More Lessons From Presidential Debates For Event Planners

StormTrooper McCain Tries To Exit The Stage On The Wrong Side

Brian Slawin over at the BusyEventBlog recently penned an article on what event planners, speakers and anyone involved in stage happenings during events can learn from our presidential debates. His points include no smirking, telling the truth and that no matter how hard you try, people will believe what they want.

We love his points, and would like to add a few of our own to help speakers be a little more memorable after they walk off stage.

Have Tweetable Comments Ready
Before social media, we called rehearsed one-liners sound bites, as they were perfect for news coverage, talking points and advertising support. While we still have sound bites, Twitter or Facebook will help short, memorable phrases go a long way.

Connect Your Comments
While tweetable comments are great for people to retweet, they’re not that great for explaining complex subjects. By outlining your points under a larger idea, you can share perfectly sized phrases without compromising the level of thinking required to understand the topic your speaker may be explaining.

Think Problem-Solution
Great speakers know that speeches are like sales pitches: introduce the problem, then solve it. Your audience isn’t all that concerned about the what, when and where of whatever you’re sharing, rather the how and why. Stick with it.

Treat The Competition With Respect
Most attendees don’t care why you dislike the other guys, they care what makes you the best at what you do. While presidential debates certainly include verbal jabs — subtle or otherwise — it’s not a good idea to treat others in your industry like lesser people. A rising tide lifts ALL ships, so as along as you communicate how great you are AND how well your competition is doing, you’ll look great.

Be Careful Online
KitchenAid’s snafu during the first debate is a great example of how important it is to keep your personal and business accounts separate. Use different browsers or apps to be completely sure that whatever you’re posting is appropriate for the account it’s being sent from.

Now go vote!

Event Planners – What Not To Forget On Event Day

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The list of last-minute items that always seem to be needed but are always left until last is nearly endless. From writing supplies to cords and tape to bottle water, the amount of little things is myriad. Over at Viktorix, Maggie Crowley typed a piece about her top six last-minute needs.

Her list of six is fantastic, but we thought of a few more that will help even the busiest of event planners.

Test The WiFi
There’s no greater frustration than wireless internet that works intermittently. While it’s expensive to supply high bandwidth connections to venues not already wired for it, taking the time to set up your wireless connection(s) to handle a crushing load of users will save tons of hassle.

Before you open the doors, test the coverage from multiple locations, then be sure to remind attendees to be courteous of others. There’s always that ONE torrenter…

Mark The Restrooms
No one likes to be asked over and over again where the restroom is, even if it’s part of their job as event staff. No attendee wants to have to ask where the bathrooms are either, so why not make big, overhead signs marking such or include them in important documentation when setting up an event?

It need not be prominent, but a simple layout with important rooms marked would be a great addition to any itinerary.

Start On Time
How many times have you heard: “we’re going to give the people that are just arriving a few minutes to get settled before we begin”? Every time we hear that phrase, we start to wonder two things: A) what does the event organizer have against the people that were hear early, and B) what’s the point of showing up on time if events always start late?

Keep track of the time and start on time. Your guests will thank you.

Assign Speaker Liaison
It’s annoying to show up as a conference speaker and not know where to go, it’s almost worse to be an organizer with no idea where your speakers are. To combat this, assign a person and place for speaker check-in. It need not be marked with a flag, but having an area that staff members can point people toward saves a lot of hassle.

Any other ideas?

How Could Marathon Pacers Help Event Planners?

In some non-super-competitive marathons, runners are met by a pacer at the 20-mile mark. They travel together the final six miles, and the pacer peels off to let their runner finish the final .2 on their own.

Most marathoners hit a wall just after twenty miles. Their bodies slow down, they feel far more tired than normal and their motivation to finish may temporarily leave them. But with a little help from a pacer, they regain their energy and complete the course.

Don’t most all-day or more events fill a bit like a marathon? Aren’t hours of learning and networking both mentally and physically exhausting? We bet they are, but we haven’t yet seen pacers to help weary attendees through the last hour of a weekend conference.

If we did, what would they look like?

Jeffrey Cufaude of Idea Architects had this idea first, so we’d like to offer a few suggestions that could help all of us.

(mental) Fitness Instructor
Yes, it seems terribly cheesy to bring in some high-energy athlete to bark at a bunch of people in dressy casual outfits, but there’s no reason that someone couldn’t help attendees regain some energy after a long day. Try a comedian.

Mini Happy Hour
For as long as we’ve been around large groups of professional people, Happy Hour has been a highlight. It’s a chance for everyone to let off some steam, have a good drink and not worry so much about their jobs. We bet even the anticipation of Happy Hour will bring positive feelings, so why not set up bars and offer drink tickets?

Buddy System
The end of events would be a great time to use the buddy system we wrote about earlier. Find a long-time attendee and pair them up with a newbie with instructions to discuss questions about the material or best practices. While many attendees will network like this without prompting, we bet more than a few people will appreciate the prompt.

What say you?

Marketing Stats For Event Planners

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In the Cluetrain Manifesto, markets are conversations. For far too many corporate marketers, marketing is nothing more than stats and budgets. While we’ll leave you to discover the amazingness that is Cluetrain Manifesto, it’s time to discuss, debunk and laud some of the 33 marketing stats Hubspot has provided.

“Failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15% increase in churn rate for existing customers.”

15%!? While too many marketing professionals question the validity of social media complaints, surely they can accept that engaging with customers can lessen the rate at which they lose customers. With customer acquisition spending always more than retaining existing customers, such a money-savings opportunity should not be missed.

“75% of B2B companies do not measure or quantify social media engagement.”

If you’re not measuring your results, how do you know what to fix and how to get better? While not everything you do will translate directly to sales (money acquisition), it should benefit the company in a measurable way.

60.2% of marketers are looking for analysis options, as well as other analytics options, in their social media management tools.

There’s no question analysis options are still in their infancy, but with so many free options available to preview, using 2-5 every month until you hit on the right one for you company shouldn’t be out of the question.

On a scale of 1-7, only 6.8% of respondents believe that social media is “very integrated” into their strategy (the highest rank for the question), while 16.7% believe that it’s not integrated at all (the lowest rank for the question).

Information silos retard innovation, lengthen the time it takes to solve customer problems and isolates employees from the customers paying their salaries. While the answer isn’t yet clear, the question should always be “how would a normal person do this?” when setting up any kind of integration of analog process and digital tools.

For more of these great analyses, check out HubSpot’s blog.

Should Event Planners Hire ‘Social’ Employees?

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An event planner’s job seemingly never ends. Early morning set ups followed by day-long problem fixing followed by late night tear downs make many event planners look like they never stop working. For many of them, we bet it sure feels like it.

Now that social media is nearly a 24/7/365 channel, event planners accustomed to handling all aspects of event planning really ARE working all the time. Because digital conversations can happen at any time, it’s important for event planners to stay on top of the chatter, whether it’s about their event, their client or something related.

But how does a busy event planner keep track of all those goings on? We recommend hiring someone to help out, but not an intern fresh out of college. ‘Social’ employees (we really need to figure out a better term), because of their job requirements, tend to not mesh well with existing structure, especially in a typical 9-5 environment. While we’re not suggesting that anyone in charge of monitoring and responding social media should be able to work from wherever they want whenever they want, it’s a good idea to adjust their work schedule based on their actual work.

Here are a few things most social employees need to thrive:

Access To Company Decision Makers
Even if it’s brief, having the ear of those in charge allow those responsible for the image and face of your company to do their job better. “Yes, that’s true, I just spoke with CEO yesterday” sounds a lot better than “Well, my manager said this is the direction we’re going, but she’s not sure”.

Flexible Work Schedule
Because conversations happen at any time, requiring social employees to be in the office 9-5 every weekday is sure to wear them out. Not only are they responsible directly to you for 40 hours a week, they’re heading home to continue their job duties. That’s not healthy for anyone.

Give Them Power
Customers like when problems are solved satisfactorily and hopefully quickly. By giving your social employee a threshold (if it costs less than $50, do it) and some leeway when it comes to customer service, you’ll make an even better impression on whomever they’re serving.

Being on the front lines isn’t for everyone, but with proper thinking and an eye for preventing problems, event planners can use social employees successfully.

See you on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Pinterest/Google+!

Learning From The Summer Olympics

There is nothing like the Summer Olympics. The World Cup is close, the Winter Olympics are pretty big too, but short of combining American political conventions and all the individual sporting events, we can’t think of a more watched international event that happens with such regularity.

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NBC’s American coverage of this year’s Olympic Games was soundly blasted via social networks; people online were upset about tape delays, spoilers and pretty much everything NBC did to broadcast the games in easily watchable chunks.

Yet the vast majority of viewers didn’t care. Ratings were through the roof as most Americans liked being able to watch a few hours of highly produced segments after work and dinner. What does this mean for future event planners?

Your most vocal detractors may not matter much.

While we don’t recommend ignoring social networks, remember to keep numbers in perspective. If most of your customers/attendees/clients enjoyed your work, focus on them first. They pay the bills, right?

The team over at BusyEvent Blog had some great thoughts on what we can learn from the Olympics. The following is our take on a few points.

Social Can’t Be Ignored
Whether it’s complaints from the viewers, athletes being suspended for racist comments or spoilers hitting the web at all hours, it’s important that event planners ride the wave of social commenting.

While social can’t be controlled, it often doesn’t need to be. Interact, listen and treat people digitally just like you would in person. It works.

Hashtag Everything #notreally
Hashtags have been used to denote sarcasm, meta commentary and to make searching for results concerning a particular event easier, but a little hashtagging goes a long way. If you’re an event planner, ask yourself if each session needs a specific hashtag and if a specific hashtag is needed at all.

Yes, it’s great publicity when hashtags trend and attract viewers not at the event, but how unless they have something to add to the existing conversation, it’s just more noise.

Respect Your Celebs
While your conference may not attract internationally or even nationally famous faces, plenty of seemingly regular people are quite internet famous. Why not help them promote your event more? We’re not saying every event needs a VIP room, but doing something a little extra for influential people should help both sides.

Unless it’s money. If it’s money, be sure to compare that against your event ROI.

See you during the Winter Olympics!