Planning an event can be stressful. Many times finding a place to start is the hardest part. First you need a goal. What do you want your event to accomplish? Do you want to showcase something, reach a new audience, reward someone, fundraise or something else?

With this in mind, you will need to make a list of all the things you will need for your event. I recommend using an excel spread sheet to make an easy to follow chart. The first column should consist of the items and/or tasks that you need to execute your event. Next, add how many of each item or task need to be completed. One column should have a deadline, one that gives you a cushion of time, for you to have an item collected or a task completed. Then you should make a note of how much each of these items or tasks will cost. Finally, add the point of contact (POC) for each item or task. Don’t forget to leave a few extra columns for notes and to track your progress.

Your first step is to either decide a date, venue or speaker. Choose whichever is the most important to your purpose and begin there.

The date and time should correspond with your audience. If most of your audience works during the week 9-5, then you might want to host your event after six or seven o’clock on a Saturday. The time may also conflict with the venue, so give yourself a few options when booking a time and place.

The venue needs to be able to hold the guests you want to invite; however, you should be cautious of rooms too large. Rooms that are too large can be hard to fill and might make your event look unsuccessful.

Budget is an important step that should be addressed at the beginning of your planning, at least briefly before making any big decisions. Before finalizing the budget, be realistic about what things will cost and how professional you want your event to be.

If you don’t have the money or budget to host the kind of even you’d like, then look to sponsors for help. Sponsors can relate to your theme, business or can be unrelated. Be sure to reach out to sponsors after you have a budget in mind and be reasonable about the amount you ask for.

After the venue and speaker are all set and any sponsors are confirmed, you can determine how many people you can invite. Look at how many your venue can hold and how much money you have allocated for food to help you decide on who to invite. You can invite people through Facebook, email, phone call or the mail. If you choose to call or mail your invites then make sure you have enough time to reach each person and get a response.

In the weeks leading up to your event, check your chart and make sure everything has been completed. Call your sponsors, guests and speakers to confirm the participation. With the guest list finalized, create name tags and check-in lists for the final event.

Your second to last step is to execute the event. The final step includes thanking your participants and following up. Send thank you notes to everyone who participated or helped you, and ask them for feedback.

Planning events is not easy and the time leading up to them flies. However, you don’t have to do it alone. Grab your friends and colleagues and delegate tasks for them to help you out.

Most of all, try to have fun and make it fun for others.


   



If a picture speaks a thousand words, how about a TV appearance? Appearing on screen will boost a company’s image tenfold. Being seen on television creates a sense of credibility and power that cannot be established on any other platform. But, how do you land a spot on televised?

As a beginner, you have to start out small. It is almost impossible to secure a televised interview without connections and previous experience. First, you need to attract the attention of reporters. The best way to grab the attention of journalists is to connect your topic to a current trend. Finding some way to attach yourself to a popular current topic automatically increases a company’s credibility. Topics that never go out of style are fast services, affordable services, online technology, and personalized experiences.

Journalists receive hundreds of submissions each day. If a company wants its story to stand out, it must be unique. Every company claims their product is the best that was ever made and that it is going to shut down the market. These shallow claims are not credible. There needs to be proof. A company’s pitch should be flooded with examples and testimonials backing up it’s claims. Journalists are intrigued by stories of new businesses, product launches, partnerships, and recently announced corporate goals.

Another trick to elevating the chances of scoring an interview is having an interesting story. Second to the product, an alluring background story is most important for catching the eye of a reporter. The story of how a company began with a man sailing 10,000 miles around the globe to find the perfect tomato to make his pizza sauce will peak the interest of a lot of people. Once you have their interest, you are in.

Finally, to catch an interviewer’s attention companies may extend to them a special offer. A company may provide a journalist an exclusive interview or insider details. However, it is extremely important not to give a lot of reporters these opportunities. If a group of journalists find out they all have been given the same opportunity for exclusionary details, a company will gain a negative reputation.

Once a company has established itself with journalists, it is time to branch out into local television and begin your adventure to the top. Attempting to appear on local news channels is an excellent way to begin a television appearance career. Local news stations often prefer to use companies from the surrounding area, where there is less struggle over airtime. Even better, local station viewership is on the rise while national news viewership is tumbling down.

Advertising yourself as an expert in a specific field or topic will make you more marketable for televised interviews. If you are the owner of a grocery store, you could label yourself an expert on health issues and produce production. Then, if a giant rainstorm comes and damages hundreds of acres of crops, journalists will look to you for insight on the situation.

Developing preexisting relationships with the media before attempting to make a television debut is beneficial. A helpful way to establish these unions is research. Investigate certain reporters, get an understanding of what they typically cover, and how they cover their stories. Keep what you have learned in mind when pitching your own story to the media. Your pitch should include how your story relates to their interest, why it is important, and should include lots of substance – no filler or fluff.

