Before joining the Bradford Group, I worked in media relations at a public relations firm that focused almost entirely on pitching and generating news hits. While I still do that every day, our Bradford Group clients demand a lot more than just news hits. One thing I’m doing a lot of lately? Event planning.
From handling every small detail for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars to marketing a technology conference (shout out to Southland), events have taken over my professional life. I’m also currently planning my wedding, so I’m really all about events these days.
The main thing I’ve learned is that when it comes to event planning, there are always going to be more moving parts than expected. Think it’s as simple as choosing a venue and the menu? Think again. That’s why it’s important to stay organized. Here are my tips for successful event planning.
Create a plan.
Venues often provide Banquet Event Orders (BEOs) to clients for their events, but you are going to need a plan long before the venue hands that to you. A good event plan includes logistics (transportation, venue, food, presentations, etc.), marketing (invitations, social media, word-of-mouth) and budget. I also add a timeline to the end of each plan with deadlines for each part of the process. This keeps you on track throughout the process.
Narrow your options.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from wedding planning, it is that there are tons of options for every small piece of your wedding. Want a wedding cake? Great. There are 20-plus local bakeries you can try. Invitations? You have dozens of options at online retailers, Etsy and local artisans. I’ve set a rule for myself. I never consider more than three options for any one thing. That helps one stand out. This applies to all kinds of events in the corporate world as well.
Know your audience.
To get people to attend your event, you have to get the word out to the right audience. Once you know your goals, you can best decide how to reach them. Depending on the event, advertising and earned media hits combined with social media may be enough. Other events may require some direct email campaigns or a call-to-action button on your homepage. If your event is exclusive, you may choose to have your sales team invite people individually via phone or email.
Events matter, and they require extra time and care. Your public relations team is immersed in your message and knows exactly how you want to position your company to the public. That means they can plan events that accurately represent your company, and they know how to reach the people that you want to be there.