SpongeBob to ASC—My Internship in 5 Points

Shantol Williams

There’s a SpongeBob SquarePants episode in which SpongeBob breaks into a sweat trying to choose 10 words to describe “What I learned in boating school.” If you haven’t seen it, here’s the gist:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8AiuTO7sXY\

Suffice it to say, SpongeBob and I are perfectionists when it comes to writing about ourselves and our experiences – every thought must be complete, every “T” must be crossed, and every memory must be detailed.

So now it’s my turn, and while it’s not easy to edit down my every memory on the countless lessons I’ve learned during my internship at ASC—here’s a summary in 5 points:

 

1)      Event management & event planning are different

In school, I believed event planning and management were interchangeable because I was active in both roles. But ASC has taught me that, although it is important to coordinate all event logistics before the event, the responsibility does not end when the show is on the road. Managing an event means having a contingency plan, being aware of the event activities, and having a flexible staff—all things  things that lead to a successful event.

 

2)      There is no such thing as a small task, even if it may seem that way on the surface

Internships have a stigma attached where it is assumed that interns do the grunt work and are typically not trusted with large tasks. However, I never felt like an intern at ASC – I simply felt like part of the team. And because of this, no task was too small and every task was important.

 

3)      There is no such thing as a bad idea

I have a great fear of saying the wrong thing, so I tend to say nothing at all. ASC provided a safe environment to voice my thoughts and opinions without fear. At ASC, I found that the team encourages and values every idea put on the table because every idea leads to a bigger picture. I think the important lesson here is that an idea is just a seed and a seed can grow into many different things – but only if it’s planted.

 

4)      There are benefits to working for a small business

Working in a small business allows for one-on-one attention. Building relationships with clients and coworkers is easy, asking questions when you need clarification is easier, and it allowed me the opportunity to be involved in several projects. This gave me a more rounded look at the different parts of public relations and marketing.

 

5)      Teamwork really does matter

Before working at ASC, I understood the importance of teamwork to an extent. But seeing how everyone worked together and easily extended help to others when they could, really showed me the strength of being a team. In the real world, you are teaming up with clients, contractors, and a list of other people to complete a project or launch a successful event. What I learned at ASC is that everyone has a voice and every voice matters.

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Scares of Event Planning

Theater_Pexels

With Halloween just around the corner, we thought the time was right to talk about the public outreach tactic that can send chills up the spine of many a communications pro: staging and managing events. As mediums of communication, events are unlike print, web, or video. There are no edits, no revisions, no do-overs. Events are more like theatrical productions. When the curtain goes up, the show goes on—no matter what. And that can be a scary thing.

We’ll unmask a few trade secrets to help you make sure events don’t send you—or your attendees—screaming for the exit.

Start early

Seems simple, but the most important part of an event happens days, weeks, and months in advance. Here’s the one thing we know about events: the unexpected will happen—it always does—and the only way to be prepared is to have everything else locked down so you’re free to troubleshoot and problem solve on the fly.

Do your research

You’d be surprised how much time and money is wasted by event planning that’s rushed without time set aside to step back and give every aspect a good long think:

Event purpose: Why are you doing this event, and what do you want attendees to
walk away with? What should everyone know after the event that they didn’t know
before? Is this a high tech moment or a feel-good grassroots gathering?

Conflicts: What other events are currently scheduled? Does your event coincide with
any holidays (religious or otherwise)? Are there lessons to be learned from similar,
previous events?

Stakeholders: Who are they? Are there underserved populations? What do they care
about? How do they receive information? Who are their influencers? What media
outlets are applicable?

Venue: Is there on-site parking? Enough restrooms? Accessible by public transit?
Handicap accessible? Allows food and drink? Provides AV, podium, projector,
tables/chairs, and easels? Will they provide event staff? Do you need insurance?

Subcontractors: Do you need catering, AV, equipment, presenters, translators,
stenographers, or security? Who are the best, closest, and most cost effective?
Are there past reviews or references you can contact?

Get the word out

Here’s the nightmare on Event Street: giving an event no one shows up for.  Plan your promotion strategy carefully, with different kinds of reminders and mediums to keep people interested. Remember that research you did on preferred communication channels?  This is the time to make sure you connect with your potential attendees wherever you can.

Earned media: Press releases, interviews, media alerts, and calendar listings.

Paid media: Advertisements, commercials, direct mail, and billboards.

Owned media: Website, save the date, e-invitations, flyer, poster, and social media.

Word of mouth: Advocates, people or groups of influence, organizations, companies, schools, and community groups.

One more walk through

Even though you have (hopefully) done multiple site visits to your venue, make sure you arrive well ahead of time the day of the event or even the night before for a final on-site review.

Set up: Check equipment, arrange the room, organize materials, and hang posters and directional signs.

Dress rehearsal: Review the agenda with event staff, subcontractors, and presenters—make sure you have cell phone numbers for all support staff. Practice transitions and memorize the sequence of activities.

If you have done your due diligence prior to the event, when the day comes you will be able to address the unexpected—here are a few of our real-world favorites:

A panhandler started soliciting attendees—we slipped him some cash to leave the premises.

The caterer neglected to make a vegetarian lunch for our client—ran to a nearby deli to grab a backup falafel.

We arrived to find the venue ceiling gutted for repairs—headed to a nearby marina and rented sailboat sails and fish nets for a quickly devised aquatic theme.

The keynote speaker cleared his throat, and a rock band started thumping drums—we’d befriended every custodian of course, who unplugged the offending noise.

From All Hallows’ Eve to corporate launches, good planning will bag a great event every time.  It’s the trick that gets the treat.

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