By: Vanessa Lansdale (@vlansdale )

Public relations and event planning tend to overlap in many different ways. Both ask the same questions: Who is my target audience? What strategies will I use to reach the target audience? And, how will I evaluate my actions?

But before I address those questions, you might be asking, how do you begin to plan an event? Luckily, I learned the ins and outs of event planning through my role of implementing the advertising and public relations (APR) program mixer that took place at the end of January. I’m here to recap the event and give you tips and tricks to help make your future events successful. Here are my event planning dos and don’ts as they relate to public relations and the APR mixer:


  • DO: Know your target audience. To begin informing potential attendees about the APR mixer, the APR Alumni Relations Committee and I had to specify target audiences for the event. These audiences included alumni, faculty, and students in the APR program. If target audiences are not specified, you may end up reaching the wrong audience, which could make your event a flop.


  • DON’T: Forget to use strategies. You don’t want to make your event a flop, therefore, plan out the ways you intend on reaching your target audience. What channels will you use to inform potential attendees about the event? In my case, the APR Alumni Relations Committee and I used email as the primary form of communication, as it was the most direct way to reach students, faculty, and alumni. Additionally, we used social media, posters in the School of Communications building, and word of mouth to promote the event.


Students, alumni, and faculty at the APR mixer.

  • DO: Follow up. Remind your target audiences of the upcoming event! Do you write down every event that comes through your emails? Probably not. Follow up with attendees, follow up with the event space host, follow up with caterers. Plain and simple: just follow up. There are many small details that go into planning an event, so communication is crucial in making your event a success.


  • DON’T: Forget to ask for feedback. Like any good public relations campaign, you must evaluate your actions. What good is hosting an event if you don’t know how to improve for future events? For the APR mixer, a simple survey was sent out to attendees asking for feedback on the event. The feedback provided insight into areas that were successful and areas we needed to work on.


  • DO: Ask for help if needed. Sometimes you can’t plan a whole event on your own. Have others there to give you input and help you find the missing details. I can’t thank the APR Alumni Relations Committee, PRSSA executive board, and Advertising Club enough for their support and involvement in making the mixer a success. Also, shoutout to 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications for hosting the event in their lovely new office!

Overall, the first APR Mixer was a success with over 40 attendees, more than $215 raised for the Grand Rapids Pride Center, several letters of advice written to students from alumni, and some great food and networking. Thanks to all who came out to support the APR program and our event. This will hopefully be the first of many!


Vanessa Lansdale is a junior at GVSU majoring in Advertising and Public Relations and double minoring in Nonprofit Administration and Photography. She is the Director of Alumni Relations for GV PRSSA and the Photographer for the Advertising and Public Relations program. In her free time, you can catch Vanessa hiking, going to concerts, and taking photographs.