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Managing and Promoting Events for the Greatest Impact
An ACC Online Chat – September 30, 2010
Download .PDF version of the transcript


Michelle_Butler Welcome to ACC’s latest online chat – Managing and Promoting Events for the Greatest Impact! During the next hour, we will discuss how your peers are designing, managing and promoting events to achieve the greatest impact for their companies. All are welcome to participate. We only ask that you remember that this is a professional forum and act accordingly.
Michelle_Butler ACC has lined up four experts to help us dig deeper during this discussion. They are:
Jennifer Aho - manager, community relations, Cox Communications
Laura Brubaker - director, public relations, Comcast – Western New England Region
Becky Ross - communications manager, FOX Sports North/FOX Sports Wisconsin
Tessie Topol – senior director of strategic philanthropy & community affairs, Time Warner Cable
Jennifer_Aho Hi I’m Jennifer Aho, Manager of Community Relations for Cox Communications Arizona. In this role I am responsible for corporate social responsibility programs including corporate giving, Cox Charities foundation management, employee volunteerism, events, sponsorships and special promotions.
Becky_Ross Hello, this is Becky Ross with FOX Sports North and FOX Sports Wisconsin. As communications manager for two regional sports networks, I focus on creating, implementing and promoting unique programming (ex: Countdown to Grand Opening of Target Field) and web events. (ex: Live Stream of Minnesota Wild Media Day) I also develop, organize and manage numerous local community and promotional events (ex: Hockey Day Minnesota) and serve as the company spokesperson.
Laura_Brubaker Hi, I’m Laura Brubaker, Director of Public Relations for Comcast’s Western New England Region, which includes CT, WMA and NY as well as the Carmel, NY and Upper Valley, NH areas. I’m responsible for developing and implementing public relations strategies that position Comcast as a technology leader and showcase the company’s products and services and corporate philanthropy within the region. I also serve as a company spokesperson and oversee external communications for the region, including social media, ensuring brand consistency and unified messaging.
Tessie_Topol I'm Tessie Topol. Senior Director of Strategic Philanthropy with Time Warner Cable. I was brought on two and 1/2 years ago to help reimagine the company's philanthropic strategy. I over see Connect a Million Minds, TWC's signature philanthropic initiative.
Michelle_Butler Welcome everyone! Please feel free to ask any questions.
Goals for Events
Michelle_Butler Why would a cable communicator design an event? What goals are you trying to achieve through the event?
Jennifer_Aho Most of us create events for strategic reasons such as to meet a business need, reach a specific audience or increase brand visibility.
Tessie_Topol The events we develop focus on raising awareness among and engaging key audiences in our company-wide philanthropic initiative, Connect a Million Minds. Our key audiences include customers, mainly parents, as well as youth, and also our employees in our local markets.
Laura_Brubaker An event is a great way to build awareness and get exposure for initiatives your company may already be doing but no one knows about. Depending on what the event is that you’re planning and what you’re looking to promote, there may be a few different goals. In my world, they mainly fall into: positioning our company and our products & services as technology leaders in the marketplace, garnering media coverage/ public exposure for our community investment initiatives, & building relationships with community partners and elected officials.
Questions to Ask When Designing an Event
Michelle_Butler What are some of the questions you ask yourself when you set out to design an event?
Tessie_Topol How will we know if we've succeed once the event is over.
Laura_Brubaker I think the main thing you need to ask yourself is what is the goal? That will help you to determine who you need to involve, how you want to plan it, etc.
Michelle_Butler Tessie, do you usually define outcomes then? Set up metrics/ways to measure success?
Tessie_Topol Yes we do.
Jennifer_Aho What is the outcome you want and what will bring success for you and your partners?
Tessie_Topol And we try to share best practices as much as possible between our local markets.
Becky_Ross I think about who can get involved: Partners, clients, organizations within the community, etc. Who will benefit from this event besides me/our network.
