Conducting Special Events in Malls

Article excerpt

Shopping malls offer public relations practitioners high-visibility venues to promote clients and generate positive publicity. Mails are not the place for every event, but when there is a win-win union between mall and sponsor marketing goals, the results can be spectacular.

The key to conducting shopping mall events is understanding how to maximize the opportunities malls offer, what works in malls and what doesn't, how malls operate, what kind of events they welcome and those they shun.

There are more than 30,000 shopping malls in the United States and Canada. They include regional malls, strip centers, convenience centers, downtown retad districts, discount centers, multiuse properties and other properties. The major trade association is the International Council of Shopping Centers, located in New York.

Malls allow a variety of activities. Public relations firms can use malls to premiere, demonstrate, give out samples and conduct product tests, gather research, stage events, schedule celebrity and spokesperson appearances, sponsor seminars, hold contests and sporting events, raise money for charities, stage press conferences and more.

It's important to note that within each city, each mall offers a unique consumer profile and market position.

Examples of malls with large, identifiable target groups: very-high-income shoppers at Biltmore Fashion Park, Phoenix, and South Coast Plaza, Orange County, California; fashionoriented black consumers at Fox Hills Mall, Los Angeles, and Greenbriar Mall, Atlanta; daytime career audience at Georgetown Park, Washington, D.C. and South Street Seaport in Manhattan; upscale family market at Cherry Hill Mall, Philadelphia, and Woodfield, Chicago. Some of these malls and others, like North County Fair in San Diego County and Altamonte Sprin in Orlando, deliver it all-a widely diverse market base that provides good locations for a variety of promotions.

Benefits of malls

Malls are good promotion venues because they offer:

* dired access to customers. An average of 200,000 people per week visit a regional mall, most of them on Friday through Sunday. Mall traffic increases significantly during peak retail periods such as Christmas, when often, more than half a million people pack a mall each week. A mall grand opening or reopening also delivers huge crowds. Such openings provide your product an opportunity to be, for example, the "Official Grand Opening Champagne," or "Grand Opening Credit Card." Malls support grand openings with advertising in excess of a normal annual budget.

* target audiences. Audiences are judged using mall shopper demographics, not the demographics of a five- or 10-mile resident radius. For example, a downtown shopping center may be located in a low income area, but attract members of a higher income shopping population who work in the city.

* free Promotion sites. Most malls have large central court areas, some with two- and three-story balconies, to stage events for thousands of viewers. The beautiful center courts are attractive settings to promote products and schedule press interviews.

*promotion supply assistance. Most large malls own staging, skirting, chairs, tables and sound equipment. However, the stage may not be large or strong enough to present a major touring show, the skirting color may clash with the promotion display, and most mall sound equipment is not adequate for musical performances. These items should be checked prior to an event.

* advertising support. The promotion reach can be expanded by mall-paid

advertising. During a key retail period, the mall advertising support increases. For example, a Levi's Olympics Style mall tour offered malls a free back-to-school fashion event. The media needed a back-to-school feature, so Levi's gained substantial coverage, as weU as being featured during the key retail period. …