Tag Archives: event planning

Field of Dreams Is Not A Good PR Case Study: Consider Events

“If you build it, he will come.” Obviously a great premise for a Hollywood blockbuster.

Who wasn’t captivated by Kevin Costner’s tenacity in building a ball field, inspired by the ghosts of baseball past who assured him by merely converting his Iowa corn fields into a diamond that his deceased father would return to right their strained relationship.

The closing scene featuring miles and miles of headlights making their way toward the fantastical field is one of the all-time cinematic greats.

“If you build it, he will come” may have been sufficient to make 1989’s Field of Dreams a success, but it’s not good practice in the world of public relations.  Blockbuster PR requires careful strategy and attention to detail, with no “i” too small to dot and no “t” too small to cross. Let’s use event planning as a case in point.

So you’ve decided to host a gathering . . . Events can be key to achieving many public relations goals, and in the right instances bigger really can be better. But simply dreaming up a spectacular, pull-out-all-the-stops extravaganza will not guarantee success if you don’t back it up with the proper strategy and attention to detail that will do justice to your idea.

What are you going to do . . . So you’ve got this great concept. Then what? What will your guests experience upon arrival? How will you engage them throughout? Is this gathering for work or play? What is it you want them to leave with? Carefully considering these questions and more – and making sure all event elements work in harmony – will make even the simplest plans perfection.

2015 Grand Prixmiere, Belle Isle Conservancy Benefit sponsored by Price Waterhouse Cooper and Chevrolet (Joe Wilssens photo)

2015 Grand Prixmiere, Belle Isle Conservancy Benefit sponsored by Price Waterhouse Cooper and Chevrolet (Joe Wilssens photo)

It IS who you know . . . Attracting the right crowd to meet your promotional goals can be harder than you think. First and foremost is to make sure the event you’re planning truly appeals to your target audience. But even with that aligned, simply assembling a massive invite list in the hopes of attracting “enough” people is not a good approach. Think about the groups, organizations or communities with the pockets of people you want at your gathering and focus your invite efforts there.

It’s not just once and done . . . Unlike the throngs who simply showed up for Costner, it takes work to draw a crowd for any event. It’s generally not enough to issue an invite and call it a day. It usually takes working multiple avenues and multiple contacts to attract attendees. Make sure your guests save-the-date with advance notice, followed by a hard copy and/or electronic invitation and supported by social media appeals. Add in news releases and calendar listings for good promotional measure and the chance that you’ll have an elbow room-only event will grow exponentially.

Only one chance to make a first impression . . . Be creative and complete with your invitation. Make sure your design is eye-catching and communicates your event’s personality. Is this a serious or lighthearted gathering? One look at your invite should convey which it is. And without weighing down the design in text, be sure to clearly highlight the who, what, when, where so your guests can readily find ALL the pertinent details.

By putting a bit of forethought into your next event, or any PR initiative for that matter, you can enjoy blockbuster results. And they will come!

Pat Adanti-Joy, APR, is a vice president at Franco Public Relations Group, supporting the agency’s nonprofit clients, which includes event planning. You can reach her at 313-567-5046 or joy@franco.com.

Tales of an Event Planner: Wedding Planning the PR Way

On December 25, 2013, my client list got a little bigger. It wasn’t a nonprofit organization or corporation. It was a bridal client, and that person was me. When Joshua and I first started dating, he told me a story about penguins. When a male penguin wants to spend the rest of his life with a female penguin, he finds a perfect pebble and gives it to her. That Christmas morning, in front of his family, Joshua got down on one knee, handed me a pebble and asked me to marry him.

#love on #mackinacisland #mackinacwedding #mackinacislandwedding #lanasphoto @detroitcitygrrl

A photo posted by LANA TRAYSER PHOTOGRAPHY (@lanasphoto) on

After the initial shock of the proposal wore off, I began doing what every good event planner does. I purchased a binder and a flash drive, and set off to develop my spreadsheets.

