As PR professionals, we thrive on making magic happen behind the scenes to produce exceptional client results. So to me, creating and executing a spectacular event is the silver tuna of working in public relations. Throughout my experiences I’ve learned that it’s never easy—but that the planning process can be easier if the six tips below are kept in mind.

  1. Start with clear objectives and never leave them behind. Before you schedule any meetings to start brainstorming the event concept, make sure your event objectives are clear and that you are prepared to brief all involved parties on this ahead of time. Then as you get down to planning details—from what type of event it will be to the lighting, décor, staging, entertainment, etc.—make sure all of these details map back to your objectives.
  2. It’s never just a party. To get people/media to come, the event needs to be exciting. To do your job as a PR professional, the event needs to be fun AND informative. Remember the reason you started planning this thing and make sure your attendees don’t just leave with a smile and a full stomach—they should also leave with an understanding of the story you were telling.
  3. Celebrity engagement can be helpful…if it serves a purpose. Celebrity engagements can be great and really draw a crowd if they have a clear role in meeting your objectives (see the points above).  Any celebrity you consider for involvement should have a relevant tie-in to the cause so that they help tell your event’s story. Without this, while the cameo will generate initial excitement, it will eventually be a distraction if it lacks purpose.
  4. Diligent communication is key. Will food be served? Buffet style or servers? What would servers wear? White or black shirts? The amount of details you’ll be confirming leading up to an event is mind-boggling—and this is only a small glimpse.  Make sure that every single detail is communicated and understood by clients (as well as everyone involved) along the way because at some point, clients will ask someone involved to explain why black napkins are being used.
  5. Be prepared for a variety of issues. When you’re onsite with clients preparing for the event, there will be multiple occasions where you’ll need to drop everything you’re doing to handle a variety of small emergencies that arise.  This is where a “war box” that contains a wireless printer, USB drives, a stapler, Advil, etc. comes in handy as well. Be prepared. Know who to call, what to do and/or how to message problem-solving solutions to your clients on the fly.
  6. Don’t forget about the after-party. On the big day, you and your clients will be furiously running around to ensure your event is flawless from start to finish. The key challenge here is remembering that at the same time, you need to provide your clients with a positive experience throughout the execution—which should include a little celebrating with them immediately after the event. Once every last person is out the door, close it. Have the caterers bring the leftover food out and give your clients (and team) the chance to revel in what you just pulled off.

Image courtesy of Angela Winnie.

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