Ensuring events aren’t unexpectedly eventful

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Event management is part and parcel of a PR professional’s role.

When I joined the Active PR team I had a baptism of fire with my first event, assisting one of the directors at a road-naming ceremony where I ended up helping a short-staffed caterer, making cups of tea under a table in a crowded marquee.

Since then I’ve arranged countless show home launches, open days and school visits, amongst others, booking afternoon teas, hog roasts, cocktail mixologists, brass bands, string quartets, children’s entertainers, magicians and even Santa himself.

Friends and family have also called upon my organisational skills. I’ve planned my mum’s 70th birthday party and I’m often the one who coordinates weekends away, working out travel arrangements, accommodation and the itinerary for the trip.

Managing expectations for personal and professional events is a key part of the planning process. It’s much better to ‘under promise’ and ‘over deliver’ than leave people disappointed.

I attended the Fantastical Chocolate Festival in Liverpool last month and, while it wasn’t quite what I expected, I could appreciate some of the issues the organisers faced, including overcrowding and queues which tapered out gradually over time.

Afterwards I read complaints on social media from other attendees, by and large people who had expected a full day of family-friendly entertainment. Unfortunately while there were characters mingling with visitors and performers singing on the stage, the early part of the event was so busy that they were easy to miss. The stage area wasn’t easily identifiable and had become a dumping ground for rubbish from the adjoining stalls.

Providing more bins would be a simple fix to the rubbish issue, while the stage itself could have been better positioned.

Unfortunately assessing when attendees will arrive and leave isn’t an easy task when it comes to all-day events.  It can mean lengthy queues and bottlenecking or on the flip side an empty venue void of guests. The trick is to try and keep people moving and happy when it’s busy and entice them to stay longer when it’s quiet to encourage others to join them.

When it comes to event management it’s not an exact science and there is no winning formula. Even with the most careful planning, things can and will go wrong. It’s how you prepare for and respond to those issues that matters – even if it does mean brewing up underneath a table!