Five essential elements to organising an excellent event

Concourse at Sage Gateshead prior to Eat! Events have always been part of the PR practitioner’s tool kit but if you’re new to organizing them or are ready for a refresh, here are some handy hints to make your management skills top draw.

1) Be clear on your objectives

Always make sure you know exactly what your event needs to achieve and on what terms you’ll be evaluated. Only by knowing what the desired outcomes are can you design something to suit. This includes setting out who your audiences are and running through the faithful what, where, when and why checklist.

2) Plan like a pro

A pro knows exactly what can and can’t be done and will step away if there isn’t a reasonable timeframe to work within. Consider the different stages right through from ideas to budgeting and logistics and you can see why even smaller events usually require a good three months of planning from start to finish.

Add time in for all the elements you have to handle. If you’re responsible for exhibition materials, entertainment, comperes, invite list management and overseeing sub-contractors, your schedule needs to be realistic about when each of these elements can be delivered.

Always keep in mind who it is you’re targeting. For example, when organising something for the media, be thoughtful about publishing deadlines and avoid clashes with big events that might dictate editorial agendas.

Logistics is the big one. You need to think about a wide range of things, from room layouts and floor plans through to capacities and sight lines. Understanding how people behave and what they need to feel comfortable is important to help the event flow.

3) Roles and reporting

If the event is a sizeable one, create a core planning group of people you trust. Clarify roles, actions and deadlines to avoid key tasks slipping through the net and have regular updates to ensure everything remains on track. This includes building in time for regular reporting and a debriefing session after the event to share feedback and learnings.

4) Get your governance right

Risk assessments, contracts, insurances, health and safety, permissions and licences all form part of the event management process and can easily be missed. Making sure you have covered all these things and considered issues such as transport and accessibility greatly reduces the likelihood of something going wrong on the day.

5) Publicising the event

If your role also includes publicizing the event, there are additional considerations to factor in.

Media relations offers a great way to spread the word but don’t forget social media as well as self-publishing via blogs or even broadcasting via YouTube or Vimeo.

Hashtags on Twitter can be a great way for people to join in and allow those people unable to attend to follow proceedings from the comfort of the office or home.

While photography is usually on every event planner’s list, apps like Periscope and Meerkat offer video streaming for during the event and are also worth taking into consideration where resource is available.

Event organisation isn’t as easy as it looks, but practice makes perfect and there’s always the option to work with an experienced hand until you can do it alone. Crack the detail at planning stage and you’ll be set for success, not to mention grow in confidence. Any doubts, there are plenty of event management companies around so get the experts in.

A variation on this article first appeared on Hiscox's business blog in August 2015.