It’s 6:30 am and I wake up in a cold sweat. I am 32 miles from Salt Lake City and 7,000 ft above sea level in the picturesque town of Park City, Utah. Our team will be throwing one of the coolest parties during Sundance.
Before I picked the names of the specialty cocktails or ordered the passed appetizers I had to know all the details. What is going to make the client feel like we crushed it? How will the client know if the guests had a good time? What does the client want the guests to know as a result of this party? The magic question I needed to ask before brainstorming was, “HOW WILL THE CLIENT MEASURE SUCCESS?”
This is the event’s producer’s workflow I follow when producing an event.
Know the Objective
Why are we throwing this party? Is the event happening during Sundance? Why is it so cold outside? I wonder if we should serve hot chocolate? Maybe we should have a reindeer? These are the thoughts that immediately run through my mind, it’s normal. I immediately jump to the event ideas before I even learned the objective. The first step in the event producer’s workflow is to understand the client’s objectives
The image below is used to illustrate how client information is often misinterpreted.
The client objective defines the “what” you must do. So Listen! This is where we must separate ourselves, our experiences, and all those ideas we have running through our mind and take the time to hear our client. Yes, we will have a million opportunities to shoot the shit, but nothing waste more time that re-aligning the events purpose half-way through.
Know the Budget
Okay, knowing your budget is the cornerstone of the event producer’s workflow. Period. There is no way of getting around it. Receiving the client’s budget feels like that moment when they reveal the secret ingredient you must use on one of those TV chef challenges. Imagine the moment in the meeting when the client lists all their requirements, and then it happens, the fog rolls into the room. A curtain falls behind the client, a microphone on a pedestal glides in and you hear the sound of drumrolls. The client gracefully stands up looks out to the teleprompter and reads, “The amount that you will get for the entire production of this party will be…” There is this long pause, you look over at your colleagues and you close your eyes. “The total budgeted amount is $250,000 all in.”
We will have plenty of time to evaluate whether our budget is sufficient once we go through all the other exercises. Whatever, we do we will always refer back to the budget.
Know the Creative Brief
At this point in the event producer’s workflow, we will know the client’s requirements and wants. If the objective defines the “what,” the creative brief helps to define the “how.”
When working alongside an agency you should most definitely be involved in the development of the creative brief. The reason you need to be involved in the establishment of the most important of important documents is because you must interpret the client’s vision so the creative team will understand the client’s problem. It is not your responsibility to answer the client’s problem in the brief. Ultimately, this gives your creative team the parameters in which they can go wild.
Here are a couple of links to help in understanding and writing simple and effective creative briefs.
Know the Costs
Sweet, now we have the creative team’s amazing idea and we need to figure out the costs to execute this. How much will it cost to have fabrications done? How much is a neon sign? Fuck… Don’t worry, this is the part of the event producer’s workflow where we reach out to our network of trusted vendors and start compiling estimated costs. Time for another rule…
Rule # 385 – Make Sure to Connect
It is important to make as many contacts as you can. Whenever you work an event or activation connect with the various vendors while you are there. Ask probing questions, watch how they operate. When you meet a vendor who cares about their role within your event as much as you care about your event, maintain contact with them. You will come to find that they will become more valuable to you than beyond this event.
The cost of our event will vary depending on the requirements but getting estimates is a necessary step before we begin work. We will have to juggle a lot by this point so remember that budget. It is best to remember no matter which vendor we reach out to, we won’t be awarding anyone anything. Once we can factor in every possible event cost then we can move forward. Below are a few resources that will help you to better budget and cost out your event.
Know the Vendors
We are getting there. I promise. We finally know where we are going to spend all of our money and we got everyone’s approval. We will need to partner with the right vendors for this activation. In this step of the event producer’s workflow it is important that we vet our vendors appropriately for the event. We are only as strong as our weakest vendor. Being mindful of this step in the event producer’s workflow will put us one step closer to a successful event.
Below are some interesting reads on working with vendors.
Know the Audience
When we plan an event we may not be responsible for publicizing the event. However, it is important to know who is being invited. Not all events will be open to the public. Some events will have curated invites of influencers, VIPs, and employees of the organization. Being aware of who is invited should be of importance to you. As the producer knowing the needs of the various attendees usually dictates how they are catered to.
Another thing to take into consideration is how to WOW our guests upon arrival. The entrance will be the first opportunity we have to set the tone of our event. There is no better way to excite guests than when they first walk up to the event. You may also think, ‘shit, that is one more person or vendor we will have to pay for.’ You are damn right.
Regardless, if you are responsible for publicity of the event, make sure you are honest with yourself and your ability to handle this important role.
See below for a few reads on the grand entrances and guest registrations.
Know the Project
Our train is running full steam ahead now. The song by McFadden & Whitehead ‘Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now’ is now running through my head. I’m playing it right now as I write this.
While we run all over the place managing the vendors and staff and the creatives along with the logistics we now have to document and communicate milestones. You guessed it, we are also now the project manager. We were the architect that sourced all the elements to make our event sparkle. Now, as the project manager, we will piece together those elements and make our event shine.
While you will be tempted to sway from updating your project tracker but being diligent will give you the leg up on successfully executing your event.
Here are a few articles that you may find helpful in creating your own project trackers.
Know the Payments
As proud as we should by now we are not done yet. While all those vendors are prepping for their role in our event, we might have to start paying some of them. While meticulously sourcing vendors, negotiating cost and managing timelines, keeping up on all the accounting is another activity that we need to handle. The best way to keep a vendor happy is by paying them on time and helping them get more business.
Know What the Hell is Going On
We made it!!! It is now the day of the event. Now, waking up in a cold sweat isn’t that bad after all. On the day of every event, we might wake up scared shitless, it is just a reality. But not to worry, because we followed the event producer’s workflow, everyone on our event team knows their responsibility. Wait, I should back up just a bit.
It goes without saying that we know everything that needs to happy during the day. Face it, we wrote the plan. Does everyone knows what they are doing? Do yourself this one thing, – WRITE IT DOWN. And once you are done writing it down, SEND IT OUT. Communication is your best friend. I once read that only way to succeed is to make sure everyone around you knows how you plan to do it. We need a Run of Show.
The Run of Show is a compilation of each vendor, staff, and volunteer’s role, times, and responsibilities. As a result of our compiling the necessary document while gathering information from the previous steps. Now we pass that tailored information on to everyone. If you are interested in step-by-step instructions on creating a Run of Show check out the link below.
Know the Wrap
Holy Shit. We made it through the event, it’s 3 am and sipping on a glass of bourbon on the rocks and a glass of champagne. Oh yeah, the struggle is real. Everyone else is off to that after party and all we want to do is put on our sneakers and go to bed. Well most people do, I, on the other hand, love a great after party, especially if I’m not planning it. But, before we go off and drink ourselves into your bed, there is one last step in the event producer’s workflow. Actually, a couple but I will group it all together for now.
Some of the things involved with a wrap up include; making sure vendors loadout timely. Making sure the vendors get final payment. Ensuring that all deposits are credited. Closing out all the financials. And don’t forget about those KPIs.
Now You Know
So now you know my event producer’s workflow. Are you ready to handle this amount of detail? Looking forward to getting your hands dirty? Are you ready to spend countless hours working on budgets? Are you looking forward to trying to coordinate times of all your vendors? Also, remember that while this is all happening, your client is going to need updates through the whole process. Well, get ready… Because it’s going to be one helluva journey.
If you are looking for other resources online check out my previous blog post titled “Event Producer’s Online Resources.”
- client objectives cost of an event creative brief event budget event management event planning event producer event registration Event Wrap Reports paying vendors project management Run of Show vendor management Working with vendors