Using Events to “Speak Easy” With Your Audience

One of the things I’m most proud of in my career is the development of an annual event for the DuBard School for Language Disorders called the DuBard School Speakeasy. 2016 will mark the fourth year for the event, which has grown exponentially each year.

Today, I had the opportunity to present to my peers at the PRAM State Conference about this event and overall tips and tools for developing and successfully implementing events at their own organizations.

For those who attended the Cathead Vodka session instead (yeah, I would have been there too!), or just want some general info . . .

Here are a few takeaways from our hour session:

  • Your event isn’t about your organization, it’s about your customers.
    • What do they want? Why do they want to attend? Will it strengthen your relationship? Will it hurt other relationships?
    • Most importantly, how can you leverage this event to better connect with your audience?
  • Picking a date is never easy.
    • Don’t just check your local calendars, look across the state and beyond for big events that may take your target market away from you.
  • We all know location is important.
    • Take into account all internal and external factors, such as the people you’ll be working with and what they’ll provide for you vs. what you’ll have to bring in.
    • Get down to the nitty gritty — bathrooms, clean-up and other things that aren’t always top of mind.
  • Is someone else locally already hosting an event like yours?
    • Then don’t do it. Try to think outside the box. Look nationally and internationally for ideas if you’re stumped.
  • Tips and tools:
    • Use your extended network to pull together an event planning team. Make sure they’re diverse, and that you encourage honest opinions and feedback.
    • Start creating your event tools IMMEDIATELY. These are your checklists, budgets, timeline, contacts and ideas.
    • Create setup and breakdown checklists for your volunteers.
    • Always have a “Plan B” for your vital elements.
    • Promote. Promote. Promote. Partnerships will help with this.
  • THINK:
    • What can you do to make your event stand out?
    • What can you offer guests that no one else can?
    • How can you make a difference for your organization with an event?

And now, I get to play Oprah.

YOU get a spreadsheet, and YOU get a spreadsheet, and YOU get a spreadsheet — Everyone gets a spreadsheet!

Really, though, here are a few templates and examples to help you get started on getting organized for your next event.

Note: These documents will only be available for download for the month of April.

Please add your recommendations and tips for creating successful events for your organization!



3 lessons learned from live tweeting

Yesterday I did my first live tweeting of an event. Well, I’ve live tweeted from conferences before, giving tidbits of what I’ve learned throughout the event, but this was different.

I was asked to join the Southern Miss Social Media Suite for the Men’s Basketball game against Middle Tennessee. Let me put this out there: I know nothing about basketball. I told the person who invited me this fact, but they were still confident I’d be fine.

Leading up to the event, I started to get a little more nervous about my live tweeting sports ability. What the heck am I going to tweet about? To add to it, I realized more and more people would be following me through this venture – people that I respect and look up to personally and professionally. No pressure.

After my first erroneous tweet (I gave credit to the wrong player for a goal), I was feeling a little down on myself. But, I corrected the mistake and moved on. Overall, it turned out to be a great experience – if for nothing else other than to give me some real live-tweeting experience. So, here’s what I learned that could possibly help you out:

  1. It’s all about the prep work

And I didn’t do enough. I should have brushed up on basketball slang, found out who our top players were, researched the opposing team, followed other Southern Miss fans on Twitter and more. Think about what/where/who you’re going to be live tweeting about and see what you can learn before the event that will aid your efforts.

  1. Atmosphere matters

Southern Miss sports had it pretty spot on too. We were located in a suite that minimized distractions and gave us a clear view of the court, coaches, crowd and scoreboard.

Atmosphere also includes the folks you’re live tweeting with. Are you sitting next to someone who’s going to distract you (because it takes a lot of concentration), or are you with people who are going to complement your efforts? I was seated between a friend of mine who also works in PR and a track and field coach. We each brought our own strengths to the social media suite and relied on others for support when needed. “Who just made that shot?”

  1. You’re going to mess up

And it feels awful. Things are happening so fast and your fingers are moving as fast as they can — something’s bound to go wrong. Depending on how quickly you catch your error (and how big of an error it is) you can delete it or address it. Either way, hike up your britches and move on!

Every new opportunity is a learning opportunity, as outside of your typical realm as it may be.

This was my first live tweeting experience, so I still have a lot to learn.

What are some things you’ve learned from live tweeting?


Coincidence or Well Planned Marketing?

I visited the website today to look into creating an infographic for a Facebook post I’m planning to put out in a couple of weeks. The last infographic I created on the site was over a year ago. I get marketing emails about once a month from the company – I typically just scan them and hit delete.

Until today.

I visited the website and started looking at templates. About 30 seconds after being logged on the site, a new email popped up in my inbox from I honestly looked over my shoulder to see if one of their marketing team was peering through a window watching me work and clicking “send” on his marketing email. It was creepy.

Was that just a really good coincidence? Or is there a way to track site visitors and automatically send them an email when they log into your site?

If there is a way to do that, would you use it? Or would you be afraid your customers think you’re a creepy internet stalker?