Michelle_Butler Once you have your goal, how do you design an effective event? How can you design an event to achieve the greatest impact for your company?
Tessie_Topol To implement a successful event, we believe we need to provide our markets freedom within a framework. This means we identify a simple, compelling idea that is the “hook” of the event, so that everyone is working toward the same goal, and provide turnkey tools and templates to facilitate development. Then, we allow for some flexibility within execution, so that markets can customize events to best suit local needs.
Jennifer_Aho One thing we do is make sure all stakeholders participate in the planning process so that you build in ways to meet their expectations.
Laura_Brubaker I think you really need to make sure all aspects are covered to make the biggest impact – involve your product / marketing team to see if there’s a business tie-in (can you demo a new product or technology (ie 3D) at the event, etc.), involve your government relations folks to see if they’d like to invite elected officials, work closely with your community relations team members to help support the good work their doing and get some visibility for it, involve community partners who can help tell your story for you, and so on.
Michelle_Butler Tessie, can you tell us more about the freedom within a framework? Or give ideas of great customization?
Tessie_Topol An example was our Connect a Million Minds launch.
Tessie_Topol Back in November 2009.
Stakeholders and Successful Events
Michelle_Butler Jennifer, can you tell us more about how you involve all the stakeholders? Perhaps give an example of working with employees or senior management?
Tessie_Topol We had a core concept - a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) tour, where kids in our communities would be taken on a tour of all the coolest science and math example happening around them, that they see every day but likely don't think about.
Tessie_Topol We also agreed in advance who our target beneficiaries would be - middle school kids.
Jennifer_Aho I have found that open discussion and strategic thinking are the best way to create a successful event, by including your stakeholders in the original strategy/planning meeting you capture that feedback up front.
Tessie_Topol But each of the tours were different in each of the 20+ markets that participated.
Michelle_Butler What was your most successful event? Why was it successful?
Jennifer_Aho Also check in with your stakeholders mid way through planning to make sure expectations are on track
Tessie_Topol One of our most successful events so far was our company-wide Connect a Million Minds Week. During this week, we engaged thousands of employees across our footprint in volunteering with youth, at TWC offices and afterschool clubs. At corporate, we developed a robust but turnkey curriculum for employees to use in the implementation of the event, which empowered employees to act as mentors and teachers for youth. To raise awareness, markets worked with local officials to declare city-wide “CAMM Weeks”, a great way to attract media. This event was so successful because it reached really all of the objectives we have with CAMM – we raised awareness of the issue and our efforts, deeply engaged our employees, and impacted youth in our markets.
Becky_Ross Hockey Day Minnesota, (numerous outdoor hockey games televised live on location) we had so many different people onboard offering help and support: The mayor of the city, peewee hockey teams, , high school hockey teams, high school coaches and booster clubs, the Minnesota National Guard, the city Chamber of Commerce, media outlets and more. Everyone wanted to help and everyone helped spread the word. Thousands of people came to be part of an event because we promoted it as, and people talked about it as, a “true” community event-everyone wanted to be there. Media coverage was remarkable!
Michelle_Butler Tessie, how did you manage and organize such a large, nationwide event? Any tips?
Michelle_Butler Becky, that's great that the media coverage was remarkable. How did you plan to attract that coverage?
Laura_Brubaker One event that we had done that was really simple but very successful was an announcement we did in Vermont. Basically – we had partnered with an organization called iKeepSafe to help provide Internet safety resources to Vermont students that promote safe & healthy online experiences for children. As an internet provider, this made great business sense and positioned us as a company that is involved and responsible. As this is a key initiative for Vermont’s Governor, Jim Douglas and his wife, First Lady Dorothy Douglas, we worked with our Government Relations team to invite the Governor and First Lady to an event at a local elementary school in Vermont, where we announced the support Comcast had given to the organization, had the Governor say a few words about the importance of online safety and had the First Lady read the books we had provided to the kids, focused on Faux Paw the Techno Cat’s experience online. We topped it off with a special visit from a (costumed) Faux Paw the Techno Cat, which made for a great visual with the kids and Governor in our photos and we received extensive coverage, including every local broadcaster and total impact of over 800,000 media impressions.
