Meeting and Event Planning

New Event? Here’s Your Project Kick-Off Checklist

Must Haves for a Great Project Kick OffA project kick off is always exciting. If it’s a new client, then teams are pumped to meet each other and see where their creative expertise can take them. If it’s with an existing partner, then everybody’s psyched to build on previous successes and take their events to new levels of engagement.

Having just attended a project kick off meeting with one of our favorite clients, we decided to compile a list of items every event kick off should have. When putting together that agenda, here are some musts:

A Good Brief – No-brainer? Maybe, but writing briefs that inspire great events is an art. In general, we look for two sections: one with the nitty gritty on the event (date, location, target audience, objectives, overall messaging, etc.) and one with an overview and communication mandatories for each featured product and service.  Be detailed but concise. Go beyond generic objectives and give your event planner concrete goals.  How will you measure success after the event? What sets your company apart? Many agencies, including ours, will provide tips and even templates to help craft your event brief.

Audience Insight – The cardinal rule in marketing is “Know Your Audience,” so give your agency all you can to help them understand yours as well as you do. What would make your targets’ lives and jobs easier? What are their existing beliefs about your products and services, and what might keep them from engaging with you? How do they speak, and how are they used to being spoken to? If budget allows, let your agency do some interviews to see what insights they can uncover. And of course, provide all branding/equity guidelines upfront.

A Realistic Budget (or Realistic Expectations) – If you envision a Broadway-caliber show, an experience on par with Disney, or a soiree to rival Vanity Fair’s Oscar party, then you’ll need to fund accordingly. If you don’t have that kind of money you can still have a great event, you’ll just have to approach your vision more creatively. A good agency will help you understand what your budget will buy. Be upfront with them: what does the budget cover and what items could be funded from another source? Are the numbers hard and fast, or could an exceptionally exciting idea shake down additional funds?

An Empowered Key Contact – To help ensure an on-time, on-budget delivery, you’ll want to designate a go-to guy or gal for answers to questions and speedy approvals. This person should be empowered to make important decisions. If not, he or she should be able to easily and quickly access all key personnel, then compile their collective feedback.

Production Schedule – We usually come to kick off meetings with a preliminary production schedule which we refine as concepts develop. You can help by letting us know any watch-outs. Legal approvals, team member vacations, holidays, and possible snags in product development or claims can all impact deadlines and budgets. It’s best to plan for these early rather than be surprised later.

Quality Assets – What do you have that we can leverage as we create the experience? Testimonials, video, TV commercials, photography, social media campaigns–make all of it available and we’ll mine it as appropriate. Just make sure everything is approved by your legal team, and that images and footage are high-resolution. That goes for all logos, as well. It may seem obvious, but we encourage clients to make sure , especially if multiple agencies are involved.

Now that we’ve listed what you should bring to a project kick off meeting, let’s talk about what not to bring. It’s simple, really. Leave preconceived ideas about what the experience should be at the door. We want to know your vision, of course, and collaboration is key to success. But a presentation technology that worked for another company might not be the best way to tell your unique story. And your budget, logistics and other details might mean it’s best to go a different direction from the one you’ve been mulling.

If you’ve provided the kickoff basics, then we’ll have what we need to work with you on an effective, engaging and memorable experience that will exceed your initial expectations. Want to know more? Visit us at moeningpresentations.com or give us a call about your next event.

What Does It Take to Be an Event Planner? See if You’ve Got the Right Stuff

By Eckhard Pecher (Arcimboldo) (Own work) [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia CommonsPlanning an event is a little like participating in a decathlon. That’s what we’ve been thinking as we’ve watched the 2012 Olympians compete for gold.

Event planning and production might not require the physical prowess of an athlete who competes in 10 different track and field events. But if you think about the sheer variety of skills required to go from hurdles to pole vaulting to throwing the javelin, plus seven other activities in the space of just two days, then you get a taste of what an event planner needs to create winning work.

Think you’ve got right combination of depth, breadth and stamina? If your job requires you to plan events, here are some qualities you must possess.

Boundless Creativity – It all starts with a great concept, which means translating your clients’ objectives into something fresh, exciting and memorable. Be curious, be open-minded, and actively expose yourself to new people, places and ideas. Let yourself be inspired by everything from art and pop culture to nature and technology.

Mad Juggling Skills – Events bring together a huge variety of disciplines, from logistics and catering to entertainment and digital marketing. Keeping it all straight, meeting deadlines, and crossing the finish line having successfully realized your clients’ vision requires real talent.

Maniacal Attention to Detail – The tiniest oversight can mean the difference between award-worthy and a ho-hum. In some cases it can spell disaster. Even the most detail-oriented planner should have strategies for ensuring that nothing gets overlooked.

A Cool Head – If the Olympics demonstrate anything, it’s the importance of grace under pressure. Very few events are free of glitches and gremlins. But while anything can go wrong behind the scenes, your clients and their guests should experience nothing but friendly, flawless service. A great event planner can work cordially with many different people, all of whom are under their own sets of pressures. Strong, steady leadership will help everybody keep calm and carry on no matter what challenges arise.

The Ability to Tap Dance – If and when something does go awry, you need plan-B waiting on the sidelines, ready to step in.  And if plan-B backfires? Then you’ve got to be able to improvise. This is where that boundless creativity comes in handy. So does having good connections with vendors and colleagues who can help you out in a pinch. Remember: your clients don’t care how strenuous and stressful the job is; they just want an outstanding finish.

Passion and Integrity –  Let your clients see how much you love what you do. Engage them in the process and help them feel confident that you really are on their team. Be transparent and honest. Deal fairly not just with those you work for but with those who work for you. When an event comes to a successful conclusion, you want everyone to feel as though they share in the glory of a job well done.

Want to see some of MPG’s event work? Check out the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival and Cincinnati’s Tech Olympics Expo.