In the communications industry, events and events management is everything. Events take up about 90% of an organisation’s public activities and as a communications practitioner, you will inevitably be caught up in situations where you will have to organise them.

What’s an Event?
An event is usually a planned and organised occasion for celebrating or promoting the interests of those organising it. Essentially, it is a time to share some achievement, be it as individual, family or corporate. Events vary in size, theme and direction. However while you think of organising an event, you will also need to apply the 5-Ws and H extensively similar to writing a news story.

Event Theme, Objectives or Purpose – “WHAT”
The ‘WHAT’ will help with ‘What is the event about?’ You will have to look at the objectives, themes and purpose. Knowing this, will help you know the direction, messaging and guide you in establishing tangible goals with suitable preparations. It will also give you an idea of what you can accomplish.
Obviously, the ‘WHAT’ will apply to the brand name along with the theme, tagline and the event logo. You will have to be creative in coming up with something distinctive. In this day and age of social media, your hashtag can attract interest but it all begins with the brand name and event theme.

‘WHAT’ will also determine your format, perhaps a formal dinner, bonfire, cocktail or straight forward business meeting .

Establish a date – ‘WHEN’
‘WHEN’. A date and time must be agreed upon early, because it sets the momentum of the preparations at each stage. Give yourself ample time to organise. A big event of about 50 or more people may require a month or two. If the function is less than 50 then probably a week will do. Bad timing can mean disaster. Look out for the public holidays and weekends.

Pick an Event Management Team – ‘WHO’
Some events are far too big for a one person to manage. You will need to pick a team and allocate tasks. It is always better to give people activities/duties there are passionate about. This will get you effective results. If an individual is great with handling service providers or protocol then they should be put in charge of that. But some areas might need an extra workforce like the venue, invited guests, refreshments, entertainment, media, MC & speakers, guest-of-honour and catering for the interests of different sponsors.
The ‘WHO’ will also help to pick your audience and identify the appropriate guest-of-honour if he/she is necessary.

Pick a Location – ‘WHERE’
You cannot organise an event without a venue! This is one of the first checklist items. The ‘WHERE’ should pop up in your head the moment you are informed about an upcoming event.
The ‘WHERE’ will also help you establish the distance your service providers have to move on that day . Sometimes it’s better to get one provider who can cater for almost everything, right from the venue to refreshments and decorations.

Create an Event Plan – ‘HOW’
Normally this is the event plan and a useful way to follow through on decisions made. A plan will mainly include the budgets, the partnerships /sponsorships required or acquired, contracts signed, activities to execute and promotion materials , media (if necessary) and the number of people needed. During your structuring of an event’s plan the ‘HOW’ factor is always crucial. It gives details, direction and most importantly keeps everyone in line with the selected themes and purpose of the event. Using a combination of the Plan and Checklist, (which is derived from the plan), one can closely keep track of the progress and help fill in the gaps. More to be discussed about the “Event Plan” in our next session.

Event Publicity Plan
Publicity all starts with a post on social media and you can get influencers to do the rest if further advertising is required. However traditional media is also important. This is when you have to equip yourself with media relation skills to be able to use all avenues to your advantage. Print and radio interviews are important, but you have to be careful because if it’s an invite-only event then invitation letters are much better than pre-event advertising. Unwanted guests are always a nightmare! On your media checklist be sure of the kind of coverage you want the event to have then make preparations early.

Evaluate your Plan – ’HOW’
This is when you and your team determine ‘HOW’ the event went. If successful, then look for future areas of improvement. Where mistakes were made, try to understand why. All this will help you organise the next event better. The evaluation process also allows you to judge the performance of the service providers.
Most importantly the success of the event could depend on the achievement of your set objectives. As you come up with an event plan, you set determinates that will mark the achievement of your objectives. You have an Objective; set ‘HOW’ to achieve it and ‘WHAT’ will determine its success.
Keep in mind however much an event doesn’t go as planned, your calmness under pressure is vital to reassure everybody else! Taking in easy long breaths can steady your nerves.

Wish you a great event

About the Author: Immaculate Namanda

Immaculate has a solid grounding in account management. She knows the market, with skills in strategic positioning, media and client relations together with project coordination and management. Prior to joining WMC Africa, she headed media relations, brand positioning, strategic writing, CSI initiatives and events management at the Alam Group.

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