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How to manage a successful event

Recently I had the privilege of being my cousin’s ‘maid of honour’ and for those of you who have never experienced it, it’s a lot more work than it is play. Take my word for it, once you’ve managed to please bridezilla, meeting any client’s expectations or managing any event is a mere walk in the park. So for those of you about to tackle a big project, here’s a quick checklist for how to manage a successful event; whether it’s a sporting event or the launch of a heavy duty industrial truck or even your next cousin’s wedding – the modus operandi remains the same.

Do the research
Awaken the giant within; get moving, get excited and get ready to plan the best event this town has ever seen. A great event starts with research, so start there. Make sure before beginning with the actual work, you have done your homework and have carefully drafted out a plan that is ready for execution. From selecting the right venue for the press conference or the entertainment that best suits your event, trust me, lots of research will definitely pay off.

Location, location, location…and theme?
Scenic bay by the water? Unless it’s a wedding, it’s best not to pick a private venue tucked away on top of a hill. If you want the media to attend, make sure you go for a location that is easy to access and where parking won’t be an issue. Then, once people get there, it’s all about the entertainment. Don’t book a jazz artist for a kid’s event or an amateur magician for the luxury of a luxury car. Know who your guests are, and what will work.

The clock goes: tick tock, tick tock
Time is a luxury and is always rare when you need it the most. Every time you think you have a sufficient amount, it will still never be enough. There will always be those unexpected last minute tasks or changes that you were not prepared for -like an extra quote that needs to be added, approved and translated- or in my case, the last minute shopping trip to buy a new dress since the one I ordered online turned out to be less than acceptable to mommy dearest.

Getting your RSVPs
Don’t forget to send out the invitations ahead of time to give everyone a chance to pencil you in for a full house on the day. Make sure your press kit is ready and has everything the media needs to know about the client. It’s best to give the information on a CD or USB, which should usually include the company profile, spokesperson’s biography, high resolution images and the press release for the event. It is best to ‘go green’ and save paper, but if you are including printed copies, make sure you have enough for all the journalists invited, and have separate copies in all relevant languages – and here that’s Arabic and English.

The Bucket List
Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman had their list handy to tick off items one at a time. If you want a successful event, make sure you have your ‘Bucket list’, updated and ready. Keeping this on hand will let you know what has been accomplished, and what you still need to do (keeps you from forgetting to pick up the bride on your way there).

Then there’s the guest list, which we like to call the media list. This helps you to decide who to invite whenever there’s an event (imagine if you forget to invite dear old Aunt Sally to the wedding).
Just like you don’t do bungee jumping in scuba gear, don’t invite a business editor to the launch of the latest anti-wrinkle cream. If you want coverage for your client, and don’t want the reporter to delete your press release, take the time to update the media list not just once but regularly, every couple of months.

The big day
Every girl dreams of the perfect wedding, and so do we (for us it’s events). Make sure everything goes off without a hitch by arriving a few hours earlier to check the arrangements (no, not flower arrangements, although sometimes that might apply). Once you have checked off everything on the list, take a step back and brace yourself for an interesting evening. Mingle with the guests, thank them for coming and attend to any requests for interviews and information.

Time to see the pictures
The best part of any party is the pictures that capture your moment forever. That’s why the experience really isn’t over until you see what the media had to say about your event. Make sure you email the press release, on time, to the media and check the papers for coverage. The best take-home gift for any client is a nicely bound report that they can share with the rest of their team.

From my personal experience, I can say it’s great to look back when it’s all over and be able to have a beaming smile of pride on your face. While not every single aspect of your event will be perfect, choose what kind of bride you want to be: the one dancing alongside her guests in the pouring rain? Or, the bride sitting in the corner having a panic attack because the roses are red instead of burgundy? The ultimate key to a successful event is the experience, if they leave happy then you’ve done your job.

I would love to hear about your experience in planning events, whether personal or professional. What went wrong? What went right?