We’ve all been to various events throughout our whole lives. Ones put on by our friends and family, organizations and schools we have attended. I have always been one to enjoy events, but I never read into them. I never spent a second thinking about how much work and planning went into the event I was casually enjoying (or sometimes casually disliking).
The summer before I came to Kent State, I was tasked with planning a bridal shower. In that moment, my take on events changed forever. That summer was filled with phone calls, errands and tears. Deciding what my friend would want without asking her, figuring out how to make it happen and enlisting help… not as easy as I had originally thought. In the end, my beautiful friend got the bridal shower she deserved, and I began to realize all it took to put on an event.
Fast-forward to the present, my sophomore year at Kent State. Holding the YouToo Social Media Conference Chair position for PRSSA and taking Public Relations Tactics, I knew I was in for some serious event planning throughout the year. The YouToo Social Media Conference took a lot of work. I had direction from my peers and professionals who had dealt with the conference before, so I was not on my own. As for my event planning class projects, not so much. We learned how to make an event strategic, create objectives and lay out a budget. All of that is valuable knowledge, but unfortunately, there’s no set in stone way to create an event.
Here are a few of the things I feel have been the most important lessons I’ve learned about event planning:
1) The event must be strategic. Anyone can host a luncheon or a walk-a-thon. When planning an event, you must ask yourself, does this event align with my organizations mission? Does this event tie in with what I am trying to accomplish?
2) You must have a target audience. Know who you want to attend your event and why. If you are hosting a fancy, black-tie party, you most likely shouldn’t be targeting high school kids. If you want to raise millions of dollars, you shouldn’t be targeting low to middle class families.
3) Set goals and objectives. Go in to your event knowing exactly what you want to accomplish. If you don’t know what you want to get from the event, why are you hosting it? How will you measure success if you don’t have a base for success?
4) Your event needs to be appealing. With all of the strategy, audience and objective talk, it can be easy to lose sight of the fun part. Make sure your event is something that your target audiences would really want to attend. It should be fun, interesting and/or informational.
I have come a long way with my event planning skills since the bridal shower, even though that was a friend-only event. I can assure you there was no talk of strategy. I can’t wait to develop my event planning skills as I continue my journey through the PR curriculum.