How To Organize a Public Event

getting started

You are at work and taking part in the mid-week staff meeting when the boss brings up the topic of this year’s Christmas party. Your mind has already begun to drift towards your mid-morning break when you hear your name and it suddenly dawns on you that this year it is your turn to organize the event.

No need to panic, even if you never organized so much as a small potluck dinner, there are a few simple steps you can take that will help ensure the event is a success.

The ability to organize special events can place you in good standing, not only at work but in other aspects of yoru life. In fact, if you are good at event planning you will soon need to employ that all important word, No, as you turn down requests.

The first step is to have the answers to the following:

  1. What, what are you organizing; know exactly what the event is.
  2. Why, why are you doing this event, fundraising, workshop, guest lecturer, celebration, why?
  3. Who do you want to attend?
  4. Where will the event be held?
  5. When will it be held? Be sure to include time.
  6. How will you let people know the event is taking place?

Now that you have a clear and complete understanding of the who, what, when, where, why and how of the event you are ready to begin, well almost.

A few tips:

Be sure to allow sufficient lead time: email allows us to share information fast but just because you can spread the word quickly does not mean you can make a real world event happen that fast.

If you want a few people to get together for a beer at yoru favourite pub, a text message can get the job, but if you want 100 people to show up at a local community centre for a film and discussion night with an out of town speaker, you may want a somewhat longer lead time.

One reason is you need to book space and it is always possible that the night you really really want is taken so you may need to find an alternative venue. Get this sorted out first.

Book the room as soon as you have answered the six questions and make it for at least eight weeks from that date. This gives you time to get the word out. Now the bigger and more important the event is the longer lead time you will need.

A potluck with friends can be set up within a week or two, a community meeting about starting a community garden, six weeks minimum, a 100 dollar a plate dinner four months is cutting it close.

Okay now you are ready to rock; you know what you are doing and so on so what resources do you need to make it happen?

  1. Do you need to book a room?
  2. Are you serving food?
  3. Are you serving alcohol?
  4. Will there be live music?
  5. Do you need an master of ceremonies?
  6. How will waste be handled?
  7. What will you do with food that is not eaten?
  8. How are you planning to promote the event?
  9. Are you selling tickets or is admission free?
  10. Child care is that a concern?
  11. What if it rains and the event is outdoors?

The office Christmas party will need little promotion outside the company, your potluck with a few friend no problem but the guest speaker and video night demands more.

If you are planning a major social event, you most likely have a budget and a committee to help the event unfold but if you are doing this voluntarily for your local horticultural society the budget may be thin. So how do you run an effective promotional campaign on a very tiny budget? This brings us back to lead time; a long lead time allows that wonderful free advertising technique to work, word of mouth: people telling other people about the event.

Email can be a big help and if you have an email list put it to work.

Promotion

Now that you understand the basics and know what it is you are organizing it is time to give some thought as to how you are going to get an audience.

The Christmas office party is nor problem, you have a built in audience who are easy to reach, just be sure to let people know six weeks in advance and all should be fine.

However, if you have a guest speaker coming who will show a short film on climate change, hold a discussion and you want the general public to attend then you need promotion.

You can make some posters, easy enough to do but unless you know a good location to put them up, don't bother. If you have places to hang posters do so, some local businesses wiill let you use a window or door space if the event is a community one.

Keep the poster simple, be sure the date, time and place are visible.

One problem you may have is giving out a contact number for those who seek more information.

Do not use your personal phone.

If there is no available phone line, get a free email and use that for contact purposes.

There are two tools that can draw attention to the evening; one is the media or press release, the other is the public service announcement or psa.

The media release is a one pager that informs the local media what is taking place and why it is newsworthy. they may run the release as is; they may send a reporter for a photo op and/or story, they may call or email for more information, or they may ignore the whole thing.

If you want their attention; send the release one week before the event and follow up with a phone call the day before.

The psa is a free announcement that TV, radio and newspapers offer to community organizations. It is short and gives the basics, date, time,place and what's happening.

If your event is free your odds of having the psa run are higher; it is okay to have a donation box at the door.

Tell everyone you know about the event, after all if your are putting it on, it should be something you are excited about and want to share.

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Comments 27 comments

Ryan Hupfer profile image

Ryan Hupfer 8 years ago from San Francisco, CA

HubMob! I used to do a lot of event promotion, so this is right up my alley...thanks for being a HubMobster!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

Very great how to article. I would not want to organize a public event, but this hub is so organized it can help others do so.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks for dropping by, I enjoy organizing, it is a challenge and an opportunity. Hubmobbing is good fun.


Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

Great stuff.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

I have worked in Human Resources and been involved in organizing many public events.  Loved your simple steps and few tips!  Great info.  Thumbs up.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks D1.


Chef Jeff profile image

Chef Jeff 8 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

Nice hub, and lots of great advice!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

thanks.


scheng1 6 years ago

Have to pay attention to security matters if rich and famous people are coming.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick Author

That is true, I'd hire a specialist for that, thanks for dropping by,


Becky 6 years ago

I have to plan a bid for an event at college and this was a great help, thanks a lot !


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Glad it helped, all the best.


debra 6 years ago

i'm planning a guitar show/vintage rock poster/jewely show/ with food and i've picked what i think is a pretty ok place...they only charge 30.00 an hour...it's a community center and people who go there are on the hippie looking side...great for the posters, however the poster guy thinks it too tacky, where the guitar guy who sells 10k guitars is ok with the place...i'm bewildered. i think the place can look fine with a little elbow grease and some balloons and decorations. how do you convince people of something when they are not very imaginative?


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick Author

It can be diffcult to convince someone about what they do not or can not see, you may need to paint the scene for the poster guy, show him what you have in mind.


eventsyoudesign profile image

eventsyoudesign 6 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

This is a g ood article. I have enjoyed reading it. I have planned events for many years. You are right on the money. I will read more hubs. Thanks for sharing. Teresa


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks and happy reading.


dimple raval 6 years ago

thanks a lot its help out me iin my new job


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Great, thanks for dropping by.


Ramish 5 years ago

The informatio is nice and great, but one thing this is not fair to drink alcohol or provide alcholo to participants.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks for dropping by.


Emmanuel 5 years ago

hello and good day. please i have been given a task to organize two events at a college. the first one is The College Opening Day and the second is a Beauty Contest for college students. Please i need you help in planning these events


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Are you working with a committee?


abedi08 4 years ago from Ghana West Africa

Hello, i am a chairman of a newly formed development oriented NGO WITH THE GOAL OF REDUCING POVERTY AND UNEMPLOYMENT and am task to chair a fun raising event committee on December. Please i need your help in planning these events. Thank you. Abedi - Ghana.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 4 years ago from New Brunswick Author

abedi08, what specific help do you need and what is the name of the ngo?


tasteofmytongue profile image

tasteofmytongue 4 years ago

great article! I would love to start an event planning business but have no idea where to start. I have planned many events for different occassions but never on a professional level.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 4 years ago from New Brunswick Author

My hunch is that event planning has become a very competitive field, all the best. Thanks for dropping by.

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