At the suggestion of Elana Silverman of PR Thoughts, I've decided to share the good, the bad and the ugly experiences I have had as a sample for anyone who may be considering event planning in the future.
- Feeling an absolute sense of accomplishment when I receive positive feedback from event-goers and my supervisors at the end of a long, chaotic day. Bonus - when someone tells me that my event was the highlight of their summer.
- Unique tasks keep every day interesting, such as carving 400 pumpkins, watching 65,000 rubber ducks float down the river, hiring a fire-juggler, stuffing 20,000 Easter eggs, and coordinating staff members I've never met before.
- Never having to experience 9-5 cubicle fever.
- Interactions with the media. The best experience yet was for the "Haunted Hayride" - I gave an interview while driving a reporter around on a golf cart through a dark orchard.
- Helping to excecute events that raised thousands of dollars for local foster kids.
- Irregular hours. (Notice I've listed this as a good thing, too.) I often start my day at 5 a.m. and end at 11 p.m. There are no breaks except for the few moments I take to shove a protein bar in my mouth and down some water. I might make it to the restroom if I don't get called on my radio first.
- Events are very stressful. For some reason, I always manage to stay calm but often people around me don't. Tempers flare and timelines become tight. I've learned to be prepared for anything and everything.
- The day-of portion of the event can seem anticlimactic compared to the lead time. After spending six months preparing for every detail, a four-hour event sometimes feels like a weak payoff.
- Crises. I've experienced my share and they are never easy. Children become separated from their parents, linens catch fire, bounce houses deflate while kids are still bouncing -- and most likely, things will go wrong when the most important person at the event is there to witness it.
- I've actually been asked to remove goose "droppings" by hand from a park. Not kidding.
- Mistakes can be very public. When you submit a late report, it's usually just your immediate supervisor that finds out. When you forget to confirm a vendor, thousands of attendees with an event map in-hand are disappointed.
Fortunately, despite all of the challenges I've encountered in my years of event planning, the one issue I have never had to face is an event that did not create positive public relations. Knowing that I've created memorable experiences for people makes me feel very good about the work that I do. Overall, I think that events are exciting, challenging and a great way for someone to strengthen their leadership capabilities and time-management skills. Perhaps I shouldn't be suprised that so many public relations students want to get their feet wet with events.