By: Shelby Cassel (@cassel_lynn)

As we all know, Public Relations plays a role in every industry. When I started my position as a special events coordinating intern at the new venue, The High Five GR, I was excited to tackle PR in this unique environment. I have now completed my summer internship and am well into my fall semester working at The High Five. Over the past five months, I’ve come to gain an in-depth understanding of what goes into promoting a new space and upholding the image of a venue.

My second day working for The High Five was my first experience testing the waters of PR in my new work environment. The venue was officially up and running so we were holding a networking event for local corporate planners. This was a great opportunity for us to familiarize ourselves with the professionals we would be selling to in the future, but even more than that, it was an excellent opportunity to bring them into our space so they could see what we had to offer first hand. 

The evening was successful as our staff mingled amongst the guests, and got to promote our venue in a relaxed and enjoyable setting. While we were able to gain a few bookings from this evening, it was more important that these individuals were now exposed to our venue and were able to spread the news via word of mouth that we were an excellent location to be considered when planning an event in Grand Rapids. 

This face to face style networking is extremely important especially in our West Michigan community. In fact, through tracking our sales, we learned that the majority percentage of our leads come to us via recommendations. All of this goes to show the power of networking when promoting a venue.

An additional PR duty I tackle through my work is writing press releases and promotional materials for our space. This upcoming holiday season, our venue is offering different special deals and opportunities, which means that we have to get the word out. 

Not only is this done digitally, but also formally through printed postcards. Writing these promotional materials and tailoring each to their specific audience will help our events team hopefully gain more sales. Like any business, being proactive and finding ways to bring the customer to you is an extremely important task. Since an events venue is consistently selling the same “product”, which is space, we need to find creative ways to stay fresh in the minds of our potential clients and keep up that awareness.

One of my favorite public relations tasks related to the venue is branding. Our venue is host to a diverse variety of events, from corporate conferences, to non-profit dinners, to our weekend weddings. We have the challenge of creating a specific and identifiable brand while still appealing to each of these audiences, and even audiences we haven’t discovered yet. 

I work alongside the branding team to determine what that brand is. For our venue, we focus on bringing timeless elegance with an industrial downtown edge. This style is carried out through various social media platforms. 

As always, identifying your audience is key. While our website and Facebook need to suit all of our different clients, our Instagram and Pinterest page, for example, can be tailored a bit more to our wedding clients. My best advice, research, research research! Immerse yourself in your work and get to know your clients one on one, this is the best way to ensure you’ll be able to make the right decision on how to reach and appeal to them. 

Working within the world of special events is extremely fast-paced. Dealing with the PR surrounding a venue, especially a new one, takes constant consideration and diligence to achieve success. For anyone interested in exploring this world I couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s so rewarding week in and week out to watch satisfied client’s eyes light up when their event is an absolute hit. PR is all about your reputation, if you hustle hard for your clients, find clever solutions, and get to know your audience face to face, then you’ll hopefully be able to establish a shining reputation for years to come.


Shelby Cassel is a senior Advertising and Public Relations major and currently works as a special events coordinating intern at The High Five GR. This is her second year being involved in GrandPR and she currently serves as an account executive. In her free time, Shelby enjoys trying new restaurants in Grand Rapids and planning fun outings for her friends.