Tag Archives: Events

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Regardless of your profession, planning is mandatory for success. From surgeons to PR professionals, failing to plan will promise to give you a wealth of headaches.

I experienced one of these such headaches last week when it was 4 p.m. on a Friday and we didn’t have space for an event that was less than two weeks away. Backup plans and analyzing risk should be part of your routine when planning out schedules, events and pretty much anything else. Here are my tips when preparing for a presentation, meeting or whatever your need might be.

  • Write down any and all things that could go wrong. When I was an account executive at PRowl Public Relations, anytime we had an event, we listed out everything that could go wrong and what we would do if it did. This ensured that each member of the team was prepared to handle any unexpected challenges.
  • Have communications ready in case all of things that could go wrong actually do. Sometimes things happen in an instance and you need to fire off communications to target audiences immediately. Having these already drafted and patiently waiting in a Word document will save you the time.
  • Do your homework. If you’re presenting at a meeting, know the target audience and what questions they might ask. Also, do not read off a piece of paper, it’s not professional.  If you’re planning an event, know all the venue and hotel options in case your preferred venue cancels.
  • Hold a debrief after the meeting or event concludes. If you presented at a meeting, ask the audience for feedback and evaluate yourself too. Post event debriefs are pretty much essential so the team can evaluate its success and see what they could improve upon in the future.

Regardless of your profession, planning needs to be ingrained into your brain to guarantee success. As part of this, you should be organized, keep a calendar and communicate clearly. My friend and mentor, Jason Mollica, provides more planning tips here on his video blog.

What tips do you have when it comes to planning? How has it impacted your profession? Please share your ideas!

 

A Knowledge-Filled Saturday

As a young professional, I am always looking for ways to expand my knowledge and grow my industry expertise. This is occasionally challenging because I do not work within public relations. While I love my current job, I still want to maintain a breath of public relations knowledge and keep up-to-date on industry trends.

The schedule for the day!

The schedule for the day!

Luckily for me, I was invited back to Temple University this past weekend for the TU Invitational hosted by Temple PRSSA, one of my former student organizations. While the event was for students, I am so glad I attended. There were four speakers, each with a different PR specialty. Below are the “quick tips” I learned from each.

  • Cassandra Bailey from Slice Communications was the keynote speaker. You couldn’t have picked anyone better to kick-off an event! Cass was energetic, passionate and real. My biggest takeaway from her presentation was to break the process and be different. You shouldn’t change yourself to fit within a role or company. People want someone authentic, interesting and who challenges the norm. I adored her ideas and hearing that being different is a positive when hiring people.
  • I then went to Jessica Lawlor’s breakout session about personal branding and blogging. I read Jess’ blog religiously and worked with her during our PRSSA days at Temple, so I was really pumped for her session. Jess managed to pack so much info into her session without overwhelming us. She walked through various social media sites, outlining what essentials we should focus on to help build our personal brand. I was also beyond thrilled to hear the you don’t need to have a niche blog to be successful. I like to write about a lot of topics and according to Jess, that’s a good thing, as long as you are providing useful, fresh content. Overall, it was an awesome session and now I have a ton of ideas for my social media profiles and my blog!
  • After lunch, Steve Cameron from Air Products spoke to the group about a variety of topics. Steve has been in his role for several years so it was interesting to hear his perspective on how the industry has changed. Obviously, social media is the biggest advancement for PR professionals. Steve presented a social media decision tree for both personal and business use. This visual was so helpful in articulating the questions that need to be asked when figuring out how a company can utilize social media. The personal portion of the tree provided insights on the company’s social media policy; much easier to read than several convoluted paragraphs!
  • Our final speaker was Scott Tattar from LevLane, a PR agency in Philadelphia. Scott spoke about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and how it is now an essential for companies. CSR is the bottom line and should serve as a marketing tool. I found it interesting and refreshing to hear his insights because not all companies think like that. A good CSR program is focused, so even if you are a large corporation, you shouldn’t support a million charities. It also empowers the customer (or employee) to do something rather than to just write a check. Lastly, it should be in line with the company’s mission. For example, Coca Cola should not back a cause like childhood obesity since their product is soda. Scott’s session was my favorite of the day because it was a topic not addressed frequently.
All of the PRSSA alum with the chapter president.

All of the PRSSA alum with the chapter president.

We all went and celebrated a successful event after it was over. I was so proud of my former student organization for putting on a great event where I learned so much. My day reinforced the importance of continuing to learn even as a professional. Hopefully, I’ll get to go back to next year’s TU Invitational!

Media Mania

I  am not a media relations girl. To me, it’s the hardest part of public relations and an area I didn’t master while in college. Truthfully, I don’t think any novice is in love with media relations. Practice really does make perfect with this aspect of PR.

WWA Volunteers!

WWA Volunteers!

Luckily for me, I was able to practice these skills this past weekend while volunteering at the Wawa Welcome America Festival in Philadelphia. I’ve worked media areas before but hadn’t in a while so I very much appreciated the opportunity to brush up on these skills

After my experience, here are a few things I learned when working with the media.

