Category Archives: Uncategorized

Thank Your Guests

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It is so important to thank guests for attending your event.  During the Miss Longwood Pageant I thanked everyone in attendance, our sponsors, judges, and the sorority.  I even had a special thank you section on our program to thank our sponsors, judges, and escorts.

After the event, I made sure to send thank you cards to those who really helped with the pageant.  I gave thank you cards to the sisters that helped me throughout the planning process which was greatly appreciated.  I also personally delivered thank you cards to our sponsors.  As I’ve mentioned before the official sponsor of the pageant was Caryn’s Bridals, Formals and Tuxedo’s so two days after the pageant I brought them thank you cards to show my gratitude.  I also brought a thank you card to the Sleeping Bee, who gave a generous discount for the judge’s gifts.

It is important to thank those who attended because without guests your event could not be possible.

Use Public Relations to your Advantage

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As a Communications student at Longwood University I have a great interest in public relations.  My communication classes have prepared me for event planning as well as the publicizing an event.  After reading “Groundswell” and “No Bullshit Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing” I’ve learned a lot about getting your message to the public using traditional and nontraditional public relations methods.  I’ve learned how to apply the theories of using social media from these two books to the last event I planned. 

As I’ve said before, I currently serve as the philanthropy chair for Kappa Delta sorority and recently planned our biggest philanthropy event of the year, the 8th Annual Miss Longwood Pageant.  I tried my best to publicize the event and advertise it as much as possible. 

First, I used social media to promote the event in many ways.  I created a Facebook event in which myself and other sisters invited their friends.  Since we have built a relationship (not just the one on Facebook) with our friends and colleagues at our school, students were willing to check yes to attending since we have that relationship.  Sister also posted on their status’ on Facebook reminding friends to attend as well as tweeted about the event,  some of us even tweeted @ the National Kappa Delta headquarters in hopes to be retweeted.  I am also going to suggest that next year we advertise our event on our Kappa Delta Alpha Chapter website.  All of these social media tools definitely helped promote the event.

Yard sign for the Miss Longwood pageant

Secondly, I also used traditional styles of media to promote the event as well.   I contacted the campus newspaper, The Rotunda to see if they could run a feature article on the event to advertise the event to students who read the paper, which they actually did!  Sisters of my sorority hung fliers around campus as well as sent out little shamrock cut out reminders around campus on the day of the event.  I even went as far as making yard signs to promote the event (which I myself was very impressed with).  Since most students at my school walk to class, I thought it would be a great idea to make the yard signs to remind students to attend the event as they change classes.  The yard signs were staked in the ground in places that I deemed as having the most student traffic.

All in all it is important to get your message to the people!  The two books I mentioned earlier encourage corporate companies to build relationships with their fan base so they can better promote products and their company.  With event planning it is important to have a strong fan base so people will be encouraged to attend your event.  With the Miss Longwood Pageant, students who have been in the past know that is it a fun event so they may encourage their friends to attend just by word of mouth promotion.  As sisters in the sorority, we try to participate in other philanthropy events so since we have supported other event those people may in turn support us.  Using social media as well as traditional styles of marketing definitely helped promote the event.

Evaluate your event!

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To improve an event each year or each occurrence of the event, be sure to evaluate your event to give yourself suggestions for the next event.  Keeping notes on what went well or wrong is a great way to stay organized and improve your event planning skills.  As I mentioned earlier, I am the Philanthropy Chair for Kappa Delta sorority and plan the annual Miss Longwood Pageant which raises money for our national philanthropy Prevent Child Abuse America as well as Madeline’s House.

As an underclassman in the sorority I helped backstage at my first year’s pageant as being a sister.   Working backstage and having the Philanthropy Chair, a senior at the time, notice my efforts and work ethic really encouraged me and sparked my interest to plan the next year’s pageant.

That year I worked hard to plan the pageant according to how the previous philanthropy had done.  I kept most of the things the same and worked hard to have a successful pageant as well as raise a lot of money.  After the pageant I took notes on how I thought I could improve the pageant. 

This year I feel very accomplished because I have enacted most of my goals I had set for myself last year.  The first improvement I made was sending out the applications for contestants a month earlier than last year; that way campus organizations had enough time to nominate a female contestant and I knew the contestants two weeks in advance. This year a great idea because we had a new sponsorship with Caryn’s Bridals, Formals, and Tuxedos which each contestant was fitted for a dress to wear during the question and answer.   Having the contestant earlier in advance allowed the contestants to be fitted at three different dress fittings and allowing them to attend the fitting that worked best with their schedule.

I also improved on the advertising of the event.  I had two yards signs made which I hope will encourage students to attend.  Students had been aware of the pageant due to the weekly emails, fliers, and posters.  On the day of the pageant we are going to hand out shamrocks in d-hall to remind students of the pageant. 

I also improved the pageant by having a large vinyl banner made as well as programs for the pageant.  It was a big goal of mine to have the programs because I think it adds a more professional feel to the pageant.

I hope these suggestions interest you and you may use them one day at your own event.  My best advice is to evaluate the event and take notes on how to improve.

Happy Planning!

Decorations!

