Too often campus planners go to the hard work of attracting a great speaker or planning a public event and then miss the branding opportunity that comes with it. Working with the Life Sciences and Management Program at the University of Pennsylvania, Kelsh Wilson showed how to use event communications to project quality and professionalism—as well as draw audiences.
Life Sciences and Management at the University of Pennsylvania is an innovative program drawing on the strengths of the Wharton School and the College of Arts & Sciences, and each year it sponsors a marquee lecture featuring top figures in fields ranging from bioethics and biotechnology to medical research and pharma.
This annual highlight presents two communications goals: to shine a bright spotlight on the event and its featured speaker, and to use the opportunity to raise the public profile of the Life Science and Management program.
Kelsh Wilson has partnered with Penn for years on this project, and learned some key lessons along the way.
The first is to think of the event as the chance for mini-branding project. The event invitation, program and folder, plus related digital communications should also share an instantly recognizable look. This approach boosts open rates for communications, projects a sense of coordination and professionalism, and helps create the feel of a multidimensional experience—much more than a speaker in the front of a room.
Second, it’s key to find a path to visual impact. Your event might be round-table on political issues, a debate on the topic of inclusion or, in Penn’s case, a talk about communicating science to the public or developing a new drug. These topics, though diverse, share something in common: none are photogenic. That means turning to other tools in the graphic kit—from bold uses of color to creative typography. In the case of LSM, Kelsh Wilson’s design team has developed conceptual illustrations exploring each speaker’s theme in order to add interest and impact.
The final lesson is simply to plan ahead. Too often event invites and programs are dull because event deadlines sneak up on creative teams. Assess all the pieces it will take to make an effective promotional program and get them started well in advance!