Three Things You Might Forget When Planning an Event

Courtesy of Girls' Globe

Courtesy of Girls’ Globe

Event planning can be a phenomenal way to introduce yourself to the realities of the public relations industry.  With so many intricate, fast-moving parts, it takes a very organized person to execute a successful event. Sometimes it can be difficult for you to maintain the focus of a public relations practitioner in all of your efforts. If you do happen to lose focus, remember these three things:

1.    You’re not there to practice your decoration skills; you’re there to sharpen your project management capabilities.

Public relations students — especially PRSSA members — are extremely creative. It’s easy to let your mind wander during the planning process, especially when social sites like Pinterest can help you illustrate your vision. There’s nothing wrong with having the best-designed materials for your big event. However, there is something wrong if that’s where you devoted most of your attention.

Don’t skimp on the important factors of your plan, like your promotional strategy and logistical understanding of how things will run smoothly. The defining difference between an event planner and a public relations professional is the role’s focus. With event planning, the focus is on the event itself. In public relations, the focus is on what happens as a result of the event.

 2.    You begin with strategy and end with strategy.

Every function of your plan should work to accomplish a particular goal. Before you even begin, you should strategize. Set goals that align with your Chapter’s priorities. Are you looking to grow your Chapter in size? Would you like to double your fundraising account? If so, these are measurable goals that every function of your plan should work to accomplish. Have a written plan, approach each goal with several tactics and remain focused on strategy to deliver results.

 3.    You have more than one backup plan and they’re all just as good as the original. 

Working in public relations, especially in special events and projects, you’ll soon learn that anything and everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Forget if the WiFi password isn’t working, what if you lose power? What happens if your keynote presenter is stuck sleeping in an airport because of bad weather?

Address conflicts that you can control, and identify potential conflicts that you can’t. Sometimes, bad things happen that are completely out of your control. How you react to challenges is just as important as how you plan for them. A great public relations practitioner is reactionary, somebody who can use elasticity and common sense to solve any dilemma.

Don’t forget to put the PR in “practice” so you’ll have results your Chapter can be proud of. Event planning is a tool for publicists, not a job.

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To learn more about how you and your Chapter can use this tool to your advantage, contact Vice President of Regional Conferences, David Lee Watta

*Editor’s note* The original title for this blog post “Three Things That Separate You From an Event Planner” has been updated to the current title “Three Things You Might Forget When Planning an Event.” The previous title suggested a biased comparison to the event planning profession that was not the true intention of the content. Special thanks to our reader Lauren for inspiring some minimal changes that enhanced this post.

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2 Responses to Three Things You Might Forget When Planning an Event

  1. Lauren October 29, 2014 at 12:08 am #

    Hi there! Though I agree with the fact that Event Planning isn’t PR and vise versa, I don’t think you supported your evidence with solid arguments.

    First off, certain parts of the article had a condescending tone present. Especially in your first example. In saying, “You’re not there to practice your decoration skills,” makes event planning sound shallow and not very complex.

    With your last example, by saying that PR professionals will have more than one back-up plan that is just as good as the original is insinuating that event planners do not. Which, I can attest to the fact that any skilled event planner will have multiple back-up plans all being better than the last.

    I am sure you didn’t mean for this piece to come off belittling another profession, I just feel that you should re-think the way you present your arguments.

    Lastly, using the term “publicist” to describe PR is incorrect in itself. Publicists hardly deal with relations, their main focus is to promote.

    This comment is coming from a PR student that has spent many years interning as an Event Coordinator. I hope you are willing to see that Event Planners can hold their own in their own profession, and that PR pros use events as a tool to better their relations.

    Thank you.

    [Reply]

    David Lee Watta Reply:

    Good morning Lauren!

    First off, I’d like to thank you for your comment as it brought to my attention a very poor choice in title for this piece. To that I apologize, as the content is not really meant to compare event planning and public relations side by side. My intention was to highlight the functions of event planning that are often forgotten by public relations practitioners, not to cast a condescending tone to the profession itself. In the first paragraph, I reference the difficulties in event planning to celebrate the work of that profession. Like you, I too have had a majority of my experience under the event coordination and management umbrella and do not mean to undermine the work I have done.

    I believe the content itself is only offensive/condescending when compared side by side to the event planning profession. Again, it wasn’t my intention to portray event planning in a negative light. I am submitting a request to change the title from “Three Things That Separate You From an Event Planner” to “Three Things You Might Forget When Planning an Event.” Is it alright with you that I reference your name in my correction?

    I do however disagree with your last comment on the use of the word publicist. I use the title “practitioner” in every other reference to the profession and am aware of the differences in function between the two roles. However, event planning is still a tool that publicists can use to leverage results for their client, just like it is for PR practitioners. In the future, I’ll be more sensitive in naming my pieces– this taught me a good lesson I plan to put into practice.

    Thanks again,
    DW

    [Reply]

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