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Why engaging on a more personal and emotional level requires a unique blend of passion and precision

An Evolve Events Report. Issue 1


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Social Events Flick through the pages of any marketing magazine and you’ll find much written about the power of events from a pure marketing perspective: exhibitions; roadshows; experiential etc. But one area that gets pushed to the background too often is Social

Events. Why? Because everyone thinks they can arrange a party. But the reality is Social Events are much more than just a party, they’re an important communication and engagement tool for

brands and organisations and there is often way more riding on them than first meets the eye.

In a time when brands and organisations are under intense pressure to be different and to stand out from the crowd, Social Events matter more than ever. They allow the organiser the opportunity to get their message over to their audience in the most direct way – whether that audience is their staff, their clients, their patrons or even their shareholders… everyone needs that little extra personal touch. For internal audiences that “personal touch” can engender a sense of community, of caring, of support, an understanding that “we’re all in this together”. All of which are essential requirements to foster happy staff; and we all know that happy staff are productive staff. For an external audience, with so much marketing noise going on, the ability to be able to talk directly to people and get your message across face to face is crucial.

What are Social Events? We define Social Events as events where the audience is more likely to engage on a personal and emotional level – these include fund-raisers, parties, gala diners, drinks receptions, press and product launch events and even weddings. A Social Event will reach its audience on an individual and human level. It will excite, motivate, surprise and inspire its audience. Because this event type touches hearts and souls and reaches into our emotions, they place additional pressure on the person charged with organising them.

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What makes Social Events different? Social Events tend to have much more riding on them in terms of how an organisation is perceived than many other types of events. A number of different factors can come into play here, depending on the type of event being organised: Firstly, the emotional environment in which people are interacting; secondly, the fact that they are very often paid for – anyone paying £200 or more for a ticket (which is very often the case with the likes of gala dinners and fund-raisers) is