Strategic Event Planning for PR Students


Public relations and mass communications students know the importance of exploring the industry and learning outside the classroom to enhance our skill sets. The 2018 PRSSA National Conference in Austin, Texas was a great opportunity to do so. One component of public relations is event planning, but in order for it to be successful, there is much that goes into it. Gary McCormick, APR, PRSA Fellow, and founder and principal of GMC Communications, shared  his knowledge about the organization, creativity, and strategic planning required to execute the perfect event.

Take it From a Pro

McCormick shared that he found opportunities to plan and execute events at many different experience levels throughout his career. His work includes HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, the Travel Channel and more. McCormick’s passion for public relations and communications was evident as he expressed his upbeat and positive attitude throughout his session, even engaging with students and public relations practitioners in the audience.

Before You Say, “I Do”

The success of an event depends on many factors. Budget, lead time and a target audience should all be taken into consideration before you send out the “Save the Date” invitations. Once priorities have been identified, utilizing email marketing tools, social media and newsletters will not only facilitate awareness but also generate motivation within your target audience’s community.

First Thing’s First

Behind the scenes, everyone involved needs to communicate effectively and efficiently in order to predict, solve and rectify problems as they arise during the occasion. McCormick pointed out that having a list of tasks and responsibilities for all staff members is helpful for keeping the agenda on track and holding everyone accountable.

Now What?

At the end of the day, planning events does not only include advocating for your client or company’s needs. It is important to stand firm in your beliefs, ethics and values as your name and reputation will forever be tied to every reception, benefit, launch party or special occasion that you help facilitate.

Remember, skills and experiences gained through event planning are transferable to all career paths. Utilizing attention to detail, organization, prioritization and budgeting will not only advance your career in public relations, these skills will transform you into a desirable candidate for all future endeavors.

Moving on from PRSSA to PRSA

Flying High With Communications