For most, summertime means getting out of work early on Fridays, a decrease in workload and trips to the beach. For the Consumer team at SHIFT, summertime means event season.
Working in Consumer PR often involves hosting a slew of events, and that means you need to plan and execute events to perfection, leaving no detail forgotten. Whether it’s spending countless days teaching others about McDonald’s healthier menu options or working with pedicab drivers to hand out Hood ice cream in 103 degree heat, we’ve each developed our own event planning style. This usually includes gallons of caffeine, a dose of leadership, a dash of creativity and some major elbow grease.
Here are some tips that our team has learned through our collective experience that will help you pull off PR event perfection:
- Plan Early. Logistically, it takes a long time to finalize sponsorships and sign contracts (we started in January!). Start reaching out to all the involved parties early.– Peter McCormack, Account Executive
- Create Event Flows. Generate an organized event flow, or a visual representation of every aspect of an event in sequence, prior to the event. Use this to plan out every last detail – no matter how minor – with special attention to time allotment and staffing assignment. Should anything go awry, you always have this organized chart to get you back on track! This is also especially helpful for interns or anyone who wasn’t expecting to staff the event. – Colleen Murphy, Account Coordinator
- Don’t forget the tip sheet. If client VIPs or local celebrities are going to be in attendance, a tip sheet is gold. This allows staff, volunteers and media in attendance to know who needs to be taken care of. The tip sheet should include the pronunciation of VIP names, recent headshots/photos and their Twitter handles (just to name a few things!)– Bonnie Taylor, Account Manager
- Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate! When it comes to sponsorship costs, never agree to the first quote that is thrown your way. While you should always remain polite, don’t be afraid to push back to get the best possible price for your client – Taylor Smith, Senior Account Executive
- Pack Snacks. Always remember to bring along granola bars and lots of water, especially for events during those hot summer months. You never know when you’ll be too busy to eat, and staying hydrated is vital – Taylor Smith, Senior Account Executive
- Leave Ample Travel Time. Many have made the mistake of thinking that there is no traffic on the weekend. Always give yourself enough time – beach traffic can make a 20 minute drive take an hour and a half! – Casey Egan, Account Coordinator
- Wear Comfy Shoes. There’s nothing worse than wearing uncomfortable shoes that make your feet start throbbing…and then realizing you’re not even halfway through your event. Always remember the 3 S’s when choosing the perfect pair: supportive (as in, not those sandals that feel like you’re walking on a piece of cardboard), sensible (you better be able to power-walk your way through this event), and stylish (of course!).– Christine Blaine, Account Executive
- Don’t Forget to Smile. It can be hard to remember on-site when you’re busy with logistics, but trust me, nothing looks less approachable than someone with crossed arms or a frown. If you want me to come up to your booth/learn about your product/take a free sample, I am much more apt to respond to a smiling, friendly face. You might be tired or it might be raining…but do your best to put on a happy face – it’ll pay off! – Liz Iannotti, Senior Account Executive
- Enjoy Interacting with Event Attendees. People come from all walks of life, and you can learn fun tidbits from everyone. You might have some offbeat interactions, but it will help you learn challenges the brand faces and how to address them. – Julie Staadecker, Account Director
- Don’t be Afraid of an Oops. It’s important to talk about each event after it’s happened to discuss how it went, what could have been done better, what was done really well, etc. Especially when trying to keep budgets tight, it’s important the activation is well-planned and makes the most sense for your client. You will learn from each event. – Megan Hand, Account Manager
Many PR pros engrossed in the event planning game have realized that it is easy to concentrate on the event details and not on themselves when the day of the event finally arrives. Remember: it’s also important to stay focused on what you need to keep yourself running at optimal speed. If you’re unable to run around to put out fires due to sore feet or you get dizzy from lack of water, it’ll only make difficult situations worse.
If you think smart, plan ahead, take care of yourself and have fun, your summer events are bound to be a success.
Senior Account Executive