Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Special Event Planning - Develop Your Master Plan

By Heidi Richards Mooney

Photo from: inc.com

"The master plan is the plan you create to ensure you have covered your bases when planning your event. Doing so will increase your chances of having a wildly successful outcome, leading to more referrals, happy clients and more sales." Heidi Richards Mooney

Want to have a kick-butt event that people will remember and talk about to their friends? All you need is a plan and people committed to following it! I have hosted and co-hosted hundreds of events for my business and nonprofits alike. The ones that were the biggest success followed a few simple principles each and every time.

Here they are:

Create your checklist. A checklist provides an organized roadmap to executing your event. What resources will you need, donations, people, money? -- A sample checklist is included below.

Create a Timeline! This should be a part of the checklist and is perhaps the most important component of the document that will ensure the success of your event. The timeline should include items such as when programs are printed, when invitations/brochures should be printed and mailed, when to start the media or publicity campaign, when to order decorations. It includes registration deadlines. If it has not already been determined, the timeline also includes the location of the event.

Create your budget. This should include all revenue opportunities (registration sales, tickets, donations, sponsorship, concessions). It should also include expenses for printing, lodging, food, supplies, security, speakers, permits, insurance, postage and miscellaneous items yet to be determined.

Think about logistics. They include the size of space needed for the event, setup (tables, chairs, parking, signs, port-a-potty's, tents), cleanup, emergency plans, transportation and the services that are provided by police and fire departments.

Promote the event. What is the major objective of the publicity? Is it to raise awareness or attendance? Is it to build good community relations? If you do not have a media list, it is never too soon to start creating one.

Whom do you know who works for local print, radio and television? Whom do you know who knows someone who does? If it is a local event, drawing on the local community, find out if a local Media Guide or directory is published.

Many newspapers have these resources, and so do many libraries. If it is a national event, look for national media directories for assistance. There are several to choose from. Some of the ones I use are: Gebbie Press All-in-One Directory (1.845.255.7560), Bacon's Media Catalog (1.800.621.0561) and Bradley Communications (1.800.989.1400). These directories are available on disk or books.

Here's a step-by-step checklist to help you organize your event.
___ Select members of the planning team. Include leaders of specific events to be completed by (date).
___ Develop the master plan by (date). This may include the theme, location, etc.
___ Choose the date for the event by (date).
___ Select secondary team leaders (subcommittee chairs) for logistics by (date).
___ Recruit or hire team members for logistics by (date).
___ Create your publicity/media campaign. Alert the media of photo and interview opportunities by (date).
___ Prepare the "copy" for print materials including program, registration forms, tickets, registration/identification badges, ribbons, awards, etc. by (date).
___ Plan the decorations by (date).
___ Develop the schedule of events. Distribute to each person on the team. Review assignments.
___ Determine how registration will be handled and by whom.
___ Create an Emergency Plan in case the event has to be cancelled or postponed.
___ Have a "dress rehearsal" of the event with all responsible parties to review roles and responsibilities of entire team the day before.
___ Have the Event!
___ Mail a copy of the program and thank you letter to sponsors and supporters of the event as soon as possible after the event.
___ Send hand-written thank you notes to your host (employer) and the team you worked with. If possible, include photos.
___ Evaluate the Event.

Want more ideas for having a successful event? Read 21 TIPS for Hosting a Special Event

Heidi Richards Mooney is a Professional Speaker, Business Coach and the Author of 7 books including "Rose Marketing on a Daisy Budget ~ How to Grow Your Business Without Spending a Fortune." She is also the publisher of WE Magazine for Women. Stop by www.speakingwithspirit.com to get a FREE copy of YOUR Marketing Calendar today! 

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