Jennifer_Aho Our example of a successful event was really building upon enhancing our partnership
Tessie_Topol We involve a core group of our local public affairs professionals in the process as early on as possible, to make sure we are not cooking up ideas that have no real relevance locally.
Jennifer_Aho The Cox and Barrett-Jackson partnership over the last two years had successful generated over $500,000 in sales revenue, generated $34,000 for Cox Charities, rewarded our customers for their loyalty and positioned us favorably to car enthusiasts across the country. In 2010 we desired to continue to do all of those things but significantly increase our community impact by generating additional funding for Cox Charities – we were successful in continuing to generate sales revenue but ALSO raised $95,000 for charity through the sale of a special Cox Charities vehicle and gate proceeds from Cox Charities Day.
Promoting Events, Obtaining Press Coverage and Social Media
Michelle_Butler Laura, why do you think you received extensive press coverage? How did you try to attract that coverage?
Becky_Ross We informed the media from the beginning, from the early planning stages—gave them an “inside tip” so they were interested and “ hooked” from the start. They wanted to cover it from start to finish. Plus, we got numerous community leaders (mayor, high school hockey coach, etc) to serve as a spokespersons and endorse the event. We also hosted a press conference to announce the big event months in advance.
Michelle_Butler Jenny, how did your event generate so much in sales revenue? Any tips on how to incorporate that element into cable events?
Laura_Brubaker I think we received the coverage we did based on how visual the event was (local elementary school children, Governor & First Lady doing a book reading, costumed cat) as well as the fact that the topic is so timely - internet safety is something that is in the headlines every day.
Tessie_Topol We also gravitate toward quality over quantity.
Michelle_Butler Do you all find it challenging to obtain press coverage for your events?
Tessie_Topol Less is more is something we often come back to.
Jennifer_Aho We secured the telecommunications business through Cox Business as well as sold on-site jumbotron sponsorships through Cox Media.
Michelle_Butler Everyone, please feel free to ask questions or answer any questions. How have you made your events successful?
Laura_Brubaker It can be - you can plan a great event with all the right elements and then there can be breaking news or nowadays newsrooms are so understaffed that few media people can actually get out and cover events. However - we find that post-event coverage and using social media is a really great way to get exposure regardless of the amount of press that shows up at the actual event.
Michelle_Roebuck With the cutbacks in print and television staffing, we do encounter challenges getting press to attend media events. Also, being heard above the noise when pitching.
Michelle_Butler Laura, how do you use social media? To reach reporters? Potential Customers? How do you incorporate social media into the events?
Becky_Ross Laura, great point...creating press and exposure via social media after an event is easy and goes a long way! I had Sports Illustrated call and ask if they could use photos from a Facebook post I did after Hockey Day.
Michelle_Roebuck I agree. Post event coverage is more successful. We provide b-roll and photo stills.
Jennifer_Aho Does anyone else have success in making it turnkey for the media by offering B-Roll packages if they can’t come onsite?
Tessie_Topol Michelle Roebuck - what strategies do you use to be heard above the noise?
Michelle_Butler Great about SI, Becky!
Tessie_Topol For us having a very clear focus has been key.
Laura_Brubaker Exactly, Becky. Journalists are multitasking as much as we are and need quick, short info. We will put short blurbs out on Twitter and link to our Facebook page. Sometimes we post photos and tweets rigth from teh event and other times we post photos after the fact for more visiblity, tagging electeds, key folks, etc.
Michelle_Roebuck As I stated, that's more a challenge than a success story.
Michelle_Butler Michelle_Roebuck, what other tactics have worked for you to obtain coverage?
Michelle_Roebuck We have used our own staff to film and then drop off b-roll at the station.
