How the Sausage is Made
As I mentioned in my last post, I recently took on the role of Project Coordinator for the KaBOOM! Play Together Tour. In order to activate this two-month, multi-city series of experiential events that required the coordination of city services, private vendors, volunteers, hired staff, and a bevy of other moving parts, I needed to be able to address situations calmly, professionally, capably, and efficiently. When dealing with 20+ businesses in a multitude of industries located around the country, a few things become apparent very quickly:
- Not everyone is skilled at timely, useful communication.
- Not everyone is able to get approval from the decision-maker simply by walking down the hall (as I am fortunate to have).
- Not everyone is—for lack of a better term—socially adept.
- Some people are extremely kind, understanding, and eager to establish a business relationship.
Many organizations were excited to be included in this experience…once I explained that we were in event marketing and, yes, we are based in St. Louis, but that for the past 19 years we have produced mobile marketing tours all over the country.
An important lesson came out of this daily communication with vendors: you can’t control everything.
- Some vendors were more than happy to negotiate prices and the needs of our mobile tour and our client…while others were not.
- Some vendors were efficient and worked quickly like I was accustomed to…while others did not.
- Some vendors were trusty and reliable…while others let us down during crucial times despite constant transparent communication.
But we had to go with the flow and tackle problems as they came at us. We had to keep a positive attitude and make it happen. We had to employ fail-safes, redundancies, and unconventional solutions in order to keep the event running smoothly and the guests as happy as possible. The show must go on, and much of event marketing is show business. We can’t control what other people will do (or fail to do). We know we have an obligation to be true to our promises, and that’s all that matters to our client and their audience. Make. It. Happen.
Another lesson came from task prioritizing and making deadlines. Quite often, I walked into the office and was assigned new tasks that had to be completed as quickly as possible in conjunction with my existing list of tasks I created the day before. I had to prioritize making the upcoming event happen in San Francisco while simultaneously booking vendors for the following three event cities. Think about this, too: the west coast vendors were two hours behind me, while the east coast vendors were an hour ahead of me! Cue the iPhone reminders about opening business hours for each market! I kept detailed checklists, multiple spreadsheets, binders, tabs, and probably killed a lot of trees with all my printed contracts and invoices (sorry, mother nature). But it all got done, and it got done on the deadline. Not half bad for my first project in the real world – post graduation.
A Job Well Done
So what made all the stress of these days in the office worth it?
My opportunity to travel to the launch event in Anaheim, the one day Sacramento event in front of the capitol building, and the two day event in Atlanta.
All of my efforts—the hours of painstaking phone calls and the checked and double-checked paperwork—came to fruition in front of my eyes as the events went off successfully, one after another.
I danced with Radio Disney and played with happy and carefree families.
I heard their feedback and their appreciation for such a wonderful event and how they hoped it would happen next year.
I saw family problem solving, victories, and smiles.
And to help relieve some of the stress of coordinating my first activation…I even sang Disney’s “Let It Go” over the event microphone. …a few times.