After you confirm a spot, it is necessary to consider who will be your company spokesperson. It does not have to be the CEO or marketing specialist. The best way to decide who will deliver your message is to simply observe. Who talks the most at roundtables, who is popular on social media, who knows a lot of trivia facts, who thoroughly enjoys their job. These are all exceptional aspects to examine when searching for a spokesperson.

How a person is in the office and online are great indicators of how they will perform in front of the camera. Monitoring what they say and how they say it will give you excellent insight into how they will perform. If they are good storytellers during lunch and grab everyone’s attention, on air should be no different.

Once you have chosen your spokesperson, it is time to practice. It is useful to know that on air, responses should not last any longer than 12 seconds. Leading up to your appearance your social media team should be on top of their game. Your entire fan base and clients should be aware that you are going to be on TV. But, do not release any details of what will be discussed. One, it will make people curious. Two, your goal is not to attract the most viewers, but to build credibility with your clients.

Before your segment is filmed, request a copy. News stations hate when asked for footage during or after a taping. The footage requested should be posted everywhere. Not every news station posts their interviews online, and even if they do, it will be gone into the internet abyss within a couple of days. All segments collected should be compiled in one folder on a company computer for later use.

Since the goal of your interview is to build the reliability of your brand, an employee should do a screenshot of the interview. A flattering and professional picture should be taken while the speaker is in speaking in front of the new station logo. Later, this picture should be applied to all social media accounts as the profile picture.

After the first interview, a company will have gained notoriety and established a relationship with journalists and news stations, hopefully beginning a long lasting connection.

   



The marketing departments of several big universities were recently asked what the goals were in recently launched social media campaigns. The three most common answers were to raise awareness, attract more students, and to strengthen the school’s reputation. How each university launches its message varies greatly. Some have embraced technology more than others. Being well versed in technology aids in relating to the 18-24 year old demographic most colleges are hoping to reach.

100% of all colleges in the United States are on at least one social media platform. Social media is the best way to organically bring together community, administration, and  students. There are some universities that have multiple accounts on one forum. An example would be Columbia University. Columbia has its main Columbia University Twitter page where general information is posted, then there are individual Twitter accounts for each department: business, science, admissions, etc.

When a university has multiple accounts under its name, it is important to implement university wide guidelines. It is worthwhile for each account to be unique and creative, but there are lines that cannot be crossed in order to maintain a sense of professionalism and uniformity. It is wise to hold university wide social media conferences.

These meetings allow account administrators to coordinate and construct posts in-sync. It is smart for universities to have a constant theme. A good idea is to always keep the university's mission statement in mind when posting. Picking three words from the mission statement to incorporate in every message help create a sense of unity.

The key to each department gaining the most followers is to be distinctive. There has to be a reason to follow that account aside from membership. A university cannot post the same press release on every account and hope for popularity. If every account does post about the same topic, each should put its own spin on the story.

Having its own account allows a department to showcase its capabilities, achievements, and expertise. Online is the perfect place to display awards, recognitions, events, and projects. Posting online allows users to promote before, during, and after an event. These individual accounts can be great resources for journalists.

When a school joins social media, it is important for posters to ask themselves: one, what do we want to achieve?; two, who are we targeting?; three, how should we measure our campaign’s progress and success?; and, fpur, how will be encourage interaction? A majority of students do not receive their news from the press, they discover announcements through social media. Since students rely heavily on social media, it is important that universities are proficient in utilizing them.

Having well formatted social media accounts can do a lot for a school. It can create interest, promote events, and make life easier for students and staff. Stanford University recently released iStanford. iStanford is an app for Stanford students that allows them to register for classes, read campus news, and access campus maps, plus more. Through iStanford, administrators can also post messages, notices, and warnings in seconds for the entire Stanford family to see.

In case of a disaster, having a well functioning social media system can save lives. In the event of a terror threat, a warning could be sent momentarily, alerting all students about what to do and where to go to stay safe. The internet is an excellent form of emergency contact.

After a public relations disaster such as a teacher-student sex scandal or a corruption sting, there are several procedures a school should put in place. First, encourage students not to leak any information. Second, advise staff where to redirect journalists and how to spot a journalist. Sometimes writers will pose as someone else to extract information from unsuspecting staff members. Also, if anyone would like to give a quote, it should be anonymous. “Individuals are considered innocent until proved guilty under our justice system; the media is not.”

Just like any other situation, it is critical how a school responds through social media. Schools need to project an image of caring. Students need to see that their administrators care about students beyond their wallets. Posts should extend farther than registration reminders. Stories about good things happening on campus are always quality material. When posting, quality should always win over quantity.