  • Prep work saves lives: I was not directly involved in the pitching efforts for the festival. However, their PR team clearly was prepared, with releases printed and available for media at all events.  I could only assume their efforts paid off since there was an abundance and variety of media present. There was also a list of approved freelancers and outlets, a vital document that all media areas should have.
  • Put yourself in their shoes: Test out shots from various locations at your event beforehand. Is there anything in the way? Can reporters move from one area to another easily?
  • ID please: Not just anyone is allowed in the media area. It’s essential that only media with credentials come into the designated area to check in. Typically, big events give out their own specific credentials or press passes at this time. Folks who belong at said events are usually very willing to show you their media identification. It’s the ones who have no clue what you’re talking about or reference a celebrity that should concern you.
  • Playing security: You might have to help photographers and camera people get their desired shot. Be ready to hold things, block off areas and gently remove unwanted objects or people from shots
  • Under pressure: Do not cave! Random people will want to come into the media area. Others will be unapproved media who will beg to get in. Don’t let the pressure get to you. Be politely militant.

I had an awesome time volunteering with the Wawa Welcome America Festival last weekend. It was the perfect refresher I needed for working with the media. Have you worked media areas? Any tips to add to my list?

Motivation Mondays: Knowing Your Limits

This holiday weekend, I headed down to Philadelphia for the Wawa Welcome America Festival. This week-long extravaganza offers free events to people in and around the city. I was super excited to spend my 4th of July weekend celebrating and helping my friend (who works on the festival) put on successful events throughout the week.

A group of us who attended Temple together rolled up our sleeves to help our friend this weekend. It’s safe to say everyone involved is exhausted and is struggling at work today. However, I also think each of us learned a lot this weekend about working large-scale events and balancing our newly found careers with our personal lives.

I’ve talked about work-life balance before because I’ve experienced the struggle firsthand. This weekend, I watched one of my best friends go through the same struggle, without any balance at all. You saw how passionate she was about succeeding, about having successful event after successful event. I also saw what went on afterwards: an exhausted 23 year-old who didn’t know what day of the week it was. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

It’s true, at times, we must drop everything and put our job first. I can sympathize as I too have worked long hours on little sleep to make sure my events were successful. Anyone who has their career as a top priority knows this feeling. As young professionals just starting out, most of us feel like we have to prove ourselves. The majority of us are still at our first job, trying to show our supervisors, co-workers, parents and friends that we are more than capable. But, at a certain point, we have to know our limits.

As young professionals, we find it hard to say no because it shows weaknesses; it shows we can’t handle it all. Here’s a hint everyone: not a single person can handle everything all the time. We must learn to advocate for ourselves and tell our supervisors or co-workers or even family members when we’ve hit our breaking point. If we don’t share with those around us what is going on internally, then how could they know we’re hit our max?

The next time you have too much on your plate, make sure to speak up and ask for help. Everyone has their personally defined limits that should be shared with others. Also, make sure you aren’t trying to control others and set their limits for them. I am so proud of my friend and all she accomplished this weekend and am so glad I was there to experience it with her.

On-Site Adventures

After my first business trip to California, I wrote about how a large-scale event goes off without any issues. Most of it is thanks to planning. But what happens when you get on-site? How do you as a team member make it the best possible experience for all those involved?

Large-scale events like conferences or milestone programs typically have several moving parts. There are  a lot of people to manage, rooms to inspect for issues, goals to achieve and problems to solve. As an on-site team member, your role is to help ensure things run smoothly. After being on-site three times now, here are some things I do to make sure our program is a success.

  • Print your schedule: I have a copy of my schedule printed before I leave for the trip. Each morning, I put that day’s schedule in my pocket so I always have it as a reference. There is also an extra copy printed in my folder that stays in our team office. 
  • Know it cold: You should read your schedule beforehand and check with its creator if you have any questions. Doing a quick site visit prior to the program’s start is also a good idea so you know where each room/location is.
  • Conserve energy: This one is probably the hardest while on-site. The days are long and you need to be giving each minute your absolute best. However, you should take time for yourself, to renew your energy (another post to follow on this concept!) and to check in back home. Find a ritual that helps you recharge your batteries. It could be a quick run or a Skype session with your kids. Whatever works!
  • Dress for success: As silly as this sounds, your mood will be more positive if you are comfortable and dressed nicely. Make sure you know the dress code before heading to your destination. No one wants to be under dressed and without other clothing options.
  • Smile: When something goes wrong or you don’t know an answer to a question, keep a smile on your face. This way, the person you’re helping will not panic and neither will you. If you forget something or make a mistake, don’t let it get to you. Stay as positive as possible and don’t let one issue ruin an entire program.

These are some of my personal tips while on-site at a program. I always try to make the most of the opportunity I’ve been given to participate in such an awesome program. How do you stay focused and efficient during on-site events. Let me know!

