We got a call over the weekend from a PR Newbie that did an event that wasn’t successful. So we found this post just for you!
This post can orginally be seen http://theblacksheepagency.com/blog
Event planning isn’t EXACTLY rocket science. That is, astronauts, combustibles and powdered Tang are not usually required for execution. But, successful events do involve the careful engineering of moving parts, many uncontrolled variables, specially crafted food and beverages… and a whole lot more behind-the-scenes action than the average attendee might recognize (if it’s done correctly).
Over many years, successes and failures, we’ve collected quite a few tips on how to deal with the ups and downs of event planning, and after our most recent client event (yep, we planned the official Twitter party at SxSW!), we couldn’t resist sharing. And now, prepare for launch.
4. Murphy’s Law is the law. You know the old adage – if it can go wrong, it will. And trust us, it will. If you don’t get a tent, it will rain. Vendors will go missing. Guests will show up early – or late. The WiFi at an Interactive SxSW event will collapse. The best thing you can do to offset these disasters is to be prepared – agenda style. We recommend running through the itinerary with your entire team in the form of an old school list of where/when/why/how. Imagine yourself as a wedding planner. The bride (the client) is on edge, it is her special day and if one thing goes wrong she will probably decapitate the closest person. We find this is good motivation for creating contingency plans for every possible scenario. Two, three or ten heads are always better than one, and you’ll be able to avoid total panic when the inevitable bump comes your way.
Picking the right venue is important. We found a laid back, well stocked bar on Rainey Street.
3. Adapt to your environment. You can prepare as much as possible, but on the day of the event, certain elements will not go according to plan. Go look, feel and see! Touch things, test them, and go into the space as if you were going to buy it as a new home. Spaces may be smaller, weather may be surprisingly hot/cold and what you thought would be the perfect combination of details just won’t work. To this end, we say don’t try and reinvent the concept or the venue, instead use what you’ve got. Re-evaluate the person or thing that is giving you a headache and either discard or reutilize. During our SxSW event, which was held in a partly outdoor space, we expected to give people blankets to spread on the grass. The yard was too crowded and the weather was unexpectedly cold, so we passed them out for warmth instead. In fact, the client said several times that it was her “favorite part of the day.”
As people listened to panels, they drank mimosas and snuggled under blankets.
2. Be nice to vendors. Although you may feel rage in your heart, avoid stink eye and give them some sugar. It’s likely that during the course of your coordination, you’ll face a difficult vendor. While it’s important to stand your ground, maintaining composure and friendly conversation is absolutely necessary. During the event, make sure they are comfortable and satisfied – you never know when you’ll need them again, and building relationships can save you time, money and frustration later on.
Others gathered indoors to have smaller discussions.
1. Don’t be a copycat. Use your brain. You have got a big one and people want to see what you can do with it. Avoid the sad sit-down dinner with the auction at the end and investigate how to make it different. Regenerate your event with a twist on transportation, food options or photography. Explore interactive activities that get people moving. People tend to think all events of a certain type have to look and feel the same. When guests are pushed outside of their comfort zones (just a little), they’ll feel energized and excited. Don’t rely on the party-planners before you to set the tone for today. Blast off! Are you tired of this rocket motif yet?
Whether it’s a conference for hundreds of people or an intimate cocktail party, events are the best way to show what you’re made of in front of large group of jovial people who, for the most part, are ready to party! Be flexible, have a good time and stay grounded. Event planning is stressful, and a calm composure is essential. After all, it’s not brain surgery…