ExPeRience: The Relationship Between Event Planning and Public Relations

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By: Ashley Hansen, Director of Chapter Development

I can’t help but reminisce to my decision of wanting to study public relations with senior year of high school on the horizon. Honestly, I didn’t really have a grasp on what PR meant when I chose it as my major.  What I did know was that I had a love of events, even if it was just from binge-watching different wedding shows on TV.  With that interest, my advisor suggested I pursue a major in public relations, which couldn’t have been a better recommendation.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t differences between event planning and public relations, but as I’m in the midst of helping my sister plan her own wedding, I’ve realized that many key PR tactics apply to event planning. From this real-world application, I have an even greater appreciation for both fields, which just goes to show how one initial interest can develop into something more than you ever expected. There are a few ways I’ve made the connection between planning an event and practicing public relations.

Come up with a plan

When thinking about event planning, it’s obvious that you need a plan (it’s in the name). Nonetheless, a plan is a crucial part to any public relations campaign or media kit. A plan consists of many different components. The budget, timeline, ideas, and goals are some of the first that come to mind. A plan keeps everyone on the same page and every detail organized. It’s also important to remember that even with a plan, you have to be flexible to sudden changes. By having a plan, it’s easier to handle whatever unexpectedly comes up without feeling overwhelmed.

Creativity is a must

What separates your public relations campaign or event from all the others out there? The answer to that is a unique approach, which requires creativity. However, you have to be creative in a way that matches what the client wants. After meeting with the client, hold a brainstorm session on your own or with a team where you can really think outside the box. Then, it’s time to gradually narrow down your options. Keep up to date on trends within the demographic of which you’re trying to appeal to make your creative process more effective. Social media sites like Pinterest are a great source for design inspiration.

Work well with others

I feel like this one is sometimes easier said than done, but public relations practitioners and event planners are known for this skill because so many of the job requirements involve working with people. Let’s be honest…when a client or members on your team have different ideas about something, conflicts typically arise. It’s harder to focus on the task at hand when you’re dealing with that extra stress. Try not to take anything personally and look at the situation in a solely professional way. Channel any stress into working harder to create an even better final product.

Provide an experience

Whether it’s a public relations campaign or an event, you want it to be memorable. An experience could be one moment in time, but it’s often a mix of memories associated with one main event that stay with people for many years. Because planning an event or PR campaign is a process, there are many opportunities where you can create special moments. With my event planning and PR mindset, I will consider my work a success if my sister remembers the journey leading up to her wedding just as much as she does her actual wedding day.

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