A school’s best public relations tool is the students and faculty themselves. Word of mouth is the best and most trusted form of marketing. A positive review from someone who attends the school is worth more than any press release. Students and staff are “an extension of a school’s brand.” Incoming students would trust a student-run blog documenting life at University of Delaware way more than a blog produced by a hired University of Delaware marketer.

How the school responds to students is also important. Three main actions a social media correspondent should take are to engage, listen, and respond. If a lot of time passes between posts, or response times are longer than being put on hold by Comcast, students will forget you. It is okay to not have an answer. However, it is important to still post a message announcing that an update will be released once more information has been gathered.

   


Just as many people expect holiday-themed decorations and events around each holiday, you can expect holiday-themed advertisements and campaigns. Most popular is a Christmas theme. Ads posted in November and December all have a touch of Christmas magic. During the holidays, public relations companies need to flood the media with ads and announcements.

Companies need to capitalize on the thrill of the season. Executives assume that consumers are distracted with the holiday hustle and bustle, but in reality customers are most exposed to advertisements compared with any other time of year. Here are ways public relations companies use the holidays to an advantage:

A year in review. Year-end wrap-ups would be very attractive for current and potential clients. It is helpful for clients to see the progress their company has made throughout the year. The year in review could be sent through video, card, or booklet.

The review allows your company to highlight your company's most recent achievements and promote upcoming events that your company has planned. As the recent surge of franchise reboots has proved, people love nostalgia. Giving clients and employees the opportunity to remember the biggest moments from the year will make all involved feel good about the work done and your partnership with the client.

If the last year was not a great one for your company, year-end wrap-ups are a way to explain yourself. This is a platform to communicate directly with your clients and workers where you went wrong and how you are going to fix the problems. It is better to be upfront with your issues, rather than act as though they do not exist. Once you have explained yourself, you can paint a brighter picture for your future.

Having Christmas Spirit. It is extremely important to capitalize on the season. It is the most wonderful time of the year, and it only happens once a year. The holiday season presents many unique opportunities. Everyone is excited about the season; it helps if your company is, too. Posting themed material and engaging in special activities allows you to remain relevant.

The simplest things can keep you in the loop. The smallest gesture, such as tweeting “Merry Christmas,” can send a message to your clients that you care. Sending a company holiday card can show you care, too. Changing your cover photos and backgrounds on all social media platforms to fit the season can be of great use. For example, DELL turned its simple circular logo into a Christmas ball ornament.

Even though it is was controversial, Starbucks adjusted for the season. The company switched from all white cups to all red cups for the holidays. All press is good press, right? Using holiday hashtags can increase your popularity and chance of customer interaction. Macy’s uses #Macysbelieve to promote its letters to Santa Claus Make-A-Wish Foundation campaign.

Everyone loves presents. Clients are no different. It could be highly beneficial to send out tokens of appreciation for those who support you. Depending on your company, bottles of wine may be appropriate to send to CEOs of some of your larger clients. If you are involved in the retail industry, sending faithful customers special coupons is a good idea. The holiday season is a time of giving. The end of the year is the perfect time to donate. Making charitable donations will better society and improve public opinion.

Preparation. It is easy to assume that during the holiday season customers are less susceptible to advertisements and media. You could not be more wrong. During this time, customers are bombarded with advertisements like no other time of year. Pictures of Santa will be everywhere they go. Christmas carols will be playing in the background everywhere they walk. Buyers will not be able to escape it. This is the time to post and promote as much as possible. This will take lots of planning.

A team will need to be organized months in advance to prepare for the holiday season. This is very common. Planning for the Thanksgiving Day parades begins in early March. Since your pool of reachable people will be so high, the amount of content you have available needs to be high. “More posts means more exposure.”  However, more posts mean more work, which takes more time.

The end of the year is also a great time to hype upcoming announcements. Teasing the announcement throughout the holiday season will interest people into remembering you after the holiday season. The announcement should be made after Christmas, heading into the new year. This time could also be used to promote big events planned for the new year.

A radio station once teased all holiday season that it had a HUGE announcement underway, unveiling tiny hints each day throughout the season. Finally, after Christmas the radio station announced it would be changing the station name beginning in the new year. The station took advantage of the increased amount of listeners during the holiday season, hoping seasonal listeners would flow over into the new year, with the new brand.

Community Involvement. There is no better time to interact with the community than during the holiday season. Every weekend there is either a tree lighting, children’s choir concert, Christmas village, ice skating rink, or Santa meet and greet. All of these are opportunities to be seen and heard. As a company, you could either sponsor an event, host a table, hold a toy drive, or anything to make your presence known.

When citizens see that you give back to your community, they will be more willing to do business with you. Having your name associated with something positive can really help a business, even if you are not in trouble. When torn between two companies, a customer may remember seeing you at the recent Toys for Tots event and pick your company over another. It never hurts to go out into the community.


   

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