Michelle_Roebuck We take professional grade photographs and distribute them to the press.
Tessie_Topol As we develop credibility around that focus, we become more of a known quantity. A reliable source for quality content (events etc.) on our issue.
Michelle_Roebuck We offer feature stories and interview opportunities. We recently offered...
Michelle_Butler It sounds like social media can really help with promotion. Has it changed how you interact with reporters?
Jennifer_Aho Contests and incentives work well for us to get a buzz going via social media.
Michelle_Roebuck A story on Crime Stoppers success in capturing criminals via their cable coverage of wanted fugitives. of users.
Michelle_Butler Jenny, can you give us an example of some of the contests or incentives you have offered on social media?
Theresa_Yeoh b-roll and video trailers have helped with media coverage
Laura_Brubaker We use similar tactics - we'll offer to pen editorials from Subject Matter Experts on topics (ie - oneline safety, how to make your small business run efficiently from a tech perspective, etc.) and also distribute photos from events after the fact.
Steve_Jones To keep costs down regarding video for these events does anyone use a "Flip" type camera for either external or internal use?
Michelle_Roebuck We also recently offered a story on an employee with MS that walked in a local walk with friends, family and canine companions. Didn't get the feature story but got a nice photo with tagline.
Laura_Brubaker Yes - for our Comcast Cares Day, where employees volunteer nationwide, we actually distributed flip cams out to the field to our employees to capture footage we could leverage and post online, etc. and we use it at our own events on an ongoing basis as well.
Michelle_Roebuck We use Flip for Facebook
Jennifer_Aho We recently did Facebook ticket give aways for Storytime Live if fans visited our booth at the Kids Expo we were sponsoring the week before the event.
Becky_Ross We use flipcams all the time, both internal and external...I think everyone should invest in one or two. They are so easy to use and the video captured can be posted immediately.
Theresa_Yeoh flip cameras are a great, inexpensive tool, to use for taping press interviews and posting social media channels for coverage
Tessie_Topol We are taking some students with us this year to a major thought leadership conference related to STEM and social change.
Tessie_Topol We are giving each of the students flip cams so they can document their experience there.
Michelle_Roebuck taking photos on site at events and posting on twitter via ubertwitter or twitpic works well too
Tessie_Topol We'll push this content out on all our digital platforms.
Tessie_Topol One challenge with the flip cam is obviously quality.
Michelle_Butler So, is it true to say that in some ways social media allows you to cover your own event so to speak?
Becky_Ross Tessie, that’s a great idea! We've been giving pro athletes/special guests at our events flipcams to capture event footage from "their" point of view. Fans love it!
Tessie_Topol I would say it helps develop the "voice" of the event.
Tessie_Topol Thanks!
Michelle_Roebuck I'm also finding, especially with sports-related press releases, our reporters are tweeting out the info rather than printing it.
Michelle_Roebuck Which is a good thing
Laura_Brubaker I think it allows you to tell a much broader (visual) story than in the past. So regardless if the local TV stations show up, people can still know about your event - both media & the public.
Employee Engagement with Events and Reporters Use of Social Media
Michelle_Butler We've talked about media engagement with events. Do you use events as an employee engagement tool?
Tessie_Topol We always try to find a way to integrate employee volunteers into our events.
Michelle_Roebuck Yes. We use them to engage employees in community action and volunteerism.
Tessie_Topol But not just for the sake of doing so.
Tessie_Topol Better to have fewer or no employees at an event if it won't be a meaningful experience for them.
Michelle_Butler Becky, if anyone had given Hartford Whalers flip cams way back when, I would have loved it. What a neat idea!
Tessie_Topol For obvious reasons, volunteers want to feel like they are really impacting the outcome of the event.
Laura_Brubaker Agreed on the community involvement / volunteerism front. Holding events (ie day of community giving back like Comcast Cares Day) really engages our employees. Getting coverage for those types of events is icing on the cake.
