The Art of the Invite

So you want to be the life of the party? Or maybe you just want to give your party some life. Either way, knowing who’s who and getting them to your event isn’t always a cake walk. Luckily, you’ve got us, and we’ve got the invite strategies to have you saying, “Hip-Hip Hooray”.

Who you invite to your party is an important consideration, and dignitaries can lend a source of credibility, provide a source of engagement for your audience, and sometimes become donors or sponsors for your cause. While traditionally thought of as celebrities or political figures, a dignitary can be defined as anyone of significance and influence within your organization’s stakeholder group. These individuals are otherwise regarded as the “titans of industry”.

While the attendance of a dignitary may sound ideal for your event, you must first establish the purpose of your event, your attending audience, as well as who your dignitaries are and what you hope to gain from their presence. Who you should consider inviting to your event depends strongly upon your organizational objective, and whether you’re seeking to simply get people in the door, or gain momentum behind a specific cause. Common considerations for dignitaries include local and regional stakeholders, political figures and council members, community partners and clubs, as well as industry leaders and educational professionals.

An example of this process is how Broadreach Vice President and Senior Strategist, Jason Sulham, and Broadreach Senior Client Manager, Paula Stanton, managed to generate dignitary support for the Maine Brewer’s Guild and the inaugural New England Craft Brew Summit. The purpose of the event was to bring New England craft brewers together to celebrate the brewing business, as well as develop strategies for sustained growth and infrastructure as to help propel the industry forward. In preparation for the event, Sulham and Stanton had extended an invitation of attendance to two members of Maine’s congressional delegation, U.S. Senator Angus King and U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree. These dignitaries were sought out due to their impression on the Maine and federal legal system, as well as their demonstrated support for stimulating local economic growth. Not only did these dignitaries attend the event, they also spoke on behalf of the craft brewing industry, and noted the positive economic impact that brewers are having on the state of Maine.

Of course, this is only one example of a dignitary invite gone well. To make sure you achieve similar results, you must first have a firm grasp on what it is that you are hoping to accomplish. Once you have established an understanding of your event’s purpose and delineated which dignitaries are relevant to your organizational concept, you can then transition into extending invitations. However, before initiating any type of contact, you must also consider the professional relationship you have with the individual, as well as their status-level. Previous relationships can impact how you reach out to dignitaries, thus you must assess if your relations are formal, informal, or non-existent. This will help you determine the most appropriate, and most effective, method of contact.

Naturally, if you are familiar with the individual and have a good working relationship, you may consider a slightly less formal approach, such as an email, phone call, or perhaps, a face-to-face invite. On the other hand, if you have never had prior contact with the invitee, it is more appropriate to pursue them with a formal approach, such as a letter, based off a standard business etiquette format.

As it is often difficult to forge sporadic relationships when there is no previous association with the invitee, it is important to consider individuals within your organization who can serve as intermediary sources. Through assessing which of your current contacts have significant affiliations, you can utilize their dignitary connections to make your event invite more appealing. By leveraging already established connections, you can help your organization stand out, as well as make your event a priority to busy professionals. Building strong associations with dignitaries can contribute to the overall credibility of your organization, as well as increase awareness and likelihood of attendance for future events.

While this strategy may seem like a straightforward business practice, it is also important to consider the variability of each situation depending on the goals you are trying to achieve. Attempting to contact a dignitary with a formal invitation or letter may present nicely, however, it is fruitless if the offer does not reach the recipient on time. Thus, it is important to work within relationship boundaries without compromising the need for expediency.

Although it might not always be easy, getting a dignitary through the door might be just what you need to make sure your next party takes the cake.

— by Destinee Cyr, 2017-2018 Broadreach Public Relations Apprentice