The Thrills and Chaos of Event Planning
This fall semester, I was able to land my first internship! Philadelphia Magazine is one of Philadelphia’s most popular monthly magazines. The magazine has a consumer base spreads from Philadelphia to the neighboring counties of Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, and Bucks County, Pennsylvania, as well as Camden and Burlington counties in New Jersey.
I had the pleasure of working on Philadelphia Magazine’s Consumer and Special Events department. Under the guidance of the Consumer and Special Events team, I got a first-hand look into the intricacies of event planning.
When I say intricacy, I truly mean intricate! The amount of time and energy which goes behind every little detail is truly mind-numbing. When planning an event, the planner must have a plan, a back-up plan, and a back-up for the back-up as well!
Our department was responsible for making sure all events run smoothly. Their tasks include finding event venues and vendors, notifying necessary sponsors for the events, hiring photographers, developing promotional material, sending out invitations, promoting the events on all socials, strategically develop messaging for their audience, and inviting relevant journalists for event coverage just to name a few.
This sounds quite daunting at first read, and luckily Philly Mag didn’t overwhelm the other interns and me with all of this at first. They eased us in by allowing us to track their promotional newsletter coverage, develop their contact lists, organizing their materials, answering phone calls and other similar tasks. My favorite perk was we got to attend all of their events first hand.
Events I have been to were Best of Philly Soirèe presented by Mercedes-Benz, The Feastival presented by Audi, Whiskeyfest, Philadelphia Magazine’s Design Home, and Thinkfest. Each event had at least 150 patrons. The Best of Philly Soirèe was the largest event with 341 invited vendors and more than 500 guests!
The most surprising thing I observed was the chaotic energy that exists behind the scenes. During the events, problem-solving skills are a must! Event planners must expect anything that can go wrong at any given time. They must be prepared to handle these small crises while maintaining the order for our guests and sponsors.
During the Best of Philly Soiree, the team was faced with unexpected rain forecast. While the surprise was unwelcome, it wasn’t an event there wasn’t a risk plan for. I was able to witness the team, pull together and launch their rain risk plan. This plan included putting up event canopies, finding ponchos for guests, as well as accommodate the presenting vendors. I remember having to make an emergency run to Target to buy towels.
Even though I was “on the clock”, it never truly felt as such. Many events were spent at registration and assisting the special events team to maintain order behind the scenes. Usually, after everyone is registered we remained on call for our next task. The downtime was spent jumping from different food vendors, tasting some of Philadelphia’s finest chef’s signature dishes and networking with the Philadelphia elite.
Events seem elegant, run smoothly, and fun for patrons. Behind the scenes, I can guarantee there is a completely different narrative unfolding. Events are a useful public relations tool to promote an organization, product, or service. It is also a practical tool to network and gives you the potential to meet a new employer.
I personally applaud Temple PRSSA’s executive board members responsible for planning our Mid-Atlantic District Conference this year. Our conference coordinator Mackenzi Hockensmith and assistant conference coordinators Kali Lauer and Amelia Wilt have been working tirelessly alongside our faculty advisor Professor Gregg Feistman to make sure our event is harmonious. This is no easy task!
This blog post was written by Ola Coleman, TSG Representative.