 “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

Wedding planning is no different than planning an event for a client. My husband-to-be and I set a modest budget. That helped us determine venue, save the date cards, invitations, photographer, food and drink, wedding attire, and décor. (It’s important to note that every good event planner has a line item in his or her budget for contingency. You never know when an unexpected cost will arise and you’re unable to pay for it.) We researched vendors and requested quotes. From there, we were able to decide on the most romantic wedding destination in the world – Mackinac Island.

Andrea used her experience as an event planner to plan her own dream Mackinac Island wedding. Photo courtesy of Lana Trayser Photography

Andrea used her experience as an event planner to plan her own dream Mackinac Island wedding. Photo courtesy of Lana Trayser Photography

My advice to any bride-to-be doing their own wedding planning, or even a client, is to research other major events taking place on or around your wedding date. For our wedding, we happened to choose a date in the middle of Mackinac Island’s Lilac Festival on Friday, June 12. And, of course, springtime is highly desirable to have a Mackinac Island wedding. Because of those factors, we booked our venue and reserved our hotel block as soon as possible expecting an increase in tourism AND other bridal parties to contend with.

We also created a backup plan. We chose to have an outdoor wedding located at the beautiful Somewhere in Time gazebo; however we had an indoor location in case of rain. I also purchased a golf umbrella to keep us dry during our wedding photography session. I’ll get to the weather in a moment.

“Oh, what fun, I can’t wait ‘til the future gets here.” Ben Folds

As with client event planning, a to-do list should be created with date and notes columns. This will help keep you on track and meet deadlines. The time will go by quickly and you don’t want to scramble at the last minute to get things done. Since I had 18 months to plan for my wedding, I was able to pace myself and keep my sanity.

My wedding planning came down to the very last detail:

  • Photographer’s shot list
  • Welcome bag contents (including Mackinac Island-themed gifts, tourist guide and timeline)
  • Menu (chicken, fish and pasta dishes)
  • Bouquet flowers (roses, peonies, lisianthus and ranunculus)
  • Wedding favors (personalized boxes of fudge)
  • Wedding ceremony
  • Run of show (down to the minute)
  • Wedding vows

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller

My wedding day finally arrived. I was able to execute my wedding plans and marry my best friend. That morning’s weather forecast did not look favorable. Instead of worrying about it, I chose to embrace what was predicted because we had a backup plan… and an umbrella. I was all set to walk down the aisle. Fortunately for us, we didn’t have to use the indoor location because the sky cleared up, the sun came out and the temperature was a perfect 68 degrees.

Your big day will be everything you wished for if you stay organized, maintain a budget and stay on track while wedding planning. Photo courtesy of Lana Trayser Photography

Your big day will be everything you wished for if you stay organized, maintain a budget and stay on track while wedding planning. Photo courtesy of Lana Trayser Photography

On the day of my wedding, I was lucky to have the assistance of my matron of honor and an amazing co-worker who also happens to know a thing or two about event planning. I would not have been able to enjoy my day without their help. They ensured tasks got done and vendors were paid.

I gave myself the difficult task of being the executive producer, director and lead actress of my wedding, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I didn’t sweat the small stuff and in the end, I planned my perfect wedding. I wish I could relive that day, but I have awesome photos that serve as a reminder of the best day of my life.

Did you recently plan your own wedding? Share your wedding planning tips and tricks in the comments below.

Andrea Kenski is a senior account executive at Franco Public Relations Group.  While she’s not planning to quit her day job, she is contemplating moonlighting as a wedding planner. You can reach her at (313) 567-5092 or kenski@franco.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @detroitcitygrrl and connect on LinkedIn.

Public Relations Lessons from a Data Conference in Vegas

Last month, Tina Sullivan and I were lucky enough to escape the cold to support DataFactZ in Las Vegas for the 2015 MicroStrategy World Conference. The data conference brings some of the top data professionals from around the world together for educational sessions and demonstrations of MicroStrategy analytics software.

As part of our data conference strategy, we planned a private event for DataFactZ clients and partners at Trsyt Nightclub to give attendees a place to unwind and network while having some fun after the conference. Looking back on the event, it reinforced a valuable lesson about the public relations profession – always be ready for a quick change.

The waterfall at Tryst Nightclub lit up with DataFactZ’s logo during the private event at the 2015 MicroStrategy World Conference.

The Tryst Nightclub waterfall  lit up with DataFactZ’s logo during the 2015 MicroStrategy World Conference.

The event included contests for guests to earn prizes throughout the evening. So, after landing in Las Vegas, we made a pit stop at Target and checked into the Wynn armed with supplies for a hula hoop, limbo and ring toss contest. Trying to give every guest a fair shot at a prize, we planned each contest down to the minute.

As the party grew, we realized we were going to have to change our approach to something a little more upbeat. And what could be better than a dance contest? The dance floor filled up and guests had a blast watching competitors get down to everything from Michael Jackson to LMFAO.

The event ended with some valuable new relationships and networking opportunities for our clients and the goal was accomplished – guests had the chance to unwind and have some fun with co-workers and partners.

From beginning to end, this conference reminded me that in public relations, no matter how much planning goes into a project, being ready to change at a moment’s notice is vital.

Seeing our clients and their guests enjoying the event also reminded me, yet again, of why I love my career at Franco – each day is different from the last and no matter what we’re working on, our team is ready for the next curveball.

Dan Horn is an account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach him at (313) 567-5008 or horn@franco.com.

Franco gives back

Joe Ferlito holds the microphone for a Channel 7 interview with homeowner Anna Solomon during Rebuilding Together Oakland County’s 2013 Rebuild Day. Photo provided by Linda Rogers.

Giving back. Corporate responsibility. Philanthropy. I’m sure these are all words you’ve heard before.

At Franco, we often help our clients identify opportunities to give back to the community. Giving back is not a requirement, but it’s the right thing to do. And we do it too.

Recently, Franco helped Rebuilding Together Oakland County promote its annual Rebuild Day. Each year, RTOC works with volunteers to repair homes and clean up the yards of low-income homeowners who are elderly, disabled or military veterans and unable to do the work themselves. This year more than 1,000 volunteers transformed 45 homes in 12 Oakland County municipalities.

This was a great opportunity to partner with a local nonprofit to help many deserving homeowners. RTOC handled the event planning; we drafted and executed a PR plan to spread the word about the program. We had great media turn out, and in between news crews I was lucky enough to join a group of volunteers to clean up the yard and install a new stove for Anna Solomon in Southfield.

I’ve volunteered in other capacities before, but this project seemed extra special because the homeowner was there watching the transformation of her home. Anna was overjoyed to receive the help; we were overjoyed helping her.

It was so rewarding to see her reaction as the project progressed that I forgot that I was “working” on a Saturday. It didn’t feel like work. We were just doing the right thing to help someone in need.

The RTOC program would not be possible without its sponsors and volunteers. Visit http://rebuildingtogether-oaklandcounty.org/applications.html to learn how you can get involved. The website also has information on how homeowners can apply for assistance.

Have you had unique and rewarding volunteer experiences? Share them in the comments section below.

Joe Ferlito is an account manager at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach him at (313) 567-5031 or ferlito@franco.com.

Keep your sanity (and hair) while planning an event

I love event planning. It’s an art. An event planner needs to possess certain skills to host a successful event, such as attention to detail, organization and the ability to be flexible.

Out of all my job responsibilities at Franco, event planning is my favorite. I’ve planned smaller events, but never a large event for several hundred people. One of my clients is a Detroit-based organization that wanted to host a town hall meeting to provide information to its members.

Save the date! Event planning is easy once you get the hang of it.

This was my chance to put my events skills to the test on a much bigger scale.

In the initial planning stage, we set up a meeting with the client to ask the five w’s: who, what, where, when and why.  Answering these questions helped guide me in organizing a successful inaugural town hall meeting.

• Why are you having this event?

In the case of my client, the organization wanted to relay important information to its members in an informal way. It also would give the attendees an opportunity to have questions answered.

• What type of event is it?

We decided the best way to present information was through a town hall meeting with a panel of speakers to deliver the message. With any type of event, make sure event insurance is in place. This will reduce liability on behalf of your client and everyone will be protected.

• When will the event take place?

The best time for the town hall meeting, based on our understanding of the audience’s work schedules, was in the early evening on a weekday.  Also keep in mind the length of the meeting. You don’t want to lose the interest of the attendees. Keep it simple and to the point. No one wants to sit in a lengthy meeting after working all day.

• Where will you host your event?

Since our client is based in Detroit, we needed to find a conveniently located venue with the capacity to hold several hundred people. I worked with the venue staff to determine onsite catering and technology needs for the speakers. Once the venue was secured, we did several site visits to visualize the set-up and work out any potential problems.

• Who will be involved in the event?

The obvious answer was the client. But, we also had to select an additional three speakers to touch on specific topics. The speakers were experts in their areas, and would be helpful during the Q & A session. Other key players that were important in the planning process was the venue management, tech staff and of course, the attendees.

As with any project, organization is the key to success. If you’re not organized, the end result will be less than fabulous. I found that keeping a spreadsheet with action items and deadlines kept me on track.

One last word of advice: You can plan down to the last detail, but sometimes not everything will go as planned. In my case, the volunteers showed up late causing me to do a little extra work with the set-up. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. I didn’t panic, took a deep breath and worked a little faster. It could have been a minor disaster had I not been able to roll with the punches. You need to be able to think quickly on your feet in case something goes wrong.

Hopefully these tips will help make your next event a success.

Have I left anything out? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

Andrea Kenski is an account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. She has successfully planned two town hall meetings with a third on the horizon. She has managed to keep her hair throughout the planning process. You can reach her at (313) 567-5092. You can also follow her on Twitter: @detroitcitygrrl.

GY PR Niche

Finding your niche in PR

The key to loving what you do is finding what you’re good at and matching it with what you’re passionate about. If you’re thinking about a career in PR, here are some skills any pro must have:

  • Ability to think and write like a reporter.
  • Ability to communicate clearly and concisely, in both writing and speech.
  • Masterful organization
  • Ability to multi-task – you must know how to do 10 things at once.
  • Solid understanding of social media – you must know the difference between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, Yelp, Foursquare and Pinterest and how powerful these social media networks can be.

Check out The Princeton Review for more information about a career in PR.

If you know you want to find a career in public relations, first ask yourself “Do I want to work for a corporation, agency or non-profit?”

GY PR Niche

An agency is a great place to start if you have no idea which route you want to take.

Whether an internship or your first real gig, working at a PR agency is beneficial because it exposes you to multiple clients in many different industries. Agencies also provide the opportunity to work with a team, develop leadership skills and be involved with almost every aspect of a client’s needs. On any given day, you’ll find us writing media materials, drafting a speech, chatting with a producer at local TV stations, tweeting, Facebooking, planning an event, negotiating an ad buy, blogging and brainstorming. It’s that kind of variety that makes me love my job.

Here at Franco PR, I have had the opportunity to work with clients across the board. Be it a circus, museum, restaurant, insurance company, hospital, nonprofit or bank, I’ve seen a lot. And actually, I’ve enjoyed working on every one of those accounts in one way or another. During my relatively short time at Franco, I’ve found that I really enjoy working with nonprofit and retail clients.

Maybe traditional PR is not for you.

So you’ve found yourself deep in the trenches of your PR career and you’re still unsatisfied. Don’t worry, you’ve got options. Many people with PR experience choose to take a more targeted path and start careers in fields like marketing, advertising, social media management, media planning, event planning and freelance writing. It’s all relative.

Which PR sector do you most enjoy working in? What’s your favorite part about your job?

Genna Young is an assistant account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at (313) 567-5014 or young@franco.com. Follow her on Twitter at @GennaYoung.