When people hear red carpet, their minds default to celebrities, status, prestige, and a lot of pomp and circumstance. It’s true. Hollywood’s biggest nights — The Oscars or The Emmys — are the perfect examples.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a red carpet as "put down for an important person or a famous person when they go on an official visit or attend a special event.” Of course, that is also true. But hidden under all the glitz and glam of high-end fashion and big-name faces, there’s a fast-paced, highly-detailed world behind the scenes doing everything they can to make the night memorable.
From creating the guest list and collecting RSVPs to getting every aspect of the event together, a ton of work goes into the process, and you can’t miss a step if you want all the right exposure in all the right places. Whether it’s for a TV premiere, charity event, awards show, or product launch, a red carpet production is an intensive endeavor that requires attention to every last detail.
Hiring the best people, asking the right questions, and having the strongest connections will make the difference between a successful red carpet and missing out on the spotlight.
Here’s everything you need to consider when creating a memorable red-carpet event that’s a success.
Creating the Atmosphere
Selecting a Venue
Determine where the event will take place. Think about the type of event you’re throwing and the goals you have for it. These factors will help you choose a site that allows you to ‘set the scene’ to meet those objectives and create the atmosphere and energy you want. Consider the surrounding. Are there hotels close by for out-of-town attendees? Are there parking options?
Staging the Red Carpet Area
As you’re looking at the venues, think about where the red carpet will be and the size of the space. Make sure there’ll be enough room for the number of guests and press personnel you invite. A cramped or unfit red carpet area is doable if that is all you have to work with, but it is a recipe for chaos.
There are certain assets you’ll need as well. The red carpet itself. How long should it be? A “step and repeat” — or the backdrop of client logos that goes behind the guests. Proper lighting should be arranged behind the press, so guests are properly lit during photos. When they look their best, they’re much more likely to share their photos on their social media platforms.
You’ll also need to line your red carpet with stanchions to separate the press from your guests. Make sure to match them to the length of the carpet, so there’s a clear barrier representing exclusivity.
Establishing a Photo Room
If you’re hosting an awards show, have a separate photo room for interviewing the award recipients. This way, they can answer Q&As uninterrupted so none of their quotes are misheard, and they’re not distracted during the interview. Having a private area gives interviewees time to express themselves, allowing the press to share more meaningful and effective conservations in post-event coverage.
Setting the Mood
Think outside the box when creating a look and feel for your red carpet space. The goal is to leave a lasting impression on your guests — and for many people of note, they’ve done this a hundred times. Think about ways to stand out and catch eyes. At SMITHHOUSE, we always try to determine at least one unforgettable element to incorporate into the space that will set the event apart from all the rest.
Plan for music as well. Do you want to hire a big band, a DJ, or have everything pre-recorded? Music is essential in creating the specific ambiance you want and making guests excited to be there.
Sending & Confirming Invitations
The talent who walks the carpet is why your event will be memorable and have the press excited to cover. Consider who is appropriate and valuable to invite. Also, sending them enough advance notice and a compelling invite are crucial to having who you want there on the big night
Include a dress code, so there aren’t any style faux pas or unsightly surprises. This doesn’t always mean black tie. Depending on the event, it could be an opportunity to think differently and give guests a chance to express their creativity or uniquely market themselves. In many cases, distinctive aspects like this can be more enticing for guests to attend.
Make your invitation stand out by putting something special inside to ensure you’ve got their attention. A unique small gift can go a long way! Once they’re sent, follow up with RSVPs so you have a clear understanding of who will show up to minimize surprises.
Press is vital to a successful red carpet — exposure is what it’s all about! Media relations need thoughtful consideration to get the best coverage with the right message. Make a list of electronic, digital, and print outlets along with photographers that are most relevant and advantageous to your event. Entertainment outlets can be invited too, if applicable, like if you’re hosting an awards show. Whoever can help your event get meaningful traction amongst the right audience — get them on the list! This is where having an experienced PR team on your side with strong press connections can make all the difference.
Before the event, you’ll need a media alert press release to share important info about the night. Make sure it outlines what the event’s about and shares notable attendees to create interest. This media alert will be your press invitation, and these should be sent out promptly so you can have a better chance at higher attendance and have time to collect their RSVPs.
Equipping the Press
The goal of the red carpet is to get all the right shots and quotes to ensure the best exposure in the following weeks. And the more prepared your press is, the more likely that will happen. You’ll want to create informational guides to make Red Carpet interviews as convenient as possible for everyone.
Prepare a “face sheet” for press members with thumbnail pictures and names, so they know who will be walking the red carpet and when. You’ll also want a “shot list” for your house photographers with the same information, so they know what talent, VIPs, and others need to be photographed.
Next, create placards that identify press outlets and mark where they’ll stand. This is not only vital for organization but also necessary to help your guests know who they’re talking to facilitate more effortless conversations. Along those lines, having some talking points drawn up for your guests can be helpful for them as well and will keep the focus on the messages you’re hoping to get out there.
A red carpet “captain” should be positioned at the start of the carpet to greet talent as they arrive and announce them to the waiting press. They can also help escort talent and executives down the carpet, so the talent isn’t stuck waiting in line and set up brief interviews with the digital, print, and electronic press.
After your red carpet event has gone off without a hitch, it’s time to handle post-coverage. The goal is to be the primary publicist that establishes the message people will remember. A PR firm can manage the review of all photos and make edits to remove any unsightly or distracting elements or offer touch-ups as needed. They can also help you write up a post-event press release along with links to photos and videos to help the press create their story.
How SMITHHOUSE PR Can Help
Throwing a successful red carpet can be challenging to handle on top of running a business or promoting a new production — so we’re here to help! Trying to do it all isn’t getting you the results you want. Trusting our experts to polish every detail is.
When it comes to PR, boutique is better! Here at SMITHHOUSE, we cater to all your red carpet needs with specialized attention. Your attendees deserve to be treated with a personal touch, so they’ll be more likely to attend your events. Our attentiveness extends to guests, providing them with an experience that feels elegantly customized.
Whether you’re hosting an Awards event, a charity event as a non-profit, or a television premiere for the entertainment industry, SMITHHOUSE got you covered. With locations in LA, New York, and Miami, our entertainment PR agency has experienced red carpet specialists and event planners who understand your big night’s intricacies and will work with you to ensure no detail is missed. And with extensive experience in nonprofit public relations, we can help make your charitable event as meaningful and memorable as your cause. We also offer media training and online reputation management services to help you make every aspect of your event successful. Contact us today to learn more.