Lessons & Triumphs of Planning Red4Joplin
Posted by: Sarah Vining
Sunday, January 1st, 2012
In an interview with Lindsey Rosenthal of Events for Good, we discovered the details of her fund-raising experience for “Show Me” Support for Joplin, a red-tie event she planned in less than 3 weeks for Joplin residents and sisters Kiki L’Italien and Kylee Coffman (former Joplinites now living in D.C.). I attended the fundraiser at Union Station’s St. Columbus Club to support Lindsey and this cause. Executive Chef Craig Mason was also the featured chef who prepared Spaghetti Red for the taste-off. Hear about Lindsey’s fundraising lessons, triumphs and advice:
[NCC]: What was the most difficult part of fundraising for this event?
- [Lindsey]: We were so impressed by the number of people who jumped at the chance to help us and offered their sincerest assistance throughout the process. However, because we only had a week to promote the event, and even though we got a great amount of publicity, it is always difficult to pull people away from their normal, day-to-day activities to come to an event on a Monday night. We were lucky that so many people were willing to change their plans or take that time out of their weeks to help us support Joplin.
[NCC]: How were you able to pull off such a huge/successful event in less than a month?
- [Lindsey]: There was less than two and a half weeks between the time when KiKi and I first met to discuss putting on this event and its occurrence. We both realized the enormity of planning such an event and the amount of work that would be necessary, and we were able to do that because we both have flexible work environments. However, we also realized that our best bet was to delegate and ask for help where we could. We immediately had many members of both the #eventprofs and #assnchat communities jump to offer their services, which was so heartening. I would say that the biggest reason we were able to pull this off is because of the relationships we’ve built and our willingness to help others over time – and those relationships are the reason why our friends and colleagues stepped up, and of course, the fact that the majority of people want to help, but have not yet found a way to do it.
- [Lindsey]: First and foremost, don’t undervalue the time you spend networking and making connections. You just can’t be successful on your own. Another lesson? Learn not only how to accept help, but how to ask for help. As event professionals, we are taught to control the situation and keep weaknesses in the plan to ourselves, but in our own industry, we need to be confident that others will be there when we need them to make an event a success. In terms of registration and attendance, keep in mind that publicity does not equal registrations, or vice versa. They are correlated, but one does not cause the other. Know who your target audience is and what will get them to your event. Strategic thinking is always most important in any planning process.
[NCC]: What online forms of communication did you use to promote #Red4Joplin? Which do you think was most successful and why?
- [Lindsey]: KiKi and I are both most connected to Twitter, so we probably used that network the most to promote the event, and were most successful just because it was our “home,” and we are most comfortable with it. However, we also used Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, and other online communities. We set up a Facebook page, Facebook event, and a LinkedIn event. Social media can and will help you raise money if you know how to use it. Because of social media, and more specifically, Twitter, I met KiKi, knew more about the situation in Joplin and their needs, and was able to connect with people in the Joplin area and around the country who were just looking for the best way to make an impact. Don’t forget that social media, just like any other kind of media, is just a tool, and you need to learn how to use it best in order to be successful at it.
Lindsey also created a homepage for the event: www.red4joplin.org which included vital details such as the mission, registration through Eventbrite, and contact information.
[NCC]: You also created a press release for the event, what suggestions do you have for planners who are wanting to create press releases or those without the means of a PR firm? Are there any sites you reference for a guide on press releases?
- [Lindsey]: Well, this was a very specific situation that many will not be able to replicate. However, I can suggest a few things that might be able to overlap. Write a press release like a story. Try to find something that people can really feel connected to, which the media can grab hold on, and push that aspect. Using Red4Joplin as an example, we highlighted the fact that KiKi and Kylee were local DC sisters looking to help their hometown of Joplin, that we were using a historic venue for the event, and that several distinguished guests would be making appearances. There are a few websites where you can publish press releases for free (www.npr.org, www.directionsmag.com, www.free-press-release.com), or you can pay less than $100 at www.prweb.com so that news organizations can pick it up and you can point important parties to the legitimacy of your event. To read the Red4Joplin press release click here.
[NCC]: If you could change any aspect from the event whether planning, fund-raising or anything else, what would it be and why?
- [Lindsey]: There were so many inspirational, heartwarming, and just plain amazing things that came out of this planning process that I don’t think I would change anything. Of course any event can be better or worse, but we did our absolute best and we were very pleased with the outcome. Our hope is with the people in Joplin and if nothing else, we can be quite proud of bringing awareness and financial relief to a town which needs to know that the rest of our country is thinking of them and wants to help. My suggestion to others is to do your best, go with the flow and remember the reasons why you are putting on your event in the first place.
Thank you Lindsey! It was great hearing about your experience planning this event in less than three weeks. Thanks for sharing your story of triumph for this event and tips to other planners. You did a superb job planning, gaining interest and rounding up attendance under pressure! If you were unable to attend and are interested in donating, please contact Lindsey Rosenthal, Kiki L’Italien or Kylee Coffman.
Posted with permission of Sarah Vining. Originally posted at http://www.conferencecenterblog.com/2011/06/17/lessons-and-triumphs-planning-red4joplin-interview-with-lindsey-rosenthal/