Recently, I glued various gems to leather belt in the back of a Jeep. No, that is not a strange metaphor. The aforementioned belt was for a client event, and we were short on time, so it had to be done in said Jeep. The belt ended up being a huge winner with the client. (I was so proud.) But as we developed the event timeline and managed all of the other moving parts in the weeks prior, I did not think I’d find myself bedazzling anything – especially in a car.
Event execution is one of the many duties that fill up the plate of a PR professional. And, if done correctly, an event can make a significant impact on brand visibility and advocacy.
But it takes more than an organized individual with strong communication skills to smoothly execute an event. You need to be creative, quick-thinking and adaptable. In essence, a successful event planner is scrappy; Between media relations, vendor coordination, media material development, spokesperson management and client satisfaction, there are various opportunities for things to go awry.
In addition to being an expert at activating brands through events, I have become a specialist of expecting the unexpected. Through my experiences planning and managing events, I have learned a few things along the way.
Media Opts Out
The day of the event, your RSVP list is stacked. This means it is safe to assume each of those “yes’” will show up, right? Wrong. Reporters, producers and bloggers have busy schedules, and it is not uncommon for a fire drill to arise at any given moment. Always ensure you have a media list with you on-site, and make a round of calls for those who may not have confirmed.
Also, do not underestimate the power of post-event outreach. The event is a news hook for media — and if they cannot make it, you are provided the perfect opportunity to follow-up and share additional information.
A Blasé Crowd
If the event is open to the public, it is crucial to ensure they are captivated. It is always a nice idea to have premium items to give away, such as T-shirts or engagement pieces like noisemakers (depending upon the venue and event goals, of course). If these types of items are not a part of the picture, it is up to you to amp up the crowd with…yourself. Be friendly. Be charming. Be engaging. The key is to leave a pleasant impression of the brand upon the consumer. Spokespeople are often leveraged among brands, and if the event features this type of figure, utilize them to make a connection with the brand, as well.
You order a stand for your banner. It never shows up. What do you do? Ideally, all signage and event supplies are accounted for prior to the event. But with quick turnarounds and shipping delays, sometimes, you are left without crucial pieces for your event. This is where you need to be two things: creative and calm. Take a step back from the situation and choose an alternative. No banner stand? Hang the banner on a wall via some heavy-duty tape (or nails, if the venue is kind enough to let you do so). Sidenote: This is where I have to emphasize that you must ALWAYS have a supply kit on-site!
Staying cool under what might be an incredibly stressful situation not only helps you think clearly, but it also ensures everyone around you (possibly, clients included) that you that you are professional and can handle anything.
Some things may seem out of your control, but in the end, the way you choose to handle them is the real test. Thinking ahead, remaining positive and tapping into your creative side helps make dealing with surprises a little less disappointing — and the event an even bigger success.