From an aspiring PR professional’s point of view, planning an event is like putting together a meticulous puzzle. You have to pay close attention to detail from day one to avoid missteps down the road.

I have the opportunity to plan one of the most important events for University of Oregon seniors finishing up the public relations sequence: Professional Portfolio Reviews. Portfolio Reviews is a daylong event where communication professionals from the Willamette Valley and Portland areas critique the portfolios of students in our capstone public relations class. Here are five event planning tips I learned from my experience with the reviews.

1. Book the venue as far in advance as possible. No matter what type of function you’re planning, it is crucial to have a venue set in stone before sending out an invitation or announcement. Also, make sure you have enough wiggle room in your timeline for unexpected complications with your chosen venue. 

2. Create a separate timeline for media outreach. Prepare all media materials as soon as possible so that materials can be approved and sent out on time. For a big event, you want to be on the media’s radar several weeks in advance.

3. Feed your guests. If you want people to take time out of their days to attend your event, give them    an incentive. Plan a simple, budget-bound menu with a wide variety of choices, and don’t forget to include vegetarian and gluten-free options!

4. Have an itinerary. Send a detailed schedule to every guest a week prior to your event. At a minimum, the itinerary should include times and locations, including breakfast and lunch schedules.

5. Expect the unexpected. Be prepared for anything, from catering complications to extreme weather conditions. During the beginning stages of the plan, sit down with your team and create a list of everything that needs to be handled with a timeline of when the tasks need to be completed. Preparation is the key to success for any event.

Whether you are planning an event as simple as a birthday party or as extravagant as a wedding, these guidelines will help you hold a successful event. Remember, things won’t always go the way you expect but having a detailed plan will prevent unnecessary mishaps. Do you have any tips on how to plan a fabulous event? Tell us in the comments below.

Holly Jefferis is a senior at the University of Oregon, studying public relations and minoring in business administration. After she graduates in June, she plans to work at a PR agency in the West or East Coast that represents clients in the food, hospitality and lifestyle industries. Follow her on Twitter here


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