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The Role of Event Design in “Publishability”

Tips from a PR pro to improve your shot at getting your events published

Press features remain a prominent promotional strategy for event professionals, driving up competition and inspiring a wave of innovative design concepts. Despite considerable changes in the media landscape, one thing remains true: design plays a significant role in an event’s “publishability.”

If you want to develop an impressive press portfolio, keep press goals in mind as you approach each new event. Where would you like to earn a feature? Which publications can spotlight your work in front of your target audience? Knowing your end goals can help you refine and optimize designs for a particular media outlet.

However, publicity should never be the sole reason for swaying a couple in a different direction. While PR is important for your reputation, your client experience matters more—so don’t risk losing a client’s vision and satisfaction for a chance of future press. 

Instead of pushing a couple toward an inauthentic outcome, work with the ideas they bring to the table and offer creative solutions to elevate the design while staying true to their original vision. Here are a few ways to improve your odds of getting published without sacrificing a client’s happiness.

Up the appeal with color

Classic all-white weddings will never go out of style, but you can imagine an editor’s perspective when their inbox is filled with blush tones and traditional details. Conversely, bold colors and unique combinations are quick to make an impression in a sea of neutrals. When you must work within a popular color palette, look for unconventional ways to increase submission chances, like experimenting with lighting design, rentals, or floral installations. (Turn to page 26 for more on color palettes.)

Use design to tell a story

Many beautiful trends are featured on Pinterest feeds and wedding blogs, but here’s the reality: When you see something online, it has already been done. New trends quickly oversaturate the media, so carbon copies of popular designs typically lack editorial appeal. To avoid falling into the trend trap, pull inspiration from the couple and focus on telling their love story through personalized details.

Think about how you can incorporate design elements that allude to how they met, how they spend their time, and how their cultural backgrounds play a role in their relationship. Favorite foods, musicians, movies, and travel destinations can all provide endless fodder for design. Your couple is the one thing that sets their wedding apart from every other event on earth, so lean into this as a unique selling point for your submission.

Go big with details

While newlyweds appreciate seeing photos of loved ones from their wedding, engaged couples don’t care to see many “people shots” when looking for design ideas. Instead, they want to gather inspiration from floral arrangements, tablescapes, and signage. As a result, editors place a high value on publishing detail shots.

When designing events for publishability, don’t overlook any detail. While flowers and centerpieces often receive credit, pay attention to the subtler elements as well!

Keep these details in mind:

  • Prints and textures: From floral patterns to elegant silk, prints and textures add an extra dimension to an event’s design. Stepping outside of traditional details creates visual interest, boosting editorial appeal. Publications crave well-rounded designs with layers of prints and textures that pop from the page.
  • Paper goods: Invitation suites, menus, programs, and signage often get overlooked in submissions, but they are an essential part of a wedding’s design. Editors love seeing stationery that establishes a cohesive design from beginning to end. It’s also an excellent way to infuse more personalization into a submission.
  • Linens: Specialty linens are a great way to elevate a wedding day design from basic to beyond. Lace, embroidery, jacquard, and sequins can all make a statement when woven into an event’s design. Even with a tight budget, upgrading napkins, table runners, or head tables will help catch an editor’s eye.
  • Rentals: Many venues provide standard chairs and tables, which might appeal to one’s budget. However, specialty rentals are an easy way to stand out in a pile of weddings. For example, replacing ordinary Chiavari chairs with velvet or acrylic chairs can take an event’s design (and its submission) to the next level.

Regarding publishability, there are no such thing as “small” details. Every little facet adds to the big picture, so long as it comes together as a harmonious design.

Support photo quality

Even the most unique and beautiful details will miss the mark if presented at the wrong angle or in poor lighting. Photography can make or break a submission, though many non-photographer vendors feel they have little control over the results.

However, planners and designers have more power than they realize. You can strengthen an event for an editorial win by setting up the photographer for success. Here are a few ways to up the odds for top-notch photos:

  • Refer trusted photographers to couples that haven’t booked one yet.
  • Ensure adequate lighting throughout the event space.
  • Prepare stationery and other details for shooting beforehand.
  • Allow plenty of time in the schedule to avoid rushing newlywed portraits.

And, of course, a thoughtfully designed wedding always photographs best! In addition to personalized details, think about experiences that photograph well. While interactive elements enhance the guest experience, be mindful of how they will be captured in 2D. For example, an elaborate food installation or live portrait artist would likely convey better in photos than a magician or silent disco—even though these ideas may be equally engaging for guests.

Connect with your photo team early to review plans and discuss how you can ensure editors recognize your hard work and creativity in the end product.

Going forward, keep your press goals at the forefront of your mind as you take on new events. What seems like a potential media hit? Stay on top of industry trends and consider how to turn popular ideas into something never seen before, remaining mindful of what editors always look for: originality. 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

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