When we tell people we plan events as part of our agency services, we often see starry eyes and giddy faces. But for those who are event professionals, the response is usually “Bless your heart,” because they know just how much hard work and planning go into making an event successful.
While JJPR has been honored to work on events that have involved famous chefs, movie stars and award-winning entertainers, the reality is that all events aren’t glamorous and everything doesn’t always go as planned.
The Murphy’s Law adage, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong,” certainly applies to event planning. That’s why we have put together a list of five things to consider when planning your next event, along with our just-released Event Planning Workbook to help break down your next event and ensure it’s a success.
1. Have a plan.
With events, failing to plan ensures a plan to fail.
So often, the biggest downfall when planning an event is the tendency to rush to thinking about the theme and décor, while overlooking the more important details like the purpose and goals.
Our team starts with a simple event management framework, found in our downloadable e-book, that helps lay out the answers to these and many other important aspects in order to ensure the event achieves objectives and maximizes our client’s return on investment.
This framework helps think through every detail of the event including:
- Approvals and Permits
- Number of participants
- Event team (volunteers or paid staff)
2. Make promotion a priority.
Marketing and publicizing your event is a critical component that shouldn’t be an afterthought.
When marketing an event, you want to make sure that you are thinking about all the details. Following are three essentials proven for a successful public relations and marketing plan for your event:
- Set SMART goals for your event. Consider ROI from the beginning and measure after the event. When developing goals for the event, ensure they are:
One of our clients, Children’s of Alabama, hosts a variety of events that we help coordinate, such as the Reel Hope Classic fishing tournament and the Tee Off Fore a Cure golf tournament. We help set goals for these types of events, planning out how to incorporate social media, collateral materials, copywriting, media relations and event marketing tactics to achieve those goals. Check out examples of materials we developed for past Children’s events here.
- Be creative.
For an event to be special, you often have to think out of the box on creative ways to transform your event, especially when working on a limited budget.
One of the most exciting and fun parts of event planning is the creative development. However, creating a theme for your event may sound easy, but done right, it’s no small task.
Our team collaborates on Pinterest, pinning ideas to event boards for inspiration to help set the tone for the event.
Here are a few examples of the creative angles we’ve taken for past events like the “Yellow Day” movie premiere, Seafood, Science & Celebrity and Sunday Supper Gulf Coast.
"Yellow Day" movie premiere
Seafood, Science and Celebrity
Sunday Supper Gulf Coast
- Use multiple touchpoints.
A marketing approach that uses multiple channels for promotion is an effective way to spread the word about your event. To be successful, events need to be promoted across multiple channels to create a cohesive marketing approach.
First, determine the audience you will be targeting for your event and their communication preferences. Once you have determined which touchpoints resonate most with your audience, plan your promotional strategy to generate the highest amount of attendees. By communicating with your audience early and often leading up to your event, you will create top-of-mind awareness for your attendees, resulting in an optimal turnout for your event.
One of the best ways to grab attention and drive attendance, especially from the media, is with a creative media kit. Check out some of our past successful ideas, such as this nautical-themed Children’s Cup Regatta media kit.
3. Stay on budget and on task.
One of the first things we ask clients is what is the budget for their event.
No matter how big or small the budget, developing a comprehensive budget and corresponding tactics is critical for success to ensure you plan financially and mentally for every detail of your event.
A misconception about events is that you have to have a huge budget to have an amazing event. We have planned many great events on a shoestring budget, due to careful planning of finances where items yield the most return on investment.
Our workbook includes a sample budget and task list template to help you:
- Work through every detail of the budget, by category
- Assign areas of responsibility
- List tasks within each area in the budget
- List due dates
- Note budget to actuals
- Track status of all details and any comments
4. Manage logistics and the team.
As an event planner, you are responsible for managing logistics including everything from vendors to volunteers to VIPs.
Planning for activities that will happen on event day is imperative, and the small details are the ones that will catch you by surprise. We utilize a number of tools to ensure all event activities our team or vendors are responsible for are planned down to the minute. A couple of these tools include a Load-In/Load-Out Schedule and a Run of Play.
The Load-In/Load-Out Schedule is essential for ensuring vendors, volunteers, and sponsors arrive and that load-in items for the event are on time and in order, as well as to make sure that break down when the event is over runs smoothly.
In addition, preparing a Run of Play is important to ensure the event stays on time and that those involved, whether speakers, entertainers or others, are cued to help the event run smoothly.
Our event planning e-book provides templates for both the Load-in/Load-out schedule and a Run of Play.
5. Measure your event’s success.
Selling tickets and drawing a big crowd are certainly good measurements for evaluating the success of your event, though attendance is just one of many barometers. In fact, there are a lot of post-event questions you should be asking. What was the response from attendees—positive or negative? What type of media coverage did the event generate? Did the event cause sales growth?
You should have multiple evaluation methods in mind well before the event’s planning phase even begins. Look back at your objectives and see whether your stated goals were met.
Now that you know some of our trade secrets for successful event planning, up the ante on your event planning even more and download our free Event Planning Workbook here.