Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Event planning insights from Minnesota community festivals


event planningWith a vibrant community festival scene including the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, the Basilica Block Party and more, Minnesotans love to get together.

Attendees at a recent Minnesota PRSA panel had the opportunity to hear from some local event planning organizers, including:
  • Roseanne Bump, executive director of the St. Paul Winter Carnival and Cinco de Mayo;
  • Sue Evens, executive director of the Grand Avenue Business Association and Grand Old Day;
  • Meghan Gustafson of the Basilica Block Party; and
  • Deb Schaber of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.
While each event draws slightly different audiences, the organizers commented on topics that they do share in common: promotion, social media and sponsorships.

To get the word out about events that draw tens of thousands of people, promotion is key. Public relations is a vital component, but so is advertising and media sponsorships. For the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the St. Paul Pioneer Press is a very important partner due to its ongoing coverage and sponsorship of the St. Paul Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt.

In terms of social media, each event organizer has the approach of going relatively "dark" in the off season. The exception is the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, whose loyal fans are eager to engage in social media all year long. Panelists shared that, while Facebook is their favorite platform, Twitter often has high engagement during the events themselves.

When asked by moderator Beth Pinkney of the 2015 Senior Games about how to handle issues that arise in social media, Sue Evens of Grand Old Day offered her take. "If I hear from more than one person that something is an issue, then it's important and I address it," Evens said.

Schaber said that sponsorships have declined in the eight years that she has worked at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. Panelists noted that sponsors look for evidence of sales in considering whether to renew sponsorships or not. Perhaps they would want to look at the impressions they get from being in front of tens of thousands of Minnesotans having a good time together as well.

For a collection of more public relations tips, insights and reflections, buy the book "19 Tips for Successful Public Relations: Insights on Media Relations and Reputation Management" from!
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