By this time in 2016, the event planning industry is expected to have grown to over 60,000 jobs. That is a lot of people, planning a lot of events. If you’re an Event Coordinator for a non-profit, your organization relies on events to raise funds and keep the organization functioning. How do you attract people to your event and get them to support your cause? Maybe you’re an event planner for a corporation that hosts an annual event. How do you get people to keep coming back to your event each year? These are just some of the questions that were explored at the West Michigan’s Public Relations Society of America (WMPRSA) “What’s so special about your event?” luncheon.


The panelists for this event were Nicole Cook; Marketing & Events Coordinator at the Humane Society of West Michigan (HSWM), Alicia Caldecott; Principal at A Day In May Event Planning and Design, Kim Rangel; Event Sales & Services Manager at Experience Grand Rapids, and Keri Kujala; Manager of Special Events & Donor Relations at Saint Mary’s Foundation– Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.


Tip One

Focus on logistics, not aesthetics. Alisha Caldecott says to make logistics your primary concern. No one will be talking about how great the place settings look when his or her stomach is growling because you can’t get the food out on time. Make sure you completely understand the flow of your event and event space.


Tip Two

Think outside of the box. Nicole Cook has to make the Humane Society of West Michigan’s 5k walk stand out from the dozens of 5ks hosted by other animal shelters. How? They host their event a night and make it a glow walk.  A catchy name like “Bark in the Dark” is always helpful too.


Tip Three

Create Relationships. Kari Kujala stresses the importance of creating relationships with vendors. This is especially important if you have a tight budget.  If a company offers to sponsor your event, make sure you are returning the favor when possible.


Tip Four

Location, location, location. Make sure your event is in a location that is appealing to your target audience. Nicole Cook said that when the HSWM is looking at locations, convenience for attendees is always a factor—even if it is more expensive. Spending more money on a location will always boomerang back at the organization with more attendees and hopefully, more money raised in the long run.


Tip Five

Always give your client (or boss in some cases) realistic expectations. This is a tip that all four of the ladies touched on. You don’t want anyone to be disappointed with the end result. Kim Rangel says to find out the one thing your client is expecting or what their top priority is and make it happen. Compromise on other things if necessary, but make that one thing happen. And of course, always be honest and respectful.


Take it from the pros and utilize these tips to make your event stand out!


By: Olivia Mashak, VP of Financial Services for GV PRSSA and VPO of GrandPR