Notes from an event planning lecture

Towards the end of the fall school term (at the University of Oregon), our PRSSA chapter hosted a panel of UO Journalism school event planners to talk about their experiences and what it takes to be a successful event planner. Here are some of my notes on the lecture and how I think they relate to me:

Event Planning Notes:

1. Budget — The budget may be the most important thing to keep in mind when planning out an event. At the lecture I attended, the speaker said that the budget was the first thing she looked at when planning an event. It is imperative that  as event planners, we look for ways to keep costs low. What items can we get donated? Who are we targeting, and what are the most cost-effective ways to target them? For my organization, another big ‘budget question’ is this: Who can we target for fund-raising?

Sometimes, it can be intimidating to ask for handouts for an event, but I’m always surprised at what people do to help out an event if I just ask.

2. RSVP — Knowing how many people and (maybe even more importantly) who is coming to my event as far in advance as possible helps me gauge what type of food, decorations and entertainment I need and how much of it I need.

For me, this is not always possible. Tickets for my event never go on sale until a week before our event starts, and most of the faculty attending our event are not sure if they can make it until the last minute. So, my strategy is to assume that I am going to sell all 600 seats at our event and that everyone that we invite is coming.

This can be a strain on the budget, but in situations where I do no know for sure who is coming and who is not, I find it is always better to be over prepared than under prepared.

3. Plan B — When I first started doing public relations for the International Student Association, my biggest pitfall was that I would not have a back-up plan just in case something did not work out as planned. As I am quickly finding out, event planning requires me to have a ‘Plan B’ because things will go wrong. People that I book for entertainment cancel their plans, food that I have ordered does not arrived and I always have some sort of public relations crisis.

But when I have a plan for when things do not work out as expected, it is easy for for me to jump from one plan to the next.

One thing that I’m curious about is this: What other things should I keep in mind while planning an event?

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