This past winter, I was fortunate enough to participate in a study abroad program to Australia and New Zealand with the Department of Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional Management. I was able to justify participating in a program outside of my major because of the opportunity to take a course in something that the communication major doesn’t offer and is also a pivotal part of the public relations industry: event planning.
Most people (myself included) typically think of event planning as glamorous, but the reality is the public relations professionals involved in event planning work tirelessly behind the scenes to make these glamorous and successful events possible. With that comes a lot of strategic planning.
There are a ton of components that go into planning a successful event. Some of the many aspects that need to be considered are food & beverage, audiovisuals, signage, transportation, entertainment, decorations, venue, budget, registration, promotion, room set-up, etc.
Before any of the details get sorted out, however, make sure that you complete a needs assessment by answering to following questions:
- WHO are your target audiences and stakeholders?
- WHAT do they want?
- WHERE is this going to occur?
- WHEN is this going to happen?
- WHY is this important?
Next you need to develop a strategy and plan. Doing more work upfront will help ensure that the event itself runs smoothly. Make sure you are promoting it on social media channels, blogs and websites. In addition send out media releases and pitches, create a media kit and reach out to the media or any other influencer to see if they are willing to come and cover the event. No matter what you end up doing, make sure that everything comes back to whatever goal you and your team set during the initial planning process.
Once the day of the event arrives, your job is to make sure everything runs smoothly and your guests and clients can enjoy the event that you helped create with them. Your clients and guests alike will depend on you to make sure that all of the behind-the-scenes work is being done seamlessly.
When it’s over, show your client the success of the event and the benefits it brought them – such as social media impressions, press placements, donations/revenue, increased exposure, etc.
Though the technical components of event planning are obviously important, the most important skill an event planner can have is the ability to work well with people. Holding events is a really great way to relay a message to your target market because it gives you the chance to engage with them face-to-face. In order for that to be successful, your clients will depend on you to know how to talk to them strategically. It’s really simple to teach someone the ins and outs of event planning, but what will set you apart in the event planning industry are good interpersonal communication skills.
Contribution By: Victoria Dellacava
Victoria is a New York-native junior interpersonal communication major with minors in public policy, leadership and advertising. She serves on the PRSSA-UD executive board as vice president of professional development, head of PRSSA-UD’s Outreach Committee and social media editor at The Review. To connect with her, follow her on twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn or meet her for coffee at Brew HaHa! (chances are she’s there right now).