Insider tips to ensure your next event is planned and executed perfectly
Learn the art of planning and executing a successful PR event from Anna Stark and Tahira Matthews, founders of PR agency, Stark Matthews. Discover insider tips to ensure it's smooth sailing on the day, find out the best way to keep track of tasks and responsibilities plus they reveal the one thing they never attend an event without.
“Be mindful you will be asked questions constantly on the day of the event by your team and suppliers so give everyone the time they need. If you can delegate a task/question do so, but don't dismiss something as it could be crucial to that element being executed successfully. "
Listen to the full episode on The PR Pod podcast for more about event management. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast players, just search "The PR Pod".
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL EVENT?
A project manager. You need one person who is across every minute detail. They are responsible for delegating tasks, ensuring the elements of the event are delivered to time and the event is executed as planned.
A project timeline. This lists every single task relating to the various elements of the event, when that task needs to be completed and who is responsible for doing so. It's a work-in-progress document that is updated as each task is completed so it's clear how the event preparation is tracking. A GANTT chart is a great project management tool to use.
Regular meetings. It's important as a project manager you're touching base with those who are working on the event regularly, to ensure everyone is completing their tasks to time and any issues preventing that happening, can be addressed.
Runsheet. This documents the timings associated with executing the event on the day, in running order. It should cover all the tasks that need to be done (including suppliers), what time they are taking place, and any specific details associated to each task/element. As this document is provided to suppliers as well, it needs to be very clear as to when their element needs to be executed. For example, canapes to be served at 7.27pm or champagne to be poured and ready for guests at 6.50pm. The runsheet should also include the name and contact details for every person involved with the event, including the contact at the venue and all suppliers, as well as anyone within your company who has a role at the event. Clarify where parking is for suppliers, any restricted access information (perhaps they can only access the loading dock for 15 minutes) as well as when bump-in (when the venue can be accessed) and bump-out is (when you need to pack up the event and remove all the elements). Depending on the type of event, you may also want to include contact details for the likes of security, hospitals etc
SHOULD I SHOW MY CLIENT/MANAGER THE RUNSHEET?
Yes, it's important they are across all the details and feel comfortable with the planned timings for the event. Your manager/client should be the first people to see the runsheet once it's completed, and aim to get it to them 24 - 48hrs prior to the event. Once approved, it then needs to be sent to anyone involved in the event, internally or externally (suppliers), so they're very clear with their timings. .
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO KEEP IN MIND ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT?
Make sure each member of your team who you have delegated a responsibility to is clear on their role. Make it clear what you will need support with when they're not executing their element of the event.
Take care of yourself. Get a good night sleep the night before, make sure have snacks to hand and drink water.
Have chargers for your laptop and phone as well as a power bank in case you don't have easy access to a power socket.
Have printed copies of all documents for your team members such as runsheet, guest list etc. Even if your guest list will be managed from an iPad, have a back-up printed out.
Have AV arrive earlier than they suggest. Tech issues sometimes pop up and they may need time to sort them out. Often, your client/manager may want to do a run-through of a presentation in advance of the event so it needs to be smooth-sailing by the time that happens. And, you definitely don't want them still sorting out issues as your guests arrive.
Make sure you have a couple of copies of any digital files that may be used by AV for a presentation. If your sole copy ends up corrupting, you will have no back-up.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR, POST-EVENT?
You need to oversee the bump-out of the entire event, so the venue is left in the condition agreed with by the venue manager. It may mean staying back for a few hours to wait for the AV team to dismantle their equipment, wait for the styling team to remove all the props or re-arrange the furniture of the room back to what it was originally.
Thank everyone associated with executing the event. Send an email later that night or first thing in the morning to suppliers, individually, to thank them for their contribution. Also send an email to your team to thank them for their efforts in bringing them event together, and send an update to your manager/client on how it went, who attended and give them a quick overview of any results you expect from it in terms of coverage/social media posts etc.
Thank guests for attending. This goes a long way in showing you are grateful they made the time to attend the event. If it's media, make sure you provide any extra information they may require such as a media release, images etc.
TIPS FOR EXECUTING A SUCCESSFUL EVENT
Be vigilant in keeping your project management task list/timeline updated. If you are pulled away from the project for any reason, it will be clear to whoever takes over project management exactly where you're at with event organisation.
The runsheet shouldn't assume any information. Someone else should be able to pick up that document on the day of the event and know exactly what is happening at any moment including who is responsible for each element, what their contact details are and any information pertinent to that element being executed.
Be very specific with timings on the runsheet. Every minute counts with an event and if one element is seven minutes late, it is likely to effect the next element and so on.
Ensure all the members of your team who are helping to execute the event introduce themselves to the suppliers when they arrive. It means if the supplier has a question and can't find you, they know who else they can turn to.
You need to pick up the phone and call each of the suppliers once you've sent them the runsheet. It's important you check they received the document, see if they have any questions, and reconfirm exactly what they're supplying. It may be a few weeks since you initially locked their services so it's important to recap on the details of the event with each of them. The last thing you want is them to have missed your runsheet and just assumed you're not having the event anymore and therefore not turn up. It is unlikely that will happened but never leave it to chance!
Bring your internal team together a few days prior to the event and get them to question you on all the elements of the event, just to make sure you've not forgotten anything. If you have, you at least have a few days to sort a solution. Don't be too proud, cover your bases.
Develop strong relationships with suppliers. The more you use them, the more trust you will have in them and they will understand your requirements more acutely. They are also more likely to do you a last minute favour when an emergency pops up.
Create an event toolkit and take it to each event. Include scissors, Stanley knife/box cutter, measuring tape, duct tape, cable ties, extension cords... essentially anything you might need to sort out an issue on the day. After the event, do a review and make sure anything used/missing is replaced so it's ready for the next event.
Keep an eye on what's coming up on the runsheet as the event proceeds and just check in on the person responsible for it to make sure everything's on track. It could be that person has lost track of time and not realised they are due to execute something soon.
Have an extra pair of hands available to do odd jobs or support someone that needs help. If you've delegated out all the tasks well, this extra pair of hands may be you.
If you would like some tips on creating event invitations, preparing an event budget, managing a guest list or using an event stylist, you'll find those episodes here.