Stu Katzen provides some considerations when selecting an event agency.

In today’s market, there is an overload of information, marketing and choice. This is no different in the events space.

There are multiple event companies, agencies and the like, who tout their ability to activate a meaningful, engaged activation with direct market cut through. And let’s be honest they are probably right. A large proportion of event agencies are competent at producing and running an event.

I do however, remember working with a PR agency that spent the first 45 minutes of the event screaming at each other over the two way radios they had strapped to their designer dresses, only to find they were literally five metres from each other in the same room. But that is a rare moment of comedy and not indicative of today’s events agencies.

So as a client, corporate, association or charity, how do you pick that one agency that you feel will not only activate your event seamlessly (an events word), but also deliver the message you want within the budget you have?

Unfortunately that word budget has already peeked out from under the blanket and smiled. I do believe that events should not be budget driven, but the reality is, they generally are.

First Tip: Look for an agency that includes all its costs. My personal hate is getting to the end of an event only to find a huge bill for incidentals, add-ons and other stuff you didn’t know existed. We shouldn’t charge for phone calls, writing up proposals or faxing (who does that anymore? Apparently someone does, as I received a call two weeks ago furious at my lack of response to a fax sent to me. My response was that I don’t own a fax machine. “Why not?” I was asked. Because I have email.). But I digress.

Second Tip: Find an agency who gets who you are and what you are about. So important. It’s no use hiring an agency that specialises in sports events to do the launch of a new lipstick! Unless that’s what you want. You need to feel comfortable with the agency and feel as though they understand your product, your brand, where you want to take it and how you want to engage your audience. So don’t be shy about meeting with the agency and talking to them about what they do and how they do it. I never understand when I am asked to put together a proposal for an event over the phone and when I ask for a meeting there is resistance. I usually conclude the client is either not serious, or is using my proposal as a benchmark. Always meet the agency!

Third Tip: Probably the most important aspect is you need to like the crew! You need to like the people you are working with. For the next three to six months (or however long your lead time is) you will be dealing with these people every week and towards the end, every day. You have got to like working with them, talking to them and who they are. Sometimes we have to work with people we may not particularly like. If you don’t have to then don’t.

I know the above may seem a bit simple but it is very often overlooked or swept aside in the need to get the event “up”, make the event work for the budget, or even pick an agency.

Each one of the above are independent, but as a whole when they are all right, aligned and working together, there is a winning synergy that results in amazing events. The result is usually an event or activation that takes a product or service and delivers it to the market in a way that will not be forgotten – a way that will keep guests talking and remind them to come back the next time your client calls. THAT is what a great event is all about!

I have to say I am really lucky because I have great clients who value what I do and they work WITH me to create fabulous events. I have always felt that if you feel a childlike joy or excitement watching an event unfold, you are doing it right.

I did an event a few weeks ago where the event literally appeared and “popped up” around the guests. The looks of surprise and complete joy on the guests’ faces was without a doubt one of my favourite event moments ever. The look of absolute pleasure and the huge grin on my client’s face as he was clapped on the back by his guests, was what it was all about.

So don’t rush into engaging an events agency. Look around, ask around and then meet new agencies and meet again. Do lots of talking and listening and find someone you are comfortable with, trust and like, and you will probably have a winning team on your side for your next event or activation.

Happy eventing!

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