It’s time to admit that a successful event planner does not need to know everything.
From designing a social media strategy to detailing a seating chart for hundreds, the expectations on you are frequently of a superhuman who works 24/7 and still finds time to recover from the stress and pressure.
And the steady stream of new tech tools and opportunities continually shaking up the playing field don’t make it any easier. More and more often, critical challenges with events relate to technology, whether it’s using software and databases in the planning stage, or tech for on-site execution.
Clearly it’s not sustainable to always add more to your to-do list and try to take on every new responsibility yourself, so an obvious answer is to grow your team and get people who can – freelancers or otherwise.
But even if you hire new freelancers or team members, sometimes you’ll still run into stumbling blocks where no one seems to know how to use the right software or articulate the right technical solutions.
So ask yourself: are you strategically adding the right new roles to your team, or are you just hiring people who will be able to throw more time and sweat at a tech problem and hope it works out?
Here’s a list of tech-savvy people you definitely want to have on your team:
A social media expert
The hardest part about social media is also the most critical step to success: it takes a lot of consistent time and effort to see results.
Consider investing in the social promotion of your events and hiring a social media expert. They will help you gain a broader vision about the real potential of networking platforms, and will also take on the bulk of time-consuming tasks: boosting the event’s social profiles with content, interacting with followers, identifying and engaging with influencers, and designing effective social media ads.
Freelance or full-time?: Either! Freelancers can help most in crunch time when the tasks are defined and ready to knock out. Full-time social media experts will be able to invest more time in researching relevant demographics and communities, and fine-tuning the type of content that performs best with your target audience.
A visual designer
You might be able to envision a coherent and sleek design aesthetic for your event, but can you also execute on it and stay on top of the countless other event planning tasks? Or are you more likely to settle for ‘almost as good’ to keep things on track?
If you find yourself getting stuck in this rut, or have extensive brand guidelines to abide by, you’re in need of the services of a professional designer.
From custom online invitations, to videos, websites, animation, and on-site designs, there’s an endless list of ways of ways to impress your guests. Put the phone videos away and hire a visual designer to ensure the visual aesthetics of your event materials match up to the excellent content and guest list.
Freelance or full-time?: Full-time designers will be able to gain a deeper understanding of the artistic direction and aesthetic you’re trying to cultivate the more regularly they work with you, and that’s a benefit not be understated. However, for less frequent or irregular events, skilled seasonal or freelance help is readily available.
A database administrator
You’re probably collecting lots of data from your event and attendees, but what’s happening to it?
Or on the flip-side of the coin, you may be preparing the guest list for an event, and all your guest information is messy and spread across a dozen spreadsheets or types of event software. Whose job is it to manage the data and make sure it’s well-kept and ready to go at a moment’s notice?
It may sound dull or less sexy than some of the other roles on this list, but an expert data admin will probably save you more hours than any two other roles combined. They’ll keep your guest lists neat and easy to use, line up the data with all the event management software you use, and keep errant mistakes and bad habits from ruining otherwise precious guest and event data.
Freelance or full-time?: This is a role you want on your team full-time. You need a professional who spends regular time invested in your data, and has a deep understanding of it. Plus, it’s more secure to limit the exposure of sensitive guest and event data to the most reliable full-timers.
An emerging tech specialist
With constantly adapting and emerging technologies, staying on top of trends is tough. So rather than scouring the jargon of tech news everyday, you could hire an emerging tech specialist who truly understands the benefits of emerging technology in an event setting.
They can not only keep you informed about what’s happening on the forefront of experiential technology, but also advise you on how to leverage the potential of these tools to improve the experience of your attendees or to increase the positive ROI of your event.
Freelance or full-time?: Full-time or in a regular consulting role. A major component of this role is developing an understanding of the needs and positioning of your events, and the best way to do that is by building up a deeper relationship so they can learn what new technology is exciting and relevant for you and your guests.
An online community manager
One of the most powerful impacts an event can have is to gather together a real community. But growing a community takes dedication, good social skills, and the right mindset.
It can be particularly difficult to jump in and out of this role when balanced with other types of event planning and management – and that’s where having a dedicated role comes in handy.
Having someone constantly working with the community to boost excitement, interact and answer questions, help with issues, and report back to the team on community sentiment is invaluable.
Moreover, although it’s easy enough to understand the technical challenges this work implies, it’s much harder to quickly pick up the emotional and psychological subtleties of building and interacting with an online community, and be familiar with the social norms and expectations of diverse digital platforms.
Freelance or full-time?: Generally this is better as a full-time role for events where there is more community-building involved – such as social events, fundraisers, and membership events. It might not be as needed for one-offs such as product launches.
As an event professional, you are absolutely essential from the start to finish of your event, but it’s not your responsibility to know absolutely everything. To keep up with the competition, delegate to an expert who can take over different tech-related tasks. You don’t need to hire out just to have more bodies on your team; hire new professionals to expand what you’re capable of producing.
Perhaps start small by hiring someone who can help you with the social media or inbound marketing strategies, even as a freelancer. Make this change, and see how a real expert can efficiently and quickly solve the problems you’d pour hours into otherwise. That’s how you build a better team, not just a bigger one.
BY VICTORIA RUDI
Victoria Rudi is a professional content creator & strategist for event magazines, startups, and apps. She covers topics such as event logistics & technology, attendees’ psychology, event communication & marketing, gamification, etc. Stay in touch by connecting with Victoria on Twitter.