Michelle_Roebuck The MS Walk publicity was a volunteer action initiated by an employee, photographed by family, and we pushed it out to media and got exposure.
Becky_Ross Yes...and the interesting thing is that the pro athletes are happy to do it, they think it’s fun and a unique way for them to communicate with their fans.
Tessie_Topol They know when that is and isn't happening.
Michelle_Butler Michelle_Roebuck, that is so interesting that reporters are tweeting rather than printing info? That sounds challenging. Can you measure the effect of that?
Michelle_Roebuck One of our popular reporters, Jon Garrett, is widely followed and will get things out quickly, as will our News 8 contact. It works well.
Michelle_Roebuck Especially if we hash tag or a URL. We can follow that.
Jennifer_Aho Does anyone else have specific goals for employee volunteerism? For example tracking hours, or incentivizing volunteer participation?
Michelle_Butler Tessie, how do you make sure the employee engagement feels authentic?
Theresa_Yeoh I find reporters are using blogs and tweeting more than publishing print news
Michelle_Roebuck TWC has specific goals each year for volunteers, measured in # of ee's and total hours.
Michelle_Roebuck I agree with Theresa on the blogging and tweeting.
Jennifer_Aho Michelle, how do you track that?
Tessie_Topol By design, we chose a community focus that relates to what many of our employees do everyday, which is work with and solve problems with technology, which at it's core is math and science.
Michelle_Butler Theresa, has the fact that reporters are tweeting and blogging more than writing/printing changed how you approach them?
Michelle_Roebuck You know reporters are being encouraged to do this, and part of their performance is measured now by it.
Theresa_Yeoh Michelle, yes. It has changed the way to interact with the reporters and how we provide them information
Michelle_Roebuck Following and retweeting your reporters helps cement relationships.
Tessie_Topol Many of our events integrate cable technology for education and inspirational purposes, so it gives our employees an opportunity to authentically participate.
Tessie_Topol They take great pride in being able to share the technology and the math and science behind it with young people.
Michelle_Butler Tessie, do the employees come up with ideas that can be incorporated into CAMM? Ways to spotlight cable technology?
Tessie_Topol To see how it inspires young people to think differently about technologies they engage with everyday.
Becky_Ross Yes Michelle...I do the same, I always retweet if a reporter mentions us!
Tessie_Topol Yes, particularly on our curriculum. That was developed by a committee led by Susan Warner.
Michelle_Butler Can you tell us more about that curriculum, Tessie?
Tessie_Topol That committee had TWC employees from all different functions and levels across the company.
Michelle_Roebuck Retweet your reporters even if they don't mention you but have something relevant or timely. They love it and they will keep following you, and sometimes return the love with a tweet when you need it or DM them to.
Tessie_Topol It brings middle school students into our offices and takes them through a series of hands on activities that teach them about cable technology and how digital signals are transmitted and received.
Tessie_Topol It is completely employee facilitated.
Laura_Brubaker Agreed - and make sure you're providing your own relevant content / serving as an info source as well. ie - I'll tweet helpful internet trouble shooting tips, etc.
Klacava and the employees who facilitate the curriculum also provide career mentoring for the students
Events Furthering Customer Loyalty and Becoming a Competitive Advantage
Michelle_Butler How do you use events to further customer loyalty?
Laura_Brubaker Branding really does make a difference when a consumer goes to make a purchase or decide between companies. People feel good about doing business with a responsible corporate citizen that is really visual and involved in the community. Also – people trust what they read / see editorially and hear from other people MUCH more than they do traditional advertising. In fact – I saw a stat the other day that stated that 14% of people trust ads, while 76% trust consumer recommendations & what they read. This just shows you the power of positive branding.
Michelle_Roebuck and the power of advocates and fans who advocate for you on facebook!
Michelle_Roebuck Anybody had any luck with that?
Jennifer_Aho We have offered exclusive customer discounts on tickets, 2 for 1, etc. for events via bill stuffers. It is great because it builds customer loyalty, differentiates us from the competition and is TRACKABLE for results measurement.
