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Event Planning Best Practices: Top 5 Things Every Event Planner Should Keep in Mind

Posted by Taylor Lewis on Oct 19, 2016 12:00:00 PM

The holidays are right around the corner, and according to the Seattle Times, if this year is anything like last, 80 percent of companies nationwide will be hosting holiday parties. If you're in charge of planning your company's party, there's a lot to think about.

Whether you’re a seasoned planner or new to the “glamorous” world of events, remembering these five event planning best practices will help your next event leave a lasting impression. 


1. Make your budget work.

Working within a tight budget is one of the many difficult tasks in event planning, but it doesn’t have to hold you back. Get creative—see where you can make cuts in order to devote more resources to signature aspects of your event. It’s crucial to stick to the original budget throughout the planning process, but the best events aren’t necessarily the most expensive. Focus on what will have the most impact.

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2. Keep your focus.

Concentrate your attention on the major goals behind the event, and be sure that each of your planning decisions will help achieve those goals. Whether it’s a non-profit event fundraiser or a corporate holiday party, remembering the overall purpose of the event will help you focus your attention appropriately. 



3. Delegate, delegate, delegate.

Don’t be afraid to delegate and divvy up the responsibility—one person can’t do it all. Try to assign team members with tasks that play into their unique skills or background knowledge. You as the team leader can then focus on the big-picture goals of the event, rather than stressing about mailing invitations or hanging signage. Meeting prior to the event can help make sure everyone is on the same page with what needs to be completed and the urgency of each task at hand.



4. Preparation is key.

It’s always best to over-prepare than underprepare. You don’t want to have to worry the night of the event when you run out of the hors d’oeuvres within the first half hour or don’t have enough seats for all your guests. Always plan for more than is expected for food, seating, and gifts, and make sure you stay organized with to-do lists, vendor contracts and volunteer management. 



5. Keep your branding consistent.

Remember that everything from the initial social media graphic or poster down to the signs at the event should all have consistent branding. Invitations, table settings, and even labels—the branding should be clear to each guest throughout the entire process. Cohesive branding will build recognition for your guests and will help you market your event now and in subsequent years. 

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It can be easy for event planning rookies and gurus alike to get overwhelmed during the planning process, but following these five best practices will help you execute successful, memorable events (and avoid headaches getting there).

Learn more about how you can maximize your next event’s success in our free Event Planning Workbook.


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Topics: event promotion, event planning, eventPR

Automating Processes for Seamless Events

Posted by Jennifer Jenkins on Sep 21, 2016 12:30:00 PM

From setting the date and picking the perfect venue to selecting décor and promoting your event, there’s a lot to think about during the event planning process. As you generate interest for your event, it’s important not to forget the people who’ll make it all come to life—your volunteers and guests. How will you manage your volunteers and ensure each knows how, when and where they’ll be needed? Will your guests be able to find event details and register easily? Luckily, there’s a myriad of programs and strategies you can utilize to help make both volunteer management and event registration seamless and efficient.



Volunteer Management

Volunteers are as essential as sponsors and paid staff to making your event a success. By donating their time, they are able to execute the logistics and behind-the-scenes needs so your event can run smoothly and reach its goals. Show your appreciation by making the experience as easy as possible. Some useful volunteer management tools we’ve utilized in the past are volunteer assessments and pre-event volunteer training.

A volunteer assessment helps identify event needs and organize volunteer capabilities, assigning roles and responsibilities and listing relevant information like the date, time and location where each volunteer is needed. In addition, it should also detail where and when volunteers may be needed for relevant training, if applicable. Of course, you can organize this yourself in an Excel sheet and by keeping in close contact with your volunteers, but as events get larger, it’s often easier to use an online program like SignUpGenius or With basic, free packages and more comprehensive monthly or yearly plans, these platforms offer a variety of services including shift signups, administrator management tools, calendar syncing, email reports, reminder notifications and volunteer hour reports. Other online programs like Samaritan Technologies, InitLive, and Better Impact, offer services catering to recruitment, mobile, real-time communication and even nonprofit-specific needs.


Event Registration

Now that you’ve planned your event down to the last detail and organized your staff, how will you get your guests there? Event registration can be done in a variety of ways, but as with volunteer management, online systems can make the process smoother and more efficient for all parties involved. Popular online tools like Eventbrite allow you to create event web pages, send invitations and emails, track registration progress and even scan tickets. Guests will also appreciate the ability to pay for tickets online through their credit card or PayPal account. Check out these other popular online event registration tools: Constant Contact EventSpot, RegOnline and Brown Paper Tickets.


Learn more about planning successful, seamless events by downloading our free Event Planning Workbook. 

Happy planning!

