We cannot think of any live event that would not follow a simple four step process to develop it from initial concept through to on the day delivery and subsequent feedback and evaluation.
Creating an event is a journey, beginning at strategy, and ending at evaluation and travelling through the stages of creative content development and production.
The event strategy:
You may be asked to conceptualise the event, or the idea may be passed to you for further development. In either case it must be clear to you and all involved what type of event is being held and why; what is the purpose and objectives to be delivered?
The event can be one of many of the types of activities already outlined, in the previous section, such as a business conference, media event, product launch, seminar, wedding, party, fundraiser or festival, to name just a few of the possibilities.
Event planning is a process that must be undertaken to ensure that the event, which has been decided on, is adequately conceptualised and planned for, and takes you through all the areas and activities that have to be planned, managed and executed to ensure that this is achieved. It is a process that starts with the conceptualisation of the event and continues on through the planning phases where the ideas are formalised into action plans. These plans then have to be executed to ensure the successful staging of the event. This process is integral to effective event management.
There are several aspects to planning an event such as:
- Setting goals and objectives for the event – outlining the goals and objectives that will give focus as to how the event will be planned and executed. The goals and objectives form the basis of plans that would be developed to carry out the event.
- Conceptualising themes and ideas for the event – developing the ideas and themes that will guide the direction and planning for the event.
- Coordination of details, people and resources to ensure that all that is needed for the event and the personnel to carry out the required tasks are all in place.
- Monitoring of budgets and deadlines to keep event costs under control and make sure that the event plans stay on schedule and within budget.
- On-site event management on the day(s) of the event, appointing a site manager where necessary to manage the event site and to oversee preparations for the event.
- Evaluation and follow up after the event has taken place.
These different aspects of planning and managing an event are part of the process that the team at Blackberry Productions work with on most projects we manage. Adhering to robust planning and processes contributes to guaranteeing the development and delivery of highly successful events.
Creating an event is a journey. It begins with the creation of an event strategy, defining the purpose and desired outcomes from the event. The journey moves onto the creative and content development stages before arriving at the penultimate stage, the production and delivery of the event. Last stop is feedback, evaluation and measurement. Was your event a success?
Delivering successful corporate events has a number of core building blocks:
Establishing an effective team is an essential part of creating and delivering a highly successful event. The team will probably comprise people inside and outside the host organisation.
Sub-contractors bring specialist skills and don’t forget no one knows how the venue works better that the venue’s own people so include them in your thinking as part of your team.
It is important to get the leadership role clearly defined. Having one person as a single point of contact ensures everyone in the team knows who to go to for the big decisions. In an agency/client situation there may be two ‘go to’ people, the lead person on the client team and the lead person on the agency team. It is vital that these two people develop a strong working relationship.
The choice of venue needs to fulfil two primary objectives: it must be fit for the purpose of the event and it must complement the personality of the event being planned.
We were introduced a while back to the concept of the ‘venue voice’. The best example is perhaps a church, cathedral or other place of worship. The venue speaks solemnly, it speaks with a serious voice, it is a place to be respected. Five star Las Vegas hotels similarly speak of fun, excess and wealth. It is important that you choose a venue whose voice is in tune with the messages of your event.
The venue must also be fit for purpose. Adequate space and support facilities for all of the event activities, security and accessibility both in terms of people getting to the venue but also for less able bodied people.
And finally the venue team, do you feel they have an enthusiasm for your event? Will you enjoy working with them? And have you met the people that will be working with you and your team on the day?
It is always hugely re-assuring for everyone associated with a live event project, particularly those whose reputation hangs on the event and those that are paying for the event to see a clear project plan that sets out all of the activities, the key dates and project milestones that chart the path from development to delivery.
The complexity of the project should dictate the complexity of the project plan. A relatively simple project on a short lead time may not warrant anything more complex than a one page spreadsheet but there should still be a plan. Highly complex projects with over twelve months lead times may require a bespoke project planning systems using specific project management software. We do however believe that caution should be exercised in ensuring that management of the project plan doesn’t become a time consuming activity than managing the event.
The budget for the event should be prepared and this will be used as a guide as you proceed through the event. The budget will be updated as you go through the preparations for the event as costs are realised and as you get closer to the event, the budget will start to accurately reflect the true cost of staging the event and the levels of projected revenue from the event. After the event is finished a final update of the budget, the financial reconciliation, will show an accurate financial picture of the event after all the costs and income has been tabulated.
It is true that a budget will always be wrong. A good budget however will remain reasonably accurate as the project develops and with regular updates and with explanations for the changes, will work in harmony with the project plan to create confidence that the project is under control.
Feedback and evaluation is the final stop on the project lifecycle. Wherever possible arrange a project wash up meeting. Discuss the evaluation, identify lessons learned and celebrate your success. This is important for agencies where this meeting represents an opportunity to meet with your client after the stresses and strains of delivering the project are over and creates an opportunity to start thinking about the next project.