Event Planners on Tech: Lisa Smith, Founder of The PR Net

Twice each month our Tech Setters series peeks into the digital briefcases of event professionals everywhere highlighting the tried and tested event technology and event apps real professionals are using in various aspects of their planning process.

Today, we’re talking with Lisa Smith, the founder of The PR Net, which is a go-to networking hub for PR, marketing, and media professionals in the lifestyle industries. Lisa has been working in PR and events for 14 years in both Australia and New York City, and produced everything from fashion week shows to monthly networking breakfasts. We chatted with Lisa about her event experiences and must-have tech.

How long have you been in the event world?

I’ve worked in events since the beginning of my career—14 years now. I started doing in-house in PR for an eyewear company and subsequently owned a PR agency in Sydney for eight years. I moved to New York in 2010, and have worked as a consultant since then. Most recently, in August of last year, I started PR Net. So events have always been a big part of my work life.

How many events do you plan each year?

We have been running monthly events for PR Net since we launched last summer. In some of my previous consulting work, I was on events almost every week.

What type of events do you typically work on?

We’ve been doing mainly networking breakfasts as our members find this the best time to connect. They’re usually booked every evening after work hours and would prefer a coffee and breakfast instead of drinks at a bar. Attendees make great new contacts and can still be at their desk by 10 a.m. It’s all about time efficiency.

‘The networking events were an organic extension of the online life of PR Net. It provides an offline way for our members to network and an enjoyable way to make contacts, while experiencing some top venues represented by fellow members.”

Why do you do events?

The networking events were an organic extension of the online life of PR Net. It provides an offline way for our members to network and an enjoyable way to make contacts, while experiencing some top venues represented by fellow members.

What do you do first thing after a successful event day?

Usually find some food and decompress. When you’re working on an event, it can be hard to find the time to do either.

What is your biggest event nightmare?

During one Fashion Week I worked on, there was a major power outage in the city, which coincided with my client’s show. We ended up producing the show with acoustic music. Luckily there was already a live music set up we could work with.

What applications are you using to stay organized on a day-to-day basis?

Google Docs. They are simple and effective, especially if you’re working with a number of people at different companies.

What websites, applications or services are you using to find event venues and what do you like about them?

I use our network to source event venues. Our PR Net members have some amazing spaces to offer. For example the Park Hyatt New York has been a fantastic supporter of PR Net by hosting our events at their property.

Event Planner Lisa at Her Office in Soho, New York
Event Planner Lisa at Her Office in Soho, New York

What are your favorite applications or services for marketing your events and why?

We utilize our social media channels, specifically Facebook and Twitter , and the PR Net site to promote our events.

To make it easier, we implemented an event calendar, which shows upcoming events and allows members to contact the organizer directly. Then after the event members can post photos to the gallery section, which we also share on our homepage.

Now for the rapid fire round! Name an application or service you’re using for…

Check-in: zkipster
Meeting scheduling: iCal
Finding and/or managing sponsors: The PR Net

Finally, what piece of event tech can’t you live without?

zkipster! My favorite feature is the VIP guest text alerts — genius!
Chime in! Tried any of the apps or services mentioned above? Tell us if you’re loving or hating them in the comments below. Or apply for a chance to be featured in one of our next Tech Setter profiles.

Photography: Nneka Salmon