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Topics: event promotion, event planning, eventPR, events

All the buzz: August 2016

Posted by Alison Mehrman on Aug 31, 2016 2:16:15 PM

Somehow, summer is already coming to a close. It seems as if back-to-school campaigns and pumpkin spice latte advertisements have been popping up everywhere the past few weeks (even in Alabama, where sipping on a PSL in 90 degree weather just doesn’t seem quite right). But even though summer is winding down, business has been ramping up. Client events, new work and personal milestones have kept us buzzing in and out of the office at lightening speed. Check out what we’ve been up to lately.



All of our event planning this summer culminated in one especially exciting weekend August 26-28. The second annual Reel Hope Classic fishing tournament kicked off with a Captain’s meeting and pre-party on Friday, August 26 before fishermen and junior anglers took to the seas on Saturday. The tournament raised more than $30,000 for pediatric cancer patients at Children’s of Alabama, and we were pleased to be part of this great event. And while our involvement was on the PR side, Taylor and I even got up the nerve to hold some prized fish on the podium.

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At the same time, JJPR also had a presence at Mobile’s first Startup Weekend event, which ran from Friday to Sunday. Powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, Startup Weekend is a business pitch competition and educational experience for entrepreneurs that is hosted all over the world. We were excited to get involved with this great event and will be providing 10 hours of pro-bono public relations and event management services to the winning team, Conference Cash.



From dragon boat races to nonprofit fundraisers and business pitch competitions, we’ve done a little bit of everything this summer. Check out our Event Planning Workbook to learn about some of our best practices and event planning strategies.  

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It’s safe to say we’ve been blessed to work with some fabulous clients, old and new. And new clients have been streaming in from a variety of sectors recently. While we can’t reveal too much just yet, we can say that we’ve been hard at work crafting new branding concepts and campaign ideas that we can’t wait to unveil!

In the meantime, one of our exciting recent projects for existing client Fuse Project has been the branding of the organization’s new nonprofit co-working space, Fuse Factory, slated to open in fall 2016. From naming the space and designing the logo to brainstorming ideas for the interior, we’ve had a lot of fun bringing Fuse Factory to life.




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Babies & Weddings & Shows, Oh My! 

Amidst all the excitement of event planning and new work, it’s also been a very special month for the team. Kelsey and her husband Andrew celebrated the birth of their first baby, Everett Grant, on August 1, and we were lucky to be among the first to meet their new bundle of joy when they got home. Welcome baby Everett!



Less than two weeks later, I flew up north for my wedding. I married my new husband, Tyler, on August 12 at Aldrich Mansion in Warwick, Rhode Island, and have been on cloud nine ever since! Our honeymoon to Italy has been postponed to the fall (hopefully!), but we enjoyed a “mini-moon” in New York the day after the wedding, where we got to see Wicked on Broadway and explore the city. The magic didn’t stop when I returned to work—the lovely ladies of JJPR decorated my desk and bought me beautiful flowers, and one of our amazing clients, Innovation PortAL, was also kind enough to bring flowers and a card. Thank you everyone!

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Speaking of marriage, both Jennifer and Leigh celebrated wedding anniversaries recently. Somehow, Jennifer’s been married over twice as long as Leigh, though both are as happy as newlyweds! Meanwhile, Sarah has been hard at work rehearsing for her next theater performance in Chickasaw Civic Theatre’s upcoming rendition of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Creative maven by day, theater star by night—we are always impressed with her talent!


Keep up with us in next month’s All the Buzz!


Topics: event planning, PR agency, JJPR agency, eventPR

It’s All in the Details: 4 Areas of Event Planning Where You Should Sweat the Small Stuff

Posted by Kelsey Davis on Jul 27, 2016 1:00:00 PM

With years of event planning under our belts and a summer chock-full of exciting client events, we’ve had planning top of mind lately. We’ve already dispelled a few common myths about event planning and lent some high-level advice on strategy and promotion, but the best event planners know that the details are just as important in crafting memorable, successful events.

We’d like to say, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” but the truth is that the smallest touches can make or break an event. Read on to learn more about four categories where details are key.



As an event planner, you’ll likely visit the venue at least a couple of times to map out where certain activities will be held or where decorations will go. Being so familiar with the venue, it’s sometimes easy to forget to put yourself in your guests’ shoes. Will they know which rooms they’re supposed to go to or which tables are theirs? Will they be able to easily find the restrooms?

At the 2014 Seafood, Science and Celebrity event, we even labeled which bottles of wine were paired to each course, so that employees and guests alike were guaranteed a seamless dining experience.

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With proper signage, you’ll ensure your guests feel right at home, making the event flow much more smoothly. Signage is also a great way to help brand the event—the more times your guests see your logo and messaging, the better!



