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Lessons and Triumphs Planning #Red4Joplin: Interview with Lindsey Rosenthal

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Everyone gathers in their red at “Show Me” Support for Joplin

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.

[NCC]: What advice would you give to other event planners in terms of registration, attendance, social media, lessons learned?

  • [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.

Lindsey also knew of Executive Chef Craig Mason through social media

[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.

Lindsey Rosenthal and Kiki L’Italien with James Campbell of Omni Shoreham Hotel
and J. Clarke Manley of Washington Convention and Sports Authority

The Value in Face-to-Face & Hybrid Events: An Interview with Lindsey Rosenthal

Monday, February 7th, 2011

I interviewed the talented Lindsey Rosenthal of Events For Good on the value of face-to-face events and how planners can successfully incorporate technology into events to make them successfully blended as we enter an era that is focused on being connected at all times. Events for Good assists nonprofits, associations, and other companies in the strategy of fundraising, charitable, and other special events. Here’s our discussion:

NCC: What is the value in face-to-face events?

  • Lindsey: It’s the ability to communicate in an honest direct manner with people you work with, from your community, with similar traits or industry interests. Social media, phone, and email all lack the ability to understand ques in face-to-face events such as tone and body language. It’s about understanding and appreciating the ability and uniqueness of the people you are connecting with.There’s value in events themselves which give you the opportunity to hash out details and to create relationships in business and in your personal life.  We can only do so much with technology. As a human race, we are driven to want, to  identify with others and find things in common.

NCC: Why you think face-to-face events are never going away?

  • Lindsey: People will always have the desire to meet in person. You can get so much more out of interacting with someone face-to-face. No matter how much communication we have in other forms, that can’t be replaced. It has a lot to do with having a greater understanding of who a person is and what they’re abilities are and understanding their communication. You don’t get tone, body language and other verbal ques you would get through face-to-face.

NCC: How do you think it’s best to incorporate technology into face-to-face events to make it blended?

  • Lindsey: First of all, I think hybrid events are a driver to motivate more people through virtual attendance to attend your event face-to-face. That’s why I think hybrid is a really great opportunity that we’re not yet taking advantage of. One of the best ways to use technology in events and create a virtual atmosphere is having a back channel of communication like Twitter and a Twitter hashtag because a lot of people are oral learners and feel very strongly about the need to communicate what they heard to truly understand it and create a sense of following through. They need to discuss it!The second component is the use of video. What that brings to the table is the opportunity to see who you’re hearing from and hear their tone. It actually creates a better atmosphere for learning because you’re more engaged, having a visual of that person and having some kind of interaction than you would without it. If you consider the difference between a webinar, a traditional webinar with a slide presentation and a voice-over versus a hybrid event where you have the back channel and the opportunity to interact and the opportunity to see the presenter – it really creates a much higher level of engagement.

NCC: Can you name a conference that has done a great job in blending – face-to-face and virtual aspects? What made them successful?

  • Lindsey: Of course, I think the best example is EventCamp Twin Cities. I was lucky enough to be in the face-to-face audience and meet people that I had wanted to meet for a very long time [that I met through social media] and see the presenters in person.  However, as a face-to-face attendee I was able to connect with the virtual attendees as well through the Twitter backchannel and really have the opportunity to share that learning with so many more people.Here’s what a hybrid event offers that an in-person event can’t always offer, its being able to talk while the presenter is talking and I don’t mean talking verbally, I mean talking through typing. We were able to discuss as that presenter was talking what they were saying, how we felt about it, which you can’t always do without technology present. I’ve talked to so many people who weren’t present at Event Camp and planned to watch virtually while doing other things but became so enthralled in it, they couldn’t step away from their computer and now they’ll be attending this year.

Thank you Lindsey! To learn more about Lindsey & Events for Good visit her website. To hear about this year’s Event Camp conferences, visit EventCamp.org.