I recently took on a small project managing marketing communications, content creation and speaker coordination for a corporation’s internal leadership meeting. TE Connectivity designs and manufactures connectivity and sensor solutions for a variety of industries. Its Communications Solutions Group kicked off the fiscal year with a three-day strategy discussion and simulation exercise for 200 of its leaders.
A team from the client, agencies, and freelancers worked hard to deliver a well-executed event. We worked so well together that we decided to take a group photo and it was hard to say good-bye to each other at the end of the event. Working with agencies on multiple events and product launches, I have never taken a photo with the agency team on-site. I become friends with everyone on the team. What a wonderful experience!
I attributed the team’s success to the following:
Establish regular communications with status templates
David was our project lead. For anyone who has done events before, we all know there are myriad of details from theme creation, agenda setting, on-site experience design, registration, keynote production to mobile app creation. David acknowledged that he was not an expert and was initially in danger of being overwhelmed with all the details.
Rather than getting overwhelmed, he proactively established a weekly update meeting. He also created a template for all of us to provide weekly updates on the accomplished tasks from the previous week, the upcoming future deliverables, pending issues and any issues needing help. Regular meetings with member updates turned out to be a great way to keep everyone on the same page. As a lead, he also made an effort to manage by deliverables without micro-managing tasks.
Clearly define roles and responsibilities
Initially, we didn’t have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. We didn’t know who was doing what. Through weekly meetings, we talked things through. Lena focused on everything related to the award ceremony while Lynelle led event logistics with Lynda. I concentrated on content and marketing communications. Roz focused on the IT Wi-Fi set-up on-site. Stacey managed keynote and award ceremony production. Client agency and independent freelancers worked very closely together with weekly agency calls led by the event agency, BI Worldwide.
Scope creep is common for event production and management. Additional event elements were added as we worked through the agenda. Some additional tasks were divided among the existing team members, some tasks required more team members from the agency or client itself. For example, David brought in Emily to help the launch of the event’s mobile app. Erin became part of the team when a key internal initiative became part of the agenda. Everything would funnel through David, who was also our main point of contact for senior management.
Embrace last-minute changes, yet push for real-time decisions
Since this was an internal leadership meeting, senior staff of this division wanted to understand almost every aspect of the event, from the agenda, attendee gift giveaway, and food menus to the emcee scripts. Since senior staff travels a lot, at times we were forced to wait for some decisions to be made.
Also, some decisions that we made were overturned by management at the last minute. In general, last minute management requests or changes are very typical. We just went with the flow. However, we also made it very clear to management if there was any incremental cost, due to the changes. Communicate early to avoid surprises.
My corporate experience has given me a solid background to execute enterprise-centric projects. I understand when a client tells me that I need to get brand assets from the corporate team. I know that they mean the corporate marketing group. I am used to quickly assessing the working process between the division, the corporate team, and other functions such as finance, HR, legal, and IT.
Being in the corporate world for almost twenty years, I was on the client side working with agencies and vendors closely. As an independent, the big change is being on the other side working as a vendor serving corporate clients.