Michelle_Butler Can local events give your company a competitive advantage in the marketplace?
Michelle_Butler How so?
Tessie_Topol We have a steady stream of parents and educators thanking us on Facebook.
Jennifer_Aho Absolutely - localism is huge competitive advantage.
Tessie_Topol But more importantly, we have a steady stream of people engaging in a substantive dialogue around the content we are pushing out.
Michelle_Butler That's great, Tessie. Is there a specific Facebook page for CAMM?
Tessie_Topol Yes.
Tessie_Topol We are on our way to hitting 4000 fans.
Tessie_Topol or "likes"
Michelle_Butler Jennifer, can you give an example of a local event that gave Cox a competitive advantage?
Tessie_Topol We've also integrated the CAMM site with Facebook's open source functionality.
Tessie_Topol Facebook and CAMM site are now communicating with one another seemlessly.
Becky_Ross We use Facebook on a regular basis and "reward" the advocates who follow us be giving away prizes. (sports tickets, etc) Sometimes we announce "breaking news" to our fans on Facebook before anyone else knows about, it makes them feel more "in the know" and appreciated.
Jennifer_Aho This year we have focused heavily on doing events in the Hispanic market as it’s an underpenetrated customer segment for us, and is very grassroots in nature. For example we just sponsored a bicentenial Fiestas Patrias event with category exclusivity.
Partners and Events
Michelle_Butler Do partners help you in local events?
Michelle_Butler How do you choose your community partners? What do you look for in a potential partner? How does a partner help strengthen your event?
Tessie_Topol We felt that in order to maintain the integrity of the philanthropic brand, we needed the CAMM Facebook page to stand on its own, separate from the commercial TWC Facebook page.
Tessie_Topol That was not a decision we made lightly, because there are obviously a lot of benefits to having everything in one place.
Tessie_Topol But there are plenty of opportunities for cross promotion from one page to the other and we leverage them often.
Jennifer_Aho We look for strong partners (most often with well established events) who are willing to think creatively on customizing win-win solutions for both parties.
Michelle_Roebuck We choose our community partners with a strong slant toward STEM education to align with CAMM. They are usually very active and tend to have a high profile in their communities.
Laura_Brubaker Community partners definitely help. As a company, we (Comcast) focus on literacy, volunteerism, diversity and youth leadership & development, so we look for organizations that fall into those categories. But additionally, we look for community partners that will really help to take the lead in telling our story for us. We find the media responds more when a community partner is touting the support we've given vs. us taking the lead on publicizing.
Michelle_Butler Jennifer, can you give an example of a particular community partner who was really helpful?
Tessie_Topol As Michelle said, the real key is that the partners are aligned with our objectives, and that they have deep roots within the community.
Jennifer_Aho I look for partners that can bring different strengths to the table than we can offer alone.
Tessie_Topol We are working with a smaller # of non-profits than we have historically, but our relationships with those we are working with are deeper and more substantive.
Michelle_Butler Laura, can you give us an example of when a community partner helped you with a particular local event?
Laura_Brubaker Yes - we actually just had one yesterday with United Way.
Laura_Brubaker Our employees built something called a "Born Learning Trail" at a local school during Comcast Cares Day and we wanted to hold a ribbon cutting to announce that it was open. The United Way, the school & the school district took the lead on getting the mayor out, pitching the media, etc. and it was a great event that received nice coverage for us.
Michelle_Roebuck I AGREE with Laura responds much better to our partners approaches than ours in many cases, so it works better when our partner it touting the event/news.
Jennifer_Aho Barrett-Jackson was a great partner because they had a huge number of clicks on their website each day, and were able to send cross-promotional messages to their email database which had larger reach than ours.
Michelle_Butler Laura, you mentioned that the mayor attended the event yesterday. How can events help with government relations?
Tessie_Topol Our events often provide a platform for officials who want to be seen as a champion of STEM education.