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As I mentioned in my post, Keep a Budget $$$, it is important to plan to have decorations at your event.  Decorations can be anything from balloons, flowers, lighting, a slideshow, table clothes, table center pieces, etc.

Decorations are an important aspect of an event because you want your event to look presentable and professional.  Guests usually base their opinion of an event based on the decorations and how aesthetically pleasing the event looks.  Think of the last event you attended…do you remember what the event looked like or what decorations were used?

While choosing the decorations for an event keep in mind the type of event.  You don’t want to have all black colored decorations at a kid’s birthday party or decorations that would get ruined by the guests.   Today I will focus on decorating a philanthropy event because I would like to consider that my specialty.

As the philanthropy chair for my sorority, I have had the opportunity to plan multiple events.  At the “Run with the Cops” 2 mile run around campus we hosted, we had balloons and a banner serve as our decorations.  I guess you could say it was bad planning on my part because the day of the event was a very windy day which led the balloons to blow in the wind.

At my sororities annual Miss Longwood Pageant, we usually have plants/flowers, balloons, and table decorations serve as our form of decorations. 

Miss Longwood 2009 with the Philanthropy Chair

  Since the pageant is a beauty pageant we usually do not have decorations on stage to prevent them from being ruined as the contestants are performing their talent. 

  After putting more detail into the event, I think this year I am going to have flowers on stage near the speaker’s podium.  I think it would look really nice if we displayed the crown and winners sash on stage for guests to look at during the event.  As guests enter Jarman auditorium, we have a donations table setup for guests to donate to our philanthropy, Prevent Child Abuse America.  The table usually has a blue table cloth and information regarding the philanthropy.  This year we are going to make it look nicer by having pictures of my sorority sisters doing philanthropic events, to make the table look more fun and interactive.I hope after reading my experiences you have a better understanding on how to decorate a philanthropy event and learned a few tips on decorations.  Happy Planning!

Enjoy Yourself!

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I get it, an event is hard work but during the event take a moment to look around:  Look at the people at your event, look at the decorations, listen to the music, and try to relax.  Take the time to enjoy the event you have worked so hard to organize, even if it’s only for a second.

The feeling after the event is very rewarding.  Feeling like you have accomplished something and have made an impact on someone’s life is a great feeling.  So remember to take a second to appreciate your work before getting back into the event process.

Be Prepared and Be in Contact!

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An event takes a lot of work, so make sure you are well prepared and have all the help you can get!  It is important to plan ahead.  Write out what you are going to do when you are going to do it.  Have a schedule and allow more time than is necessary.  If you think setup is going to take an hour, allow yourself an hour and a haft in case anything goes wrong.

Last year, I planned a beauty pageant for my sorority and did everything I could to be prepared.  Prior to the dress rehearsal I made stage directions for those working backstage, to inform them when the curtain would open/close, which talents needed a microphone, etc.  During the dress rehearsal I worked out any kinks in my stage directions to make sure everything was perfect during the pageant.  It is always important to be as prepared as possible.

Being organized and prepared will allow an event to go more smoothly and less stressful for all of those involved.  Have a list of your volunteers and their contact information with you at all times.  It is important to make sure your volunteers show up, and if they don’t, be prepared to have a plan of action of how you are going to get everything done with less people.  It is important to brief your volunteers to make sure you’re all on the same page.

Keep in contact with those involved at all times.  If you’ve ever watched a fashion show, you’ve seen the people back stage with headsets on talking with the other people around the show, to keep in contact with what is supposed to happen when. During any event it is important to keep in contact with those involved to make sure everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing.

The Guest List

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As much time and effort that goes into an event,  you want people to actually show up and enjoy themselves, that’s why it is important to make sure your event is well advertised.  Whether you’re planning a formal event and the guest list is by invitation only or if your event is open to the public, the event needs to be well advertised. 

Invitation only: For an invitation only event, the invitations need to be well thought out with all necessary information including; who, what, and why– description of the event (i.e.-birthday party, wedding, date night), when– time & date, where– place (some may need directions), how-what to do…possible theme.  If the event is well secured, guests need to know if identification or the invitation must be presented at the time of entrance.  The time of the event is also very important.  If you’re trying to plan a surprise birthday party, I would advise you to inform the guests that they NEED to be at the location by a specific time.  Also specify if the event is an “open house” that guests can come by whenever they are free during your specified times.  If a party is later at night and you only want guests to stay until 11p.m. make sure you state the end time on the invitation so guests aren’t lingering around.  Another important tip is if you want guests to RSVP; make sure to state on the invitation when you want to know if they will be in attendance.  Also make sure to include if a specific dress is required.  For formal events, make sure to state if it is a black-tie or casual dress.  For theme parties, make sure to include what the guests need to wear, for example- “wear your favorite pajamas for the sleepover party!”

Open Events: For events that are open to the public, it is important to get your advertisements where people will see them.  ADVERTISE, ADVERTISE, AND ADVERTISE.  Some common advertisements are fliers, email invitations, Facebook posts, banners, radio commercials, TV commercials, etc.  Get your message to the people and make sure they attend.  Or if you’re having a hard time getting people to your event, have an incentive for them to come.  “The first 500 people will receive a free t-shirt”.  People love free stuff, so if you offer it they will mostly likely come.