Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: Event Marketing - a Retrospective

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Event Marketing - a Retrospective

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Lately all I talk about is the web, online marketing, social media, analytics, blah blah blah. My true love is Event Marketing, that is where I started my career and it is the space where I would consider myself truly an expert. I wanted to take a look back to some of my more successful programs and some of the more fun moments of my career.

My event career started all the way back in college, I knew I wanted to work in events from the time I was a teenager. I went to school for PR/Communications and in college I was the PR Director of the Undergraduate Student Government where my first event was a Voter Registration Drive. We hosted the drive outdoors and had a band (I can't remember who it was), I had the pleasure of booking the band (by phoning their agents in LA), negotiating the contract and setting up the entire event. I was 20 years old and I was in charge of managing a $4000.00 budget for the execution of the event and the promotion of the event. It was awesome. The pleasure of bringing people together for an entertainment purposes and being able to deliver a greater message was extremely satisfying.

Upon graduation, it was very difficult to find a job. The job market was terrible at that time and entry level PR jobs were paying about $18K annually. I struggled for about a year and a half before I got my first job in advertising at DDB. I worked in now dismantled group called Beyond DDB, we handled event marketing, promotional marketing, sponsorship, direct mail, all the "below the line" work, etc. The way I got the job will have to be another blog entry because it is a story in and of itself.

At DDB, I worked on several different projects for major companies and brands, probably some of the biggest projects of my life and I was likely too young to realize that it was kind of a big deal. My most memorable project was a cause-marketing program we did for a financial services client. Consumers nominated their favorite charities and wrote a brief description of why they felt strongly about their charity. I put together a scoring system for the charities and we chose a total of five charities to receive donations. My favorite part of this was reading the heart-felt entries from the consumers, how inspired they were or the assistance they received from their charity of choice. We were able to donate money to some lesser known, smaller charities that were doing really great things yet probably had a harder time raising funds.

Another favorite job of mine was for a smaller, promotional marketing agency with large CPG clients. I was hired to work on the sponsorship of a large scale, four day, festival on the East Coast as well as other promotional marketing programs that came up. I really liked planning the festival, there were many arduous details to iron out with the festival producers and I liked the process of figuring out all of the many problems. This event was beneficial for the client because of the tremendous publicity received on the East Coast.

My favorite project while with this agency was working with a client who was a one of the sponsors for the MTV Music Awards. We planned a singing contest for this client in multiple markets and winners of the contest won a trip for two to the MTV Awards. I got to be the chaperon for the winners on-site. In addition to managing the contest, I planned all of the on-site events for the winners with the climax being a private meet and greet with the band Destiny's Child at a recording studio in Manhattan. And, of course, a trip to the Awards show. I thought the highlight would have been the Awards but that wasn't the case. The highlight of this project turned out to be watching how thrilled and excited these kids, the winners, were to meet Beyonce. Watching them light up, their enthusiasm and the their excitment was not something I was expecting. It took me back to a time when music ruled my world and it was tremendously rewarding to be able to give that night to those kids - a night where their dreams came true.

Me at the MTV Awards

More recently, I worked for a venue where the majority of my events were planning B2B Customer Events. I particularly like planning customer events because you can literally SEE them working. Sales guys are able to communicate with their customers on a very personal level, away from their wives and bosses, get them drunk, entertain them, and hopefully, continue or grow their relationship. I like fast paced work environments and at this job, I was able to plan upwards of 30 events per month depending on the season. I had clients with significant event budgets for one-off events, clients one would not expect, like Plastics or Chemical companies. These clients loved hosting over the top events and I had the pleasure of throwing them.


Conventioneers with Samba Dancers

The Ever Popular "Shot-Luge"

Aside from my professional work in Event Marketing, I also do a lot of charity work where I am able to utilize my skills as an "expert" in planning, promoting, and executing events. For several years I worked with the Cinema Chicago and the Junior Board to plan various events.

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