Hosting an event? Tips for getting started
The following information about event coordination was adapted with permission from Seniors’ Week Event Planning Guide by the Seniors Advisory Council for Alberta.
Answers to the following questions will help you develop a good event plan. This is just a starting point — as you work on the event, other questions may come up for you to consider.
- Who do you want to participate in the event? What are their interests or skills? Do they have any characteristics that will affect what you do such as limited mobility, vision or hearing?
- Who do you want to help create or present the event?
- Will you need volunteers?
- Who do you need to contact to ensure the event can occur?
- Do you need to get permits?
- Do you want to invite special guests, such as your MLA or MP, your mayor or reeve, municipal councilors, physicians, pharmacists, physiotherapists, fitness instructors, educators or artists, and so on?
- Will you need to invite performers or presenters?
- Do you need to set up a planning group?
- What resources do you have? Do you have what you need to create the event, or do you need to secure resources from others?
- What will people who come to your event do, including participants and special guests?
- Will the event be inside or outside?
- Do you need to reserve the venue?
- Do you have a contingency plan — for example, if you are hosting an outside event, do you have a plan for bad weather?
- Does your location pose problems for people who have difficulty moving around or use walking aids? Does it have good enough acoustics for those who have difficulty hearing?
- Is the location large enough for the people you expect? Does it have adequate services and facilities, such as bathrooms or kitchen space?
- Are there special considerations — the need for a stage, a kitchen, Internet access, for example — that affect where you will hold the event?
- What is the best date and time for the activity? Think about who is going to be coming, the availability of special guests or performers, as well as what you plan to do.
- How will you organize the activities for the day?
- How will you ensure things get done?
- How will you publicize and promote the event?
The Power of Partnerships
You can multiply your resources and share the fun and the work of holding an event by partnering with another community or group. Partners can be found in your community or in nearby communities, and can include:
- organizations with similar interests or who work with similar people
- educational and public institutions, like schools or health care facilities
- commercial businesses
- service clubs
- religious groups
- cultural groups
- arts, sports or recreation associations
- libraries or literary groups
- emergency medical services/fire departments
- healthcare clinics
- fitness centres.
If partnering does not work, you may be able to find other ways to include other communities, organizations or individuals. Here are some ideas:
- Encourage local businesses to become involved. Ask them to sponsor part of the event, advertising or give-away items, or to help promote your event to their customers.
- Identify and contact businesses or associations that match your event theme or idea (Keep Active, Check Your Medications, Watch Your Step, Speak Up About Dizziness). Examples of possible partners are local recreation centres, sports equipment retailers, shoe retailers, pharmacies, health clinics, rehabilitation centres, snow removal businesses, residential architectural/construction businesses, drop-in centres, religious organizations, etc.
- Create a role for local youth. Is there something like promotional flyers delivery or event tasks for your event that could help a child or youth earn a badge or complete a school requirement? Schools may want to partner and promote a grandparents falls prevention day.
How do I get media involved?
Newsrooms are extremely busy places. In many communities, newspapers or radio stations may have only one or two reporters, and, in some cases, those reporters must cover a number of communities. There is no guarantee that media can attend your event. But, to increase your chances, here are some things you can do:
- Find out what the deadlines are for the media you want to use. If you want to use a weekly newspaper, for example, their deadlines can be well in advance of the publication date. While you are at it, find out which reporter would be most likely to cover the event.
- Write a news release or media notice about your event and send it to the media at least two weeks before the event. Follow this up with a call to the news editor or reporter. This is especially important if you are looking for advance coverage of the event as part of promoting it to the community.
- Discuss your story idea with the editor or reporter in advance. The reporter may be able to work with you on story ideas, photo opportunities and time lines. See if they have any needs that you can help them with, such as setting up interviews.
- Talk to the editor or reporter about doing a feature story connected to the event in advance, to which information about your event can be added. For example, they could profile an individual who has experienced a fall or is taking action to prevent falls, a local exercise program, identified falls hazards in the local community, etc.
- Two or three days before your event, follow up with the reporter about the main attraction of your event, update the list of special guests planning to attend or note any information changes, such as to the time of the event.
- It is very important to have one person who is the main contact for the media, and who the media can easily reach. Make sure this is someone who is comfortable talking to the media and knowledgeable about the event, as often reporters will start or conduct their interviews on the phone.
- Use the news release and news article templates provided by Finding Balance to make your job easier.