By Cheyenne Myers
After 8+ years working in PR and events, there are some gems of advice I wish I knew when starting out in the industry.
Although you cannot put a price on experience, these tips will have you well on your way to achieve a highly rewarding ‘post-event high’.
PLANNING IS KEY
This goes without saying, I know. However, a well-planned event leaves you cool, calm and collected for when things don’t go your way on event day.
Start with a critical path outlining EVERY. SINGLE. LIL. THING. Don’t only do this for pre-planning phases, but during and post too. Not only the task itself, but who is responsible for making it happen, signing it off, when, where, how?
‘WALK’ THE EVENT
I find it helps to mentally and physically run through the event from a guest AND a client/brand point of view.
If people are arriving from a certain angle, is it a good first impression? Can they see the branded signage clearly? Where are people likely to take photos, is the lighting good? Is the catering looking good for ‘the Gram’? Are the bathrooms tidy and stocked?
Same goes for bump in and out. Critical thinking pre-event can help save you stress, time and hiccups. Don’t overlook them, it all counts.
Sometimes if you have been really close to an event, it helps to get clear eyes and ears externally too.
YOUR RUN SHEET IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
A run sheet is a document that outlines each occurrence for an event (including set up and pack down) in time order, allocated responsibility and key contact information. Make this super detailed and use it on the day as your bible.
My first ever boss in event management was known for the CRAZY detail in his run sheets and I still thank him every day! Down to ‘10:02am – check everyone has a run sheet’.
It included things like ‘Check on x and give a 5 minute warning’ (trust me, you never know who needs a bathroom break or goes MIA when you need them urgently).
You often can’t help if talent are late, or a supplier doesn’t show up. However, it is important you know they are, so you can fix it. Stat.
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THINK ON YOUR FEET
Talent run late or cancels, transport shuts down (and you have 200+ guests waiting in heels and ball gowns – yep, that happened) or your big-name guest has pulled the pin.
You need to think on your feet (quickly), update the relevant team and think of a solution. It’s important to be honest and timely but try not to hand someone a problem without some sort of solution. Provide some options along with your recommendation and why.
You need 1000 gift bags packed and don’t have the manpower? Call some friends or search Airtasker. Missing a photographer? Call some agencies or get your team together for a brainstorm. Media wall falls down and is ruined? Ask your florist for a quick cover up!
Brainstorm with those around you whether that be your direct team or suppliers. It’s a small industry and they have a wealth of experience. Everyone wants the event to be a success, so team work makes the dream work (sorry for the cliché).
SMILE, even when you want to cry.
Looking alarmed or stressed whilst running an event sets a bad vibe that guests, talent and your client feed off. So, learn to smile. Even through gritted teeth.
You might have to fake it. You might be dying inside. BUT most of the time your bad energy can draw attention to something that:
- No one even notices or
- Can easily be solved
In the case that it’s neither of those things, try being understanding and apologetic – even when it’s out of your control.
4 MAGIC WORDS – ‘WHAT CAN I DO?’
Whether you are reporting to a client, or you’re an intern on site for an extra set of hands, I cannot express the value of proactiveness and initiative. If you ever find yourself standing still at an event, don’t.
Tidy gift bags, lend a hand to suppliers, adjust the chairs, help take some photos of guests. You can always be doing something!
For those starting out in this career, I recommend putting your hand up for as much event experience as possible. We love an eager beaver at AMPR. So, if you’re putting up your hand without being asked then hello, we love you.
DO YOUR STALKING RESEARCH
Just like that scene in the Devil Wears Prada – know your guests, what their title is and who they work for. It also doesn’t hurt to ask around on the pronunciation for VIP guests or talent so you’re not left red faced when introducing them to a room.
PICK YOUR TALENT WISELY
Key talent or host alignment is key, does your host or special guest resonate with your brand? Have they worked with competitors recently? What value will they add? People buy into brands and what they are about, so think through what (and who) you’re selling.
SHARE YOUR SUCCESS
We’re all in this together and you didn’t do this solo.
Make sure you thank and celebrate success with everyone involved – your client, your team, the venue, security, florist etc. Send them a thank you and share any guest or client feedback. It will make their day and build a strong relationship in this small industry of ours! It also doesn’t hurt to share photos so they can celebrate the event on social media.
GET YOUR TECH PREPPED
Events are only drainers when your batteries are, so come with fully charged phones, iPads, portable chargers and wall chargers.
Plus save all suppliers and key guest contacts in your phone. It makes it quick and easy on event day if you need anything or if someone is trying to get a hold of you.
Also set up a WhatsApp or group message to communicate on the ground efficiently so you all know what’s going down.
ENGAGE WITH GUESTS
We are in PR after all.
If it doesn’t come naturally to you and you’re nervous striking up a conversation, the worst thing you can do is hide in the corner. Just bite the bullet because it will only get easier the more you throw yourself into conversation.
It can be uncomfortable at first but you’ll also surprise yourself. It’s a huge part of the job, so you might need to set a personal goal at first to get some confidence. Aim to speak to 5 new people and introduce yourself confidently.
Having some questions prepared can help ease the nerves, plus you’ll likely be following (or if not, you should) media, VIP’s, influencers on social media. Having a bit of background can kick off a great convo (and what could be, a lifelong career connection).
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We hope you had a lovely time in Europe @alexandrakatebateman but we are ready to have you back at @ampr_group now! ✈️ Have a safe flight home. #Repost and throwback to @alexandrakatebateman having a fan girl moment with the ultimate girl boss 💥 @drewbarrymore for the launch of @flowerbeauty into @chemistwarehouseaus #flowerbeauty #flowerbydrew #flowerbeautyaustralia
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TRY TO PLAN, THE UNPLANNED
Try to plan for road bumps. Wet weather? Who makes the call? What actions are needed?
How about the HOT weather plan? Air con, shade, loads of water, misting fans? Do you need to move indoors? Are there safety concerns?
Prompt yourselves with these questions from the start so they are in the back of your mind throughout all stages of planning.
And finally, reflect
Of course, celebrate your success but it’s important to be critical so you and your team can learn and grow.
Debrief with your team immediately following the event if you can so it’s nice and fresh. Big or small.