Laura_Brubaker When we hold events promoting the work we're doing (ie - digital literacy programs for innercity youth, etc.), it's great for our government relations team to be able to invite electeds to the event so they're exposed to what we're doing and have the opportunity to speak to the attendees and see the programs / initiatives in action. it also helps us to get press there if they attend.
Tessie_Topol We make it as easy as possible for them to integrate into the event.
Jennifer_Aho Great question! EO focused events could range from candidate forums, debates, employee brown bag lunches, to strategically timed events in cities at franchise renewal time.
Michelle_Butler There are about 15 minutes left. Please feel free to ask any questions you have.
Measuring the Success of Events
Michelle_Butler We mentioned measurement briefly at the beginning, but I know that is always something that comes up a lot - sometimes as a concern. What tips do you have to offer on how to measure the success of your events? In terms of overall? management? promotion?
Jennifer_Aho We built measureables into the plan so that we would have tracking mechanisms in place during execution. For example we collected customer coupons at the gate to know redemption.
Laura_Brubaker We look at the whole picture – how many people attended, where there any elected officials there, did we receive media coverage (and how much), what was the reaction / conversation of those in attendance, did our marketing & business services representatives receive any business leads as a result, etc.
Michelle_Butler Jennifer, what other things have you found it helpful to measure?
Becky_Ross People in attendance, media coverage…and most importantly is everyone involved (partners, management) feeling good about what was accomplished? (seek out feedback from the people you worked with or people in attendance
Michelle_Butler Does this measurement/evaluation process help you to design more effective events? What kind of things have you learned through your evaluation process?
Jennifer_Aho We measure for what our goals were - so if it's revenue generated, we track that. Or, sales generated at an event via a specific campaign code.
Laura_Brubaker yes - definitely - i think you always need to regroup and talk about what you did well and what you can do better next time.
Tessie_Topol We are measuring consumer awareness of our community efforts over time.
Jennifer_Aho In some cases we track volunteer hours and translate that to the standard dollar value.
Tessie_Topol So while we have specific outcomes we look for in each event, we are also measuring longitudinally, to make sure we are always keeping the big picture in mind.
Skills Necessary for Successful Event Management and Promotion
Michelle_Butler What kind of skills do you think one should develop for best event management and promotion? For example, I've heard big event planners say you need to be very detailed oriented as you are building up to the event, but once the event starts you need to be a great problem solver who is able to go with the flow if necessary.
Tessie_Topol I agree, but sometimes we get so caught up in the details (albeit critical details) that we lose sight of why we are doing an event in the first place.
Michelle_Butler How do you try to make sure you don't "miss the forest for the trees" so to speak?
Michelle_Roebuck AGREED. We have event checklists and timelines, but when it comes to snafus at the event, everyone wears multiple hats to get it fixed and keep things running smoothly.
Laura_Brubaker I also agree - definitely need to be detail-oriented and simultaneously be VERY flexible.
Tessie_Topol Before we start nailing down the details of any event, we make sure that we can all articulate clearly how the event relates to our greater goals.
Michelle_Roebuck Have you notice there are big picture folks and detail-oriented folks? We notice, and try to leverage those skills. Also, it helps to have folks that don't want to plan or initiate, but are very happy to be there to do whatever is needed.
Jennifer_Aho Our key stakeholders tend to be more big picture so they can also help keep the planners from getting too absorbed in little things.
Tessie_Topol The event could be as tight and well attend as can be, but if it's ultimately not strongly connected enough to your overarching goals, it's not a good investment of time or energy.
Michelle_Butler What other advice would you give to people who were just assigned a large event to plan, manage and promote?
Michelle_Roebuck Agreed.
Michelle_Butler Face-to-face or phone is still best at times.
Tessie_Topol Think about what is really essential to make the event a success.
Michelle_Roebuck Funnel and filter. Start planning early, delegate tasks early. Assign timelines and deadlines.
