By: Vanessa Gresley
One of the most important responsibilities of my position on the board for PRSSA is planning Communications Connection. CommConn is our yearly networking event hosted by PRSSA Kent and Franklin Advertising. I was intimidated because I had never planned an event before, let alone if any professionals were going to attend.
So the time came for us to head to National Conference and I was super excited; scared because the plane ride but super excited for the trip. When viewing the brochure I saw that one of the sessions was focused on strategic event planning and new this was the perfect fit for my new position.
The session was done by Gary McCormick. Gary is the owner and principal of GMc Communications. He’s worked with HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel and Great American Country. The session was all about creating an event with impact. Gary said that the one thing events do is bind people together with the same memories, it aligns them along the same train of thought. Most of the time events are happy occasions; there is joy in celebrating. Gary said companies use events to build engagement.
Engagement with an audience creates an affinity with the brand and helps the consumers stay loyal. Sometimes it’ll be a brand delivering on their promise or executing a strategic goal. Gary gave six reasons for why we really do events.
When you are hosting an event the first question to ask is why. Always know what the outcome needs to be before you even start designing the event. Sometimes when you see what you want the outcome to be from throwing this event, you will realize that an event may not be the tactic that will get you the best outcome.
Once you know you want to host an event, Gary said the first thing you have to do is build a plain.
Gary said the hardest part can be sticking to your budget. Your plan needs to align with your budget. Things to keep in mind: Speakers, cost, food, vendors, visuals, support services, security, logistics and creative needs.
“When you become an event person you become a multitasker with great communication skills.”
It takes strategic skills to bring the party to plan. Use SMART objectives said Gary. Through the whole process make sure to keep asking yourself questions and going back to the whole reason you are throwing the event.
Partnerships with the local community and businesses that drive your target audience is a great way to make your event successful. Develop the plan, meet the objectives and follow through and you’ll start planning events with the successful outcomes you want.