In order to maximize media coverage and guest attendance, make sure you think through the details of your media outreach too. Triple-check your media lists and make sure the contacts you’re reaching out to are correct and up to date. Personalization is also key. Why do you want this specific reporter or outlet to cover your event? Why should they be interested? Think through their past work and use that to help craft the perfect pitch.

And don’t forget to stand out! A creative media kit or invitation with all the event details will stand out more than a generic digital invitation. Check out some of our favorite media kits for events we’ve done in the past below.

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Communicating with your team and event staff is just as important as communicating with the media and guests. It’s your job to ensure that all staff are knowledgeable about the timeline of the event and their exact roles and responsibilities. We suggest regular internal meetings leading up to the event to keep everyone on the same page. A run-of-play document (like the one in our Event Planning Workbook) that details the event timeline down to the minute and lists those in charge of each activity is also a useful tool.



Décor is one of the most fun parts of event planning, but it takes a lot of thought to get it just right. Different events call for different aesthetics, so before you start buying decorations and picking out table settings, think about the feel of your event—consider the venue, guests, goals, and of course, budget. Is the event a black-tie gala or a laid-back outdoor fundraiser? Once you get your aesthetic down, focus on consistency. Use your décor to help brand your event throughout the venue space and collateral materials. 

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There you have it—high-level strategy paired with an eye for detail will maximize the success of your next event. Stay tuned for our next blog, where our design maven Sarah will explain how to execute those details successfully when concepting your event designs and décor.  

In the meantime, learn more by downloading our free Event Planning Workbook

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Topics: event promotion, event planning, eventPR, events

5 Things to Consider When Planning Your Next Event

Posted by Jennifer Jenkins on Jun 29, 2016 3:26:36 PM

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:

  • Purpose
  • Activities
  • Audience
  • Approvals and Permits
  • Logistics
  • Number of participants
  • Event team (volunteers or paid staff)
  • Budget
  • Tasks
  • Vendors/Suppliers
  • Registration
  • Sponsorship
  • Marketing
  • Evaluation

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:  
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Audience-Specific
    • Realistic
    • Timed

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.

Happy planning!

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Topics: event promotion, event publicity, event planning, eventPR, events

All the Buzz: March 2016

Posted by Kelsey Davis on Mar 31, 2016 6:16:34 PM

Somehow, it’s already spring. Not that we’re complaining – we are loving the warmer weather and longer hours of sunshine each day. With a new season comes many other new things, and the JJPR office is no exception. Here’s what we have been buzzing about this month.


Team Development

You may have already met our two new team members, Sarah Grube and Alison Leonard. Sarah took on the role of our new creative director and has been blowing us away since before she started. Judging by the rapid pace that she works and by how dialed in she is to all of our clients’ projects, it seems like she’s been here for years. Speaking of years, Alison is only just beginning her PR career, but as our new account coordinator, she is quickly turning her tremendous amount of potential into a polished and poised skill set.



Office Space

To accommodate our growing team, we’ve had to rearrange the office a bit. So, spring cleaning turned into spring redesigning, and we’re now enjoying the modified open-air set up.



Work, Work, Work

We recently cranked out two new websites, and we’re pumped to show off one of the finished products. Baldwin County Education Coalition came to us for help with media relations, various design and marketing projects, and (obviously) an updated website. Our goal was to keep it simple, but also full of the information their audience needs at their fingertips. Easy navigation was a must too.





 We were thrilled to be awarded the opportunity to work with Fuse Project on several of their ongoing projects, one of which is the third annual Dragon Boat Festival. Since 2014, Fuse Project’s Dragon Boat Festival has raised over $250,000 and with a goal of raising $225,000 this year, it will not disappoint! At the festival, participants race in a 40-foot-long Hong Kong style dragon boat. With 20 rowers paddling to the beat of their drummer located at the front of the boat, participants race for 250 meters. The festival is a family-friendly, alcohol-free event with food trucks, a petting zoo, a trackless train, a gyro gym, jumpies for children, pony rides, and all of the wonderful exhibits of the Battleship USS ALABAMA. There is truly something for everyone! So, what are you waiting for? Get a team together and sign up today!



Real Time Changes

It’s no secret by now that Instagram is updating the way they display their photo feed. Instead of seeing posts in reverse chronological order, you’ll see photos in the order that Instagram’s new algorithm thinks you’ll most appreciate.

If you missed it, we shared some of our favorite Instagram tips and tricks a few weeks back. It explains how to set up and receive notifications for users you follow whenever they post a new photo or video.



Feel free to set up notifications to see what we’re buzzing about throughout the month! And check out our how-to guide for social media strategizing that will make your clients (and boss) sing your praises.


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Topics: social media, Marketing, website design, instagram, eventPR