Tessie_Topol Bells and whistles are great, but often are not what makes the event a success.
Tessie_Topol Make sure you the event has a solid foundation before you start adding things on top of it.
Becky_Ross Put together a plan/checklist and work from there. Deligate tasks and get people involved and excited to help you.
Jennifer_Aho Planning is so important. Get the right people on the bus and let them have ownership.
Tessie_Topol You need creative people involved in the event planning process, but one more idea or more whistle doesn't necessarily get you closer to reaching your goal.
Michelle_Roebuck I agree with Tessie. We have a media event tomorrow that started out as a simple check presentation.
Theresa_Yeoh I agree with Jennifer.
Tessie_Topol Sometimes it distracts from what's really important.
Tessie_Topol And you find yourself with a lot of cool ideas but no one to execute well on them.
Tessie_Topol Which is why we often come back to...less is more.
Michelle_Roebuck We built on the foundation, enlisting the aid and ideas of our partner, and have a fun, very visual event planned now.
Michelle_Butler What is the event, Michelle? Best wishes on it!
Laura_Brubaker Absolutely agree - less is more. Save up your event planning / media pitching for really worthwhile, well-thought out events.
Michelle_Roebuck What started out as a simple check presentation to the Humane Society for our PAWS on Demand
Michelle_Roebuck Is now
Michelle_Roebuck Having our "stars" parade down a red carpet, complete with Paw-tographs and Pawparazzi.
Michelle_Roebuck Our partner is so excited they are doing all the media outreach, although we'll touch our key media contacts as well.
Michelle_Butler That sounds cute, Michelle! Again, best wishes.
Laura_Brubaker We did something similar with our "Big Brothers Big Sisters Beyond School Walls" program launch. To welcome the kids, we had them each have a puzzle piece that they had to go match up with their mentors and we had them walk down the red carpet w/ sunglasses and feather boas...
Michelle_Roebuck Thanks! We expect to have fun. Coverage will make it even MORE fun!
Michelle_Butler That's darling, Laura. I bet the kids just loved it!
Michelle_Butler Any final thoughts?
Michelle_Butler Questions?
Michelle_Roebuck Nice visuals, Laura...and a great reward for the kids!
Theresa_Yeoh How many events do you hold in a typical year?
Laura_Brubaker Thanks - it was well-received and then we had cut-outs of celebrities and took pics with the kids (that they later created photo frames for in a future session).
Tessie_Topol From a corporate perspective, we hope to have at least two major "tent pole" events per year.
Tessie_Topol These are defined as events that integrate as many of our local markets as possible around a shared goal.
Tessie_Topol We are in the midst of planning one now that is scheduled for November, and it is not easy.
Jennifer_Aho Theresa - we tracked over 350 events last year! Am I tired! (of course they range from teeny tiny to giant)
Tessie_Topol But very inspiring to see it all come together.
Laura_Brubaker It varies - we hold events for a variety of reasons - employee volunteerism events, product / tech demos and community / government relations events.
Michelle_Roebuck Jennifer - what? you missed 5 days out of your year?
Michelle_Roebuck Oh, excuse my math, Jennifer... you missed 15 days out of the entire year to have an event?
Michelle_Roebuck (They didn't have CAMM when I was in school.)
Jennifer_Aho I know! haha
Tessie_Topol HA!
Michelle_Butler Thank you to everyone for making this such a great conversation about managing and promoting events for the greatest impact! Best wishes on all your future events and making them incredible successes!
Tessie_Topol Thanks for the opportunity.
Michelle_Butler ACC offers an e-learning opportunity every month. Check for more details. Please feel free to contact me at or 202-222-2372 if you have any suggestions for future topics, feedback on this chat, questions, etc.
Michelle_Roebuck Thanks so much
Laura_Brubaker Agreed - thanks for the opportunity!
Michelle_Butler It's been a pleasure!
Becky_Ross Thank you!
Jennifer_Aho Great discussion - thanks for having me!
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