Strategic Communications: Prepare your next event with a Run of Show

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As a Communications professional, your role in events typically goes beyond “simple” day-of execution – though it will likely include that. When planning an event it’s critical to use a strategic approach, much in the same way you would any other project or task.

The first step really is to step back and ask what the goal of an event is. While this may seem as though it goes without saying, you can’t be certain that this has been fully flushed out when a request is brought to you. Too often, people begin to plan an event, imagining the location or guestlist, when they haven’t yet nailed down the purpose.

Before moving forward with any action, sit down with the decision maker(s) and determine the why behind the event. Are you trying to sell something to consumers? Do you want the media to cover your company’s recent achievement? Are you trying to affect policy?

This level of understanding will help shape your event. For example, the timing of your event will shift depending on whether you’re trying to get a potential customer to attend, think evenings and weekends, or municipal representatives to show face, where working hours are probably better.

Once you’ve determined the key details, pull together your team and get on the same page. From the event details to document version control, make sure everyone is working from the same one “source of truth.”

Schedule regular meetings to touch base with your team and confirm details. As you build your event concept and pull together the details (guest list, venue, etc.) begin piecing together a Run of Show document that contains all the critical pieces of information:

  • Event name and information

  • Host and location

  • Number of guests

  • How will attendees transit to the event?

  • Key on-site contacts (include names and the best contact for the day of the event)

  • Summary of speakers (who will be on stage and in what order? Do they require anything special?)

Your Run of Show should also include a vendor overview with contact information and a detailed timeline that considers all logistical components (this can be down to the minute depending on the nature of the event!).

This will provide you with a clear overview that ensures the day will unfold smoothly or will alert you to any timing issues that may arise. For example, your food vendors cannot begin setting up their stations until your rental company provides the tables, and your master of ceremonies can’t welcome guests before the audio-visual equipment has been delivered.

Finally, in the day or days preceding the event, meet with your team to solidify the Run of Show document; follow up to confirm with each vendor; assemble your event day kit, including print outs of the Run of Show document, table and wayfinding signage, and anything you may need on-site like scissors or tape; and, get a good night’s sleep!

About the Author

Kristine Sostar McLellan is the Corporate Communications Manager at Concert Properties, and holds a Master of Publishing degree from SFU with a BA in English Literature from UBC. Working in both not-for-profit and corporate environments, she has over ten years of strategic communications experience. Twitter: @KristineSostar

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