guest analyst.  There were no empty tables – media attendance was what we had hoped it would be.

We paid careful attention to the seating arrangement to make sure that vendor executives were evenly distributed. There was an air of buzz and excitement as we took our seats – the media were told in advance that this would be a major announcement, and they seemed to be eager to learn more over a very nice lunch.

The speakers were top notch. They did not get too deep down into the tech "weeds" and made sure to include application examples that were impressive and easy-to-understand. The information that they shared about the company's leadership market position was helpful to those who were just getting to know the company,

The spokespeople made their pitches with the help of large monitors on either side of the podium.
The news covered a very technical, B2B product, yet the demos showed compelling benefits for end users. The speakers tied product features and benefits to relevant industry trends, and the analyst added an important air of credibility to the event.

OK, so the press luncheon wasn't perfect. Perhaps the presentations went on for just a little too long – and no food was served for about an hour during this time. But that was OK, as the reporters were literally salivating over the news – and would not leave until we fed them! Some might have found the noise from other parts of the restaurant to be a little distracting – on the other hand there was a good vibe, it was clearly a popular and happening restaurant – hopefully sending the message (by association) that our client and its news were happening too.

I was seated next to a reporter from a major newswire and was very pleased to see her listening very carefully, taking notes, and quizzing one of the vendor execs at our table about the news. As I watched our other "customer" clearly taking in and enjoying the proceedings, the importance of the phrase CEM to what we do in PR really hit home.

After all, I can say with a fair degree of certainty that the newswire reporter (and other media in attendance) have no hands-on experience with this technology.
All they had to go on was the information that was presented, within the context of a very nice backdrop – an elegant meal at a fine NYC restaurant, with all of the nice touches that supported our news.

It is hard to know for sure without asking the journalists – but I hope and
believe the experience we delivered was a good one – and played a role in
how they regard the brand and cover the news.

Some may dismiss CEM as just another buzzword. And, while it may be more often associated with things like billing, support, and call quality – if you are in PR and planning an event, make sure that the media customer experience is optimal.

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