In a 2015 LinkedIn article, public relations pro Erika Turan transparently wrote about several special events fails she has experienced and what they taught her.
One of her examples was a public event for a hospital service that seemed to be coming together beautifully until the coordinator Turan was working with provided an incorrect number for call-in registrations. No one caught the mistake until the phone number was printed on event invitations and would-be event attendees started using it. A wrong number is one thing, but it turns out that the particular number they printed happened to belong to an adult entertainment hotline.
Just reading about this gives me sympathy stress for everyone involved.
Duran said that incident forever cemented in her mind the importance of having someone, ideally, someone unrelated to the project, double-check numbers, emails, and website addresses before mailing or publishing them.
I agree and applaud Duran for sharing her experience so others can learn from it.
I would add that mishaps like that are just the kind of thing event communication plans can help prevent.
Planning your communication with the people involved in delivering an event, and those who will be attending it, is a great strategy for keeping everyone on the same page and identifying potential miscommunications before they happen.
Event Communication Plans 101
Event communication plans are similar to event plans, but with a focus on disseminating information. They can focus on marketing and PR: your “what, when, where, and how’ for getting your event messaging out. But they also can include strategies for communicating with event planning team members, clients, service providers, speakers, and performers.
However you approach it, an event communication plan is meant to be a tool that helps you do your job more effectively.
Start with the Who
I suggest beginning your plan by asking yourself who you’ll need to communicate with before, during, and after your event and creating a list.
Then, focus on each person, organization, or business you’ve listed and identify your communication goals for them. Do you want to make sure the band you’ve hired is aware of the event venue’s policies for bringing in equipment? Will you need to keep your client up-to-date on your planning progress and be accessible for their questions? Do you need to develop and implement a social media campaign to attract attendees? Do you want to make sure team members’ tasks haven’t fallen through the cracks?
Once you know what you want to achieve, communications-wise, you can start developing a budget, timeline, and strategies for carrying out your objectives.
More Details to Gather and Share
In addition to the examples above, you may need to make plans to communicate the following:
Location details: Address, parking information, entrances, transportation options, area construction or road closures, and toll roads.
Communication channels: Phone numbers, emails, websites, messaging apps, meeting apps, social media, and event apps.
What ifs: Your contingencies for severe weather, cancellations, and emergencies; plans for communicating changes in plans; and team member assignments.
Event details: The people getting the word out about your event will need speaker and entertainer names, bios, images, and videos (if possible). They’ll need to know about vendors, exhibits, demonstrations, scheduled activities, and other relevant elements.
Food and drink details: If attendees are spending a significant amount of time at your event, they’ll want to know what kind of food and beverages will be available. They’ll also appreciate options to request alternatives if they have allergies or dietary restrictions.
Dress: If you want team members, entertainers, or anyone else involved to dress a certain way at the event, be sure to provide clear information well in advance.
Naturally, communicating with the people you hope to attract to your event is a major goal. Depending on the size of your event and your budget, your event communication planning might incorporate your approach to invitations, an event website or landing page, advertising, publicity, social media, and e-blasts.
Your plan should take a detailed look at every tool you’ll be using to bring people to your event. If you’ll be distributing invitations, for example, you’ll need to establish a time frame for sending them (ideally, two months in advance). You’ll need to decide who will be responsible for invitation wording — along with proofreading and double-checking details — appearance, approval, distribution, confirmations, and reminders.
If you plan to have an online event registration site, you’ll need to follow a similar process: establishing a time frame and delegating team members to handle content writing and editing, design, site approval, publishing the site, monitoring registrations, and addressing questions or tech glitches.
Every strategy you use to draw people to your event, from introducing a unique hashtag to pitching articles to the media, will require detailed planning, delegation, a timeline, and a means of ensuring open, back-and-forth communication to make sure the plan is moving forward and everyone is on the same page.
And as Turan would tell you, keeping communication flowing and making sure everyone is on the same page is well worth the time and effort.
About the Author:
Roger Igo is the founder and CEO of special events venue, The Bell Tower on 34th, which delivers weddings and corporate events. He is the author of “Keep On Going, The History of The Bell Tower on 34th,” a former radio host, a graduate of CEO Space International, and an alumnus of The Disney Institute.