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How to Develop an Event Programme

You’ve selected a venue for your event. That’s great! But now what? Event managers are often more focused on the practical logistics and marketing, but you must consider

  • Developing event objectives
  • Aligning the event content with objectives
  • Event programme options
  • Creating engaging content for attendees

Whatever the event, it is vital to begin with a consideration of connections that already exist or could be created between the client organization and the event selected. An explicit, communicable ‘fit’ between the two is required. You wouldn’t expect a cigarette company sponsoring a cancer charity event, for example! So it’s important to consider throughout the process of constructing your event and its content who others might view the offering. But not only are you trying not to offend, but also your aim is to develop and deliver an event that sits harmoniously with the client, the target attendees and organizations they might represent.

Event Programme Options

The following is a short list of the different event options that might be considered for PR purposes; these may be stand-alone events in their own right, or contribute towards a multi-faceted event held over a longer period of time:

  • Corporate hospitality at existing
  • Parties, including celebrity guests, visiting notables, dinners with or without speakers and private viewings/exhibition launches
  • Press briefings, new product launches, speaking opportunities for key individuals at external events
  • Charity events and sponsorship, community events
  • Seminars, workshops, conferences, roadshows, exhibitions, team building
  • Social activities and refreshments

Each option has its own opportunities and limitations. Read Event Planning and Management for more information about each event type.

Event Objectives – Going Deeper

Event planners must think about good practice and curating event content from a process-driven perspective. At the start, the team needs to agree the objectives with the client. Consider the following:

  • Is there timely information to disseminate or receive?
  • Can the information be gathered via an existing planned event, or is the subject matter ‘stand alone’?
  • Can the information be distributed by a cheaper communication method, such as a brochure?
  • How will you include delegate participation as part of the event?
  • Do you have access to speakers who represent a range of expertise or views to include in your programme?

The objectives for any event should be viewed within the context of the client organization’s overall strategy. For a detailed example of a process linking an event aim to its objectives refer to Event Planning and Management (pages 97-103).

Event Content

Once you’ve identified your objectives, you need to develop the programme or content. This may include guest speakers, discussion topics, entertainment, activities, food and refreshments. It’s not only the client who might want to input into the event content –attendees (and the organizations they represent) the media and shareholders might also want a say. Working with these stakeholder groups will craft stronger and more successful outcomes.

Read Event Planning and Management by Ruth Dowson and David Bassett for more tips plus checklists and templates to help you run a successful event.

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