As a PR consulting professional, at some point in your career you will find yourself planning a public relations special event for your client. This could be a fundraiser, a grand opening, an employee event, or an appreciation dinner, just to name a few. As with anything else, how well you plan the event will determine its success.
Determine the Objective
Before you begin planning your event, determine the objective. Every event will have at least one objective, but most will have two – a primary objective and a secondary purpose. For example, the primary reason for holding an appreciation dinner for your non-profit client’s donors is (drum roll….) to show appreciate for their help. However, the secondary desired result from the dinner is that they will be motivated to continue or increase their giving and to tell their friends and associates about the cause, generating additional donors.
Determine the Type of Event
Once you’ve establish your desired result, what type of event will it be – a formal dinner, a family picnic, a low-key gathering? Make sure the type of event is appropriate for the purpose and the attendees. A fundraiser can be an extravagant dinner if the attendees are high-income households. If you are targeting the middle-class, you will want an affordable dinner with, perhaps, a silent auction on medium-priced items and/or a reverse raffle. If your target guest list consists of people with young families, plan a child-friendly event.
Determine Date and Time
Your primary concern, of course, is to give yourself enough time to plan your event well. Then, you need to make sure that the time and date are appropriate for the type of guest. If it is a family event, a Sunday afternoon usually works well. A formal dinner would be held on a week-end evening, while a more informal reverse raffle could be held on a Thursday evening.
Determine the Location
The location of your event will be determined by geography and by style. It should be convenient and appropriate for the type of event.
Determine the Menu
Now you must decide on a menu. Is this a full dinner, hor d’oeuvres, or desert and coffee? Again, it must be appropriate for the occasion and the type of guest. Will alcohol be served? If so, is it included in the dinner price or will it be a cash bar?
Determine the Entertainment
This will depend on the type of event, but keep in mind that Americans have a very short attention span. If you have speakers, limit them to 15 to 20 minutes. You don’t want your guests to be bored. If you are having more than one speaker, the total time for all speakers should not exceed 30 minutes. Your goal is to have your guests leave looking forward to your next event, not glad it’s over. If you have musical entertainment, keep in mind that, sad to say, if no alcohol is served, it will be over very quickly.
Track Your Progress
Whatever your desired method, be sure to keep well-organized records of vendors, guest lists, and to-do lists. I like to use Excel spreadsheets, but you may have another application that you prefer. It doesn’t matter what you use, just so you are keeping track of every detail.
Proper planning and tracking every detail will assure success for your client as well as for you in your public relations special event planning career.