September 9, 2018 |

Launch events are frenetic and loud and go by in a flash. But what the majority of people do not see is the tremendous amount of actual blood, sweat and tears which goes into bringing everything together at the last moment. God forbid it rains.

This summer, the Engine Yard at Belvoir Castle was officially opened, with the Duchess of Rutland, Liz Hurley and Suzannah Constantine cutting the ribbon in front of a 1,000-strong crowd. A retail destination to rival all rural shopping retreats, the Engine Yard boasts a spa, garden centre, chocolatier, restaurant and even a wellness wagon.

It was a big dream from the powerhouse that is the Duchess of Rutland, a £2.5 million renovation project nestled in the shadows of Belvoir Castle. It’s absolutely beautiful and it should certainly be on any Christmas shopping destination list.

But none of that would matter without the punters.

Footfall is a Tank specialism, and when the seeds of this idea were planted as early as 2017, we were inspired to support.

It has meant six months of carefully staggered press outreach to whet the appetite of retail-hungry visitors who lived as far away as Manchester and London. Announcing each store one by one, coordinating national press interviews with the Duchess to pique interest from affluent prospective spenders, and organising fashion and beauty editor reviews post-opening – consumer launch campaigns are full on but incredibly rewarding.

Our prize? A glorious Sunday afternoon in the sunshine, welcoming thousands of shoppers and scores of press along to cover the official opening. All to rapturous applause and positive affirmation that the Engine Yard is as good as we said it would be.

Common anxieties felt by any PR professional in the run up to an event might include awkward journalist questions, late VIPs or running out of booze. But a unique event launch brings with it unique challenges.

As such, my advice is to expect the unexpected. Be prepared to get stuck in. Share the success and remember an agency and client should be a team; you might find yourself doing more than originally agreed but a partnership cannot work if it is fractured.

Finally, don’t forget the aftermath. A venue might be open, but visitor numbers are not guaranteed and in my experience, it’s just as important to keep singing loudly, long after the golden scissors are packed away.