The Blurred Line

Having about six months of work experience under my belt, I’ve gotten to attend a handful of professional events. Most were conferences at hotels that lasted several days. The atmosphere at these conferences can be more relaxed than when working in the office. This environment coupled with the prospect of free alcohol, causal dress and music can be a bit dangerous.

Most people understand that they are at a work function and maintain a level of professionalism. But after attending some of these events, it’s easy to see how the line between personal and professional can be blurred quite quickly. I’ve met some amazing individuals while working and connected with them on both a personal and professional level. While I do consider some of them friends and sounding boards, there is still a line I’m not willing to cross like at a work event.

cross_lineIn my opinion, drinking helps to cloud your judgement and make you forget that you are actually at work with colleagues and superiors. However, alcohol consumption is not the only way to cross the personal/professional line. Over-sharing personal information, using foul language and busting an inappropriate dance move can all contribute to a loss in credibility. As a younger professional, that is the last thing I want to do. But I’ll admit, it was hard in California to remember I was working and not on vacation. We were at a great location, in casual clothing and had the opportunity to relax after working all day. One could easily get caught up in all of that.

Based off my experience at these conferences, here are a few tips I thought of to maintain the personal/professional balance:

1. If you drink, know your limits. I’m a fan of alternating: one drink then one glass of water.Work Husband

2. Dress causal but still appropriately. No ripped jeans or cut-offs. If your grandmother would be embarrassed seeing you in a certain outfit, don’t wear it.

3. If you want to have a personal conversation, do it away from the rest of the team and more importantly, away from attendees.

4. Schedule time outside of work to meet and catch up with work friends. It will be more fun that way!

When working onsite events, it is especially easy to unwind too much and forget you’re at work. No one is saying don’t build friendships at work or celebrate with your work friends. But there is a time and a place for that. A work event is about the attendees, not the onsite team. I’m grateful that my team set high standards onsite this past week. It absolutely helped me maintain my professionalism.

The Devil’s in the Details

Four days. 400 participants. Over 40 facilitators. A dozen different locations on one giant property. Countless amounts of materials. Chaos could easily ensue.

All of the statements above were true aspects of the event I worked in California last week. It was a mega event with lots of components. Now, I’ve worked events before but nothing like this. It was unreal how my team operated like a fine-oiled machine. Literally, everyone knew where they were supposed to be, what was going on and what was happening next. How does such a large-scale event go off without any real catastrophes? Here’s my take on that answer.

  • Prep Work: Before anyone stepped foot on the beautiful grounds in California, we reviewed a lifesaving document that broke down the week day by day. Each day listed the sessions occurring, who was in charge, who was helping, the materials needed, the location and the time frame. This thing was the Bible for the week. If you had a question, you just checked the spreadsheet to find the answer. No need to bother anyone else. It was the main reason why our team functioned so well.
  • Plans on Plans on Plans: There was a contingency plan for technology issues, weather issues and anything else you can think of. We even had ponchos for every participant ready to go in case the skies opened up. Every ‘what if’ situation was considered and possible solutions were evaluated all before the event took place. A detailed crisis communications plan was sent to the entire team the week before as well. Everyone was familiar with protocol and knew what steps to take in specific situations.
  • Devil’s in the Details: The attention to detail was evident in every aspect of the program. From the type of seating at open session, to the layout of each dinner, everything was intentional and was thought about beforehand. It was also clear who the target audience was throughout the program. You knew you were dealing with millennials based off of songs played, topics discussed and games selected. In my opinion, this was the most crucial part of why the program was/is successful. Conscious decisions were made in order to deliver the best possible program for attendees. Without every detail, small or large, the experience would not be the same.
  • Common Purpose: Our entire team, internal and external members, believed in the goals of the event. Each member was passionate about executing a meaningful program that would impact participants. That passionate was contagious and kept everyone motivated and energized.

I am so fortunate to have worked on such a giant event this early in my career. There were so many things I learned; the above list is just the most important. What do you think makes large-scale events successful? Add to my list!

Of Undisputed Origin

Life Advice from Brilliant Minds

Filter, Please!

Confessions, Ramblings of a Blunt Chick

ChickpeaCards

Handcrafted custom made paper goods

Chit Chat Tracker

Keeping You In Touch, One Story At A Time!

Pint-sized Girl in the Big World

Daily musings from across the pond

Kerry Patricia Creations

Film. Photography. Life.

Unwritten

Fashion & Lifestyle Destination For Millennials

The Official Blog of PPRA

Inspiring Excellence in Public Relations

today was meaningful

a collection of thoughts, life lessons, and days full of meaning.

United We Eat

all for the love of food

Temple PRSSA

The Temple University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America

Jade & The City

Dreaming & scheming my way through the city

Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog is a digital youth culture magazine dedicated to your stories and ideas.

Social is a Lifestyle

Love what you do. Do what you love.

Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

PRactical Politics

A place to share my opinions and thoughts about all things public relations & politics. Look out for the occasional travel post as well!

One Guy's Journey

A place to talk about life, career, and everything in between...

Bake Sales and Boot Camp

Surviving one cupcake at a time!

Confessions of a PR Graduate

Documenting my post-grad journey