While public relations is a major piece of the communications puzzle, we don’t often hear how strategic corporate events management plays into the overall marketing plan and strategy. We sat down with The Castle Group’s Wendy Spivak, to learn more about events management and integrating strategic event planning into PR campaigns.
Wendy co-founded The Castle Group in 1996 and today leads the events side of the business. Prior to co-founding The Castle Group, Wendy was a senior corporate communications executive at Prism Health Group and the Mediplex Group, two successful healthcare companies. She has previously held communications and events positions at Framingham Union Hospital and Northern Telecomm. She was also an associate producer for WNEV-TV in Boston, which is today’s WHDH-TV Channel 7.
Here are Wendy’s thoughts on events management and strategic event planning.
- What is corporate events management?
Event management is the process of creating a live, memorable experience that achieves desired business objectives. This could take the form of a product launch, employee celebration, sales or user group conference, executive retreat or educational forum or sales incentive program.
An event manager is like a general contractor, managing all the necessary components and details that go into the finished product. And like a general contractor, being on budget and on time is extremely important! Event components may include developing collateral for the event– invitation, website, signage, registering guests, securing a venue, negotiating contracts, managing audio visual, handling catering and transportation needs, and providing speaker and/or sponsor support.
- How is strategic events management different from PR?
Over the 20 years that Castle has been in business, the field of event management has grown and evolved into a highly analytical and strategic part of the marketing mix. While PR works with third parties such as media and social channels to amplify a client message, events management creates an experience that relays a client story. Similar to PR, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the larger communications plan to best see how an event connects to the marketing efforts as a whole. We look at a client’s needs and objectives and approach its event planning with a holistic lens, so that everything we do comes back to a measurable goal.
- How can event and PR teams best work together and what are the strengths in having a PR team and an event team in house?
Integrating PR and events allows clients to receive focused and tailored deliverables that directly affect their business plans and values. Events and PR teams need to spend time looking at the larger themes, define tasks on each side and support each other. The integration of the teams fosters a greater understanding of client business goals and can help both disciplines reflect key messages, enabling each to showcase and highlight the other’s results. This is invaluable to clients as they receive two different professional skill sets packaged together, which ultimately amplifies their message throughout all relevant channels.
- As a client, what are the top considerations when it comes to an event?
It’s crucial to start with the essentials: WHO (is the audience), WHAT (type of event), WHERE (will be held), WHEN (date and time), WHY (what is the purpose, what are the objectives) and HOW MUCH in terms of budget. Once these parameters are defined, it’s easier to approach other components.
- As Castle is celebrating its 20th anniversary, what’s your favorite industry memory from the last 20 years?
There have been so many memorable moments! Some of these include planning an incentive trip at an ancient castle in Spain, sailing regattas in the Caribbean, working with Boston TED Talks, a private showing of the Sistine Chapel, and more recently, our company retreat this past year in Stowe, VT. All of these memories stand out because they created spectacular moments for each guest.
Wendy currently serves on the boards of The Family Reach Foundation, USO (United Service Organizations) Council and Courageous Sailing Advisory Council. She is a previous board member of the Courageous Sailing Center in Charlestown, committed to being involved in the community that is home to The Castle Group. She is a member of West Point Society of New England, Society for Incentive Travel Excellence and Meeting Professionals International. Aside from leading and growing The Castle Group into a premier Boston public relations and events management firm, Wendy has executed powerful and meaningful events and conferences for companies such as Ocean Spray, Genzyme and TED Talks.
About The Castle Group
Celebrating its 20th year in business, The Castle Group leverages its Boston connections and global reach to create communications strategies that deliver business results, with an emphasis on PR, events management, crisis communications and digital. With a client roster that includes Fortune 500, high-growth start-ups, privately held, higher education and health care clients, Castle is supremely skilled at navigating complex organizations and surfacing unique ways to powerfully deliver clients’ messages. A certified women-owned business, the firm is a member of the Public Relations Global Network, 50 exclusively selected affiliates representing the world’s major media markets. Castle, its leadership and teams have won numerous industry, civic and professional awards, are devoted corporate citizens, and pride themselves on infusing an entrepreneurial spirit and scrappy attitude into every endeavor. Find Castle, its clients and their programs online, in person, in their communities and around the world. For more information, please visit thecastlegrp.com.
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