Crash Course: Event Planning

Two weekends ago I was fortunate enough to take a weekend workshop through the Univesity’s School of Journalism and Communication focused on event planning.

I was able to take in a lot of information from the two-day crash course and I’m even able to work on an inaugural event that will kick off in five short weeks. It’s going to be a challenge but there’s a team of us so I’m hoping everyone can pull their own weight and we can kick-off an awesome event.

I’ve learned some key elements of event planning and I thought I would share what I learned here.

Firstly, I didn’t realize that event planning truly spans across many different categories. Event planning is one of those industries that will almost always be around. Nonprofit to for-profit to sports and government, events are always going to be needed. And of course, the private event industry with the top category of weddings will always be around.

Event planning is more than just throwing together a couple of decorations and the food menu, it’s much more. Many events are usually planned out a year in advance because of the complexity of certain elements. Most plans are broken down into five (or six) phases.

  • Phase 1: Research (1 year out): You have to know what the budget is going to look like, what type of audiences you need to reach and if the event is even possible.
  • Phase 2: Plan (9 months out): Planning is really the whole thing, but this phase is picking a date, picking your team and finding a venue.
  • Phase 3: Designing and Promoting (3 months out): Pick a theme and send out those “Save the Dates” but also get permits for your venue/food and beverage.
  • Phase 4: Ticket Sales and Media (4-5 weeks out): Self-explanatory but get advertisements out and sell tickets. Also, meet with your venue and caterer for menu specifics.
  • Phase 5: Week of the Event – Day of the Event: Practice, decorate, perform.
  • Phase 6: After the Event (the week after): Take a break and send out thank yous.

Another large aspect of event planning that I never thought about was planning for the unexpected. Always have contingency plans in place for whatever might go wrong. If the catering truck loses power or if the venue’s ballroom floods, it’s important to have a backup plan.

Though the workshop was only two days, it was a great learning experience and I’m hoping to implement what I’ve learned in my future career wherever I might end up.

Stay tuned for the results of my own event come Week 10 of my last term of college.

Also, stay tuned for my next crash course: Public Relations Portfolios.




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