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Successful Event Planning: Do’s & Don’ts

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When planning an event that’s a few months or even a year away, it can always be tempting to keep putting things off. Or to have a to-do list and revisit each item in your mind as opposed to actually checking them off.

Right now, I am in the process of planning A Silent Night Out auction with Delmarva Public Radio. So I’ve come up with some basic do’s and don’ts of event planning that directly relate to my experience.

DO’S
1.) What: Do decide what the event will be. What do you hope to accomplish? Don’t just say, “We’re going to have a bake sale!” Is your goal to fundraise or is it to encourage volunteers to help out with your organization? Because a bake sale is a fundraising event. Tailor your event to the needs of your organization and during each step of the event planning process, refer back to your original purpose to guide you.

2.) When: Do establish an exact date for the event as soon as possible. All other elements of the event will revolve around this basic detail. For example, the title of The Silent Night Out auction was chosen because the date, December 8, was chosen first. The winter and holiday theme first the “when” of the event. Find out if other community events or significant holidays are occurring around the same time and schedule around them.

3.) Where: Do secure a location as soon as possible. Venues often book months in advance and, as in the auction’s case, sometimes require a written proposal of what the event will be and how many people are expected to attend.

DONT’S
1.) Don’t confirm until you have confirmed! Twice! Before scheduling or booking something outside of your organization such as a band or catering, confirm the date and time with the venue as well as your own organization. The worst PR is to waste someone’s time.

2.) Don’t wait to promote your event. Once you have the basics confirmed, begin making flyers or posting on social media. Movies send out teaser trailers to peak an audience’s interest. Then later they release the actual movie trailer closer to the release date. You should do the same! Get the public interested and involved. Make sure they have it on their calendars.

3.) Don’t procrastinate. Event planning does not have to be as stressful as we make it. The last week before the event should not be when you are rushing around doing things that you’ve had on your to-do list since the very beginning. If you have small tasks, do them first. If you have to wait for another task to be done before you can get to it, then use that as your motivation to begin on that task instead.

Let’s see if I can take my own advice and make The Silent Night Out auction the least stressful event of my year. I’ll keep you guys updated!

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Membership Drive Basics

If there is one thing I’m learning at Delmarva Public Radio, it’s that a membership drive is no walk in the park. A pledge drive for radio is not just an event, it’s a week-long affair. Almost a conference. So if you’re planning a conference, maybe these tips will help you too! The purpose, mission statement, and nitty-gritty management details are majorly important, but for now I just want you to try to remember the basics.

1.) Set goals.
Set a goal for how much money you are hoping to pull in. This will keep everyone motivated to earn and gives you the ability to evaluate if your drive was a success or not.

2.) Find volunteers.
Send out emails or mailings to members and past volunteers letting them know the dates and requirements of the pledge drive. Ask them for their help! Contact local community service organizations or schools and tell them that hours answering phones count towards community service requirements.

3.) Schedule, schedule, schedule.
Have a schedule for who is going to pitch on air, at what time, on which day. Your coworkers will appreciate the schedule and it allows you to know that all shifts are covered. Also, have a schedule for volunteers. Make sure they are committed to at least 1-2 hours of work so there is enough time to at least train them on how to handle callers and fill out pledge forms. Have a spreadsheet with a row for each hour of the day and a column for each phone that will be taking calls. Fill in the volunteers names to keep track and once again make sure that all shifts are covered.

4.) Give perks to staff and volunteers. The “what’s in it for me?” mentality will always be present in even your most dedicated volunteers, so show them! Call local restaurants and coffee houses and ask them if they’d be willing to donate breakfast or lunch to the pledge drive. Create another schedule of who is going to be donating on what day and make sure that if they are unable to deliver the food or drinks to you, that you are able to arrange transport to get them.

5.) Have fun!
Create a theme! Decorate the volunteer room like it’s Saturday Night Fever or a Winter Wonderland. A cheery atmosphere and satisfied volunteers will spread the feeling of a positive organization while keeping everyone enthused to pull off the best drive possible.

Good luck!

A Public Radio Overhaul: Press Release Chaos

First thing’s first. I recognize that I’m going to be spilling my experience with Delmarva Public Radio all over this blog. You may get tired of hearing about it, but I’m not saying “look at me and my fancy radio position.” Every job is cool and exciting in a different way and I’m just ready to share the inside knowledge of what I get to witness and be a part of as the Membership Assistant.

Moving on! Today was a huge day for Delmarva Public Radio!

After the appointment of a new General Manager this summer, Dana E. Whitehair, Delmarva Public Radio is doing a much needed overhaul of the station. Salisbury University has invested a lot of time and money into sustaining public radio and DPR is doing its part to generate and keep listeners by making changes.

Today, I arrived at the office in a purple plaid shirt and jeans believing it to be a normal data-input/money processing type of day. Boy, was I wrong. My director Angela Byrd receives a telephone call while I’m in her office and she looks at me, smiles, tells the person on the phone that I am there as well as what I am wearing, gives a thumbs up and then hangs up. I had just become the student fill-in for a press release photo op.

After the Public Relations director for the college arrived and I borrowed my boss’s shirt for the photo, we rushed to gather information about the new programming that Delmarva Public Radio will begin airing on Monday. This press release is the first time anyone outside of the station will know that DPR is changing its format. DPR listeners are loyal and eternally supportive, but they are also the majority funding behind the station. The press release had to assure the community that the programming changes will catch the attention of a broader spectrum of listeners and ultimately lead to a stronger station. And it did!

In between photo ops and press release emails, we ran to the publications office to submit work orders for a new logo, bumper stickers, and an updated media kit. Publicity and promotion are no joke! And the public relations world moves faster than you realize.

In the end, Delmarva Public Radio officially announced its new programming schedule. And I finally realized that the real world is just as chaotic as the world of homework and college classes.

Sometimes you just have to wing it!

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Delmarva Public Radio Conquers the Social Media Trinity

The Social Media Trinity is composed of blogs, microblogging, and social networks. This is according to Lon Safko who wrote The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools & Strategies for Business Success. And if the title has the word Bible in it, he must know what he’s talking about right?

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At Delmarva Public Radio, we’ve been able to build at least a small following on each of these social media platforms. Kara Dahl Russell, our classical radio host, who has the softest sweetest voice you could imagine, has been able to manage and maintain a classical music blog for the station. Listeners can interact and ask questions if they would like, but she also shares the newest cds that she receives each week so listeners can know what to look forward to and what period the music hails from. Personally, I am not a huge fan of classical music so I understand it is easy to be dismissive of a blog such as this, but those who are classical listeners take full advantage. Kara spread Delmarva Public Radio’s and WSCL’s name thorough out the digital world with the creation of an easy to use blog.

Delmarva Public Radio also has a Twitter which is used quite often! I am lucky enough to be one of a few staff members who are able to post and retweet information to followers. At the moment, DPR’s Twitter is used primarily to tweet about which musical selections are coming up on WSCL and at what time, as well as links to new articles posted on www.delmarvapublicradio.net. Letting listeners know what to look forward to allows them to tune in to their favorites and journalism posts keep DPR active as a reliable source for news. What we really need to work on is our interaction with followers. I began thanking Twitter users if they followed us hoping to inspire conversations and I tried to start participating in trending topics but it is rare that they apply. Hopefully, we can create our own hash tag for the membership drive this fall and spread awareness through that!

Finally, DPR is best when it comes to social networking. Our listeners are not as active online so it is rare for conversations to begin on our Facebook page, but they are active in viewing and liking posts. On the rare occasion that they do comment or inspire thought, we are at a disadvantage because of the public relations aspect of monitoring the page. We want to encourage thought, but these comments are often made on articles related to political and social issues and we must remain partisan. Over the summer, I created a Pinterest page for the radio station. I have boards such as DPR Events and DPR News to spread awareness of what the station is doing. However, I also have boards for cool tips and tricks and creative ideas. These boards allow Pinterest users who may not even know who we are to find us and repin our content. This social network has been a way to connect with potential listeners through shared interests.

Delmarva Public Radio has come a long way with the social media trinity but there are still improvements to be made. I look forward to making them!

 

 

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