By Amira Hashish
My creative studio Rapport thrives on working with global design, home, lifestyle and travel brands to shape their narrative through compelling stories and experiences. We work with everyone from Soho Home to SUITCASE Magazine to bring their stories to life. Event production and hosting is at the heart of our process. My background in journalism means I approach the production of an event rather similarly to working on an editorial piece. I encourage clients and collaborators to think of their events as key storytelling opportunities. They provide an opportunity to convey who you are to your audience in an engaging way. From the tablescape to the guestlist, here are some tips for creating a very special occasion that will live on beyond the big night.
Identify The Story
I always like to start by sitting down with a brand and identifying what story they are hoping to convey through an event. Think about how you would like your guests to feel and what key messages you want them to take away from the experience. Also consider the demographic of your audience and what they enjoy. This applies to those who attend the event as well as everyone who is going to be consuming the content that comes out of it. The brand message should be woven in subtly through the narrative of the occasion. Forcing your agenda or logo is a definite no-go but creating a moment that feels truly exciting and special will naturally result in people spreading the word and create a synergy between you, the experience and those who are part of it.
Choose a Venue That Gels
If your brand or business was a space, what kind of aesthetic and ambience would it have? The moment guests arrive at your event it should feel as if they are stepping into your home base. The style and personality should be reflective of your story. Consider every detail down to the scent. For an event Rapport hosted with Diptyque, guests were taken on a scent profiling journey. The evening was split between three rooms and for different spaces and segments of the event – from the cocktail reception to a talk and a sit down dinner – there was an accompanying room scent. Lighting will also play a big role in conjuring the atmosphere. Consider whether the venue allows for the mood to change throughout and whether there is the opportunity for natural light or candlelight.
Decide on Format & Flow
Consider whether the event will comprise varying stages. For example a talk, drinks reception and sit down dinner. Or whether you would like to keep things casual with standing-style canapés and chat. At Rapport we are particular fans of intimate suppers with a fun group of guests who enjoy sharing stories and getting to know one another. We like adding layers to the evening too.
Soho House asked Rapport to arrange an event celebrating incredible women for International Women’s Day. We paired up fashion designer Stine Goya and UK MD of Diptyque Amanda Morgan. I spoke to them about the art of running super successful businesses in front of other inspiring women. We kept it cosy and comfortable with guests seated on vintage armchairs at the private events space in High Road House, Chiswick. Then it moved into a cocktail session in a neighbouring room before we revealed the candlelit supper table. The flow felt relaxed and gave everyone who attended the chance to warm up and connect with each other. Think about breaking tradition. Go beyond a welcome speech to immerse guests with your brand message in a way that feels engaging and relevant. Browse the IWD event here.
Curate The Invites & Guestlist
This comes back to your audience and your story. Gather a group of people who will have common interests and who are likely to have a fun time at your event. If you are hopeful that they will spread the word about your brand to their friends and followers think about who is likely to be interested in their experiences and whether there is a synergy between your audiences. Go for a quality over quantity approach. Inviting someone because they have a huge social media base isn’t necessarily effective. A true tastemaker whose small following is super engaged can be powerful for broadening out your message to the right circles.
At Rapport we always personally invite guests who are friends of our creative studio. A generic ‘save the date’ invite is not our style. We tailor-make thoughtfully designed invites with an enclosed note about what the guest can expect from the event and why we would love them to attend. The seating plan is also super important and it should never be about status. ‘What do you care about?’ is a way more important question than ‘what do you do?’. We spend a long time figuring out who will enjoy each other’s company most. Ultimately we really want people to have a fabulous time. Seeing those moments of connection come to life is particularly thrilling.
Create a Thoughtful Tablescape
The right tablescape will give your event the wow factor and create a statement opportunity for capturing content. The big piece of advice here would be to factor in all the little details that will give the design as much substance as style. Weave in thoughtful touches that bring your story to life.
At a Rapport event for Visit California and SUITCASE Magazine we were working with a theme of ‘California Creativity and Diversity,’ celebrating the destination and its commitment to hospitality. We hosted the event at the newly opened Short Stories Hotel in West Hollywood and every inch of the table was created to subtly nod to the theme. We sourced napkins made from vintage clothing fabric in a local flea market and hunted down matchbooks from old California restaurants that were the epitome of chic in their heyday. We collaborated with florist Christina Pack of Wild at Heart to line the table with beautiful blooms that tie in with the scheme. Guests were also greeted with our signature Rapport candles and bespoke notes on their table setting. It sparked discussion amongst people as well as working wonderfully for photos. Browse the California event here.
Capture Quality Content
The event should live on long after it takes place. It can provide a great point of reference for your brand and help tell its story in circles that extend far beyond the one that comes together at the occasion. Hiring a really strong photographer and a videographer is super important. Ask to see examples of events they have shot before. The best photographers and videographers will be as skilled at capturing the table as they are those little moments between guests that convey the atmosphere. At Rapport we have a pool of picture and video collaborators who we know and trust. Commission a strong set of imagery and a social media reel that you can share with your audience.
Pick The Right Partners
Whether you are keen to enlist a drinks sponsor or considering gifting at your event, make sure that the partners you work with align with your brand. Again, there is an opportunity to reach new audiences via collaboration but this will only prove fruitful if there is a synergy between the people you are keen to reach. When Rapport hosted a dinner in celebration of Chelsea Flower Show for Babylonstoren wine at The Kensington Hotel we brought together a collective of brands from our network who could relate to each other’s stories. Browse the event here.
To enquire more about Rapport’s events services contact email@example.com. Visit www.clubrapport.com for details.