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Getting more value from an event

By Kim Harrison,

Consultant, Author and Principal of

A reader recently asked me to write some articles about event management.

Event management is largely about project management and check lists, but I would like to mention one aspect that tends to be overlooked.

It pays event organizers to look beyond the immediate action items and pause to consider the bigger picture: the purpose or objective of the event being proposed.

The purpose of an event may seem to be a given. It may be a traditional event, a cyclical event, a special event, a festival or a celebration. Each of these may appear to have one key purpose.

Yet I am sure each event would have sub-themes and underlying purposes – we need to consider the several reasons for each event.

Not only do we need to consider what the audience or attendees expect from the event, but we should also think of what we want from it.

For instance, my State PR association is hosting the annual conference of our national body in October. Why? Because it is our turn. It is 7 years since we last hosted the conference.

OK, that is probably the main reason. But underneath are several other reasons.

Our State capital, Perth in Western Australia, is probably the most remote State capital in the world. We are as far from Sydney as Los Angeles is from New York – and there is little in between. We are located further from the other side of the country than London is from Moscow.

This means we are located a long way from the mainstream of the top PR practitioners in our country – we seldom directly see or hear the top operatives. The bulk of our population lives on the East coast while we live on the West coast. It is costly and time-consuming to attend these conferences on the other side of the country.

But our conference will bring 40 speakers from around the country and overseas, giving us access to the people who have been involved in some of the most important communication events of recent times.

Therefore, PR practitioners on this side of the country will benefit from rare exposure to these speakers as well as other delegates from all around the nation.

Accordingly, probably the main aim of the conference is to strengthen the professional development opportunities for our members – to enable them to learn the latest.

However, in support are several subsidiary aims:

  • To make a profit. This will strengthen our financial position and enable us to engage in more adventurous professional development activities than we would have otherwise. This happened after the last national conference we hosted. The very comforting knowledge is that already 300 people have signed up for our conference, which is still a month away. We are delighted with the response to date.

  • To invite some important stakeholders. We have invited some heavyweights from the business, media and political arena along to the keynote sessions on the first day of the conference, which will enable them to understand more about public relations.

  • To bring together potential members of our association so they may be motivated to become members.

  • To create networking opportunities for attendees.

  • To have fun! We intend to put on social activities that will enable delegates to enjoy themselves while they are here.

Each of these aims has several action steps attached that will enable us to maximize the outcomes from the event.

The same strategy development can be undertaken for any type of event. Most events have a single overriding aim, but underneath are several supporting aims that the organisers could develop into definite beneficial outcomes.

The next time you organize an event, you can benefit by pausing to think about how you can ‘leverage’ the value of the event by purposefully developing subsidiary aims for it.

About the Author

Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website,, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.


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