Last May when I accepted the position of conference coordinator, I was completely unaware of the wild ride I was in for. Planning a regional conference is a completely different animal than the TU Invitational conferences I attended in the past. Planning Temple PRSSA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional conference “Being A Full Service PRo” was one of the biggest learning experiences of my college career. Here are some tips and tricks that I learned along the way and my thoughts on the event planning process.
Build a Reliable Event Planning Team
Event planning is not a solo mission or the field for lone wolves who do not enjoy working with others. An event can only be as great as the team behind it. I was lucky enough to have an amazing executive board at Temple PRSSA and faculty members who were dedicated and ready for the commitment of planning an event. People who are ready to rise to the occasion when they are needed and have skills that they can bring to the table are integral to planning your event.
Start Planning Backwards
The best way to get started planning an event is to start with the event and work backwards in order to plan every single detail that you need to pull off the event. When thinking about an event it can feel daunting trying to determine where to begin the planning process. Imagine the event that you want to see and identify all the steps that will lead to that end product. This helps make the event more manageable and helps you identify your next steps.
Anything that Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong
Someone once told me that PR is just putting out little fires all day long. I thought I knew what they meant, but I did not grasp the true meaning until I got into event planning. Things that you thought were bulletproof will not go as you plan in event planning. People will get sick, there will be a mumps outbreak (yes, the disease from the 1800s), your programs will be made the wrong size and will need to be redone two days before the conference, they will not sell helium tanks as large as you need them, they will only have half the balloon letters you need at Party City and you will have to rearrange your program a week before the conference. I could go on, but I won’t bore you with the details. Moral of the story: be prepared for everything to go wrong but remain calm. Everything comes together in the end.
Have a Back-Up Plan
Like I said before, everything that can go wrong will go wrong, so plan for it. A contingency plan is absolutely necessary when planning an event. You need to have someone that you can call to fill in for someone or be able to fix a problem. Look at everything you have planned and then think about how it can all go up in flames. Exciting stuff, right?
Soak It All Up
When the day of your event comes, make sure you take it all in. All your planning and hard work is finally coming to life and there is no better feeling than seeing it firsthand. Live in the moment and don’t overly stress the small things the day of the event. You have spent so much time planning for this moment, everything is going to work out.
During the planning process, I told our faculty advisor Gregg Feistman, “I have learned that I never want to plan an even ever again.” But, I lied. After seeing the whole thing come to life, it was a rush of adrenaline and so exciting to see attendees enjoy the conference the day of. Event planning is something that everyone should try at some point in their career because the skills that you will learn can be translated to every job.
This blog post was written by Brianna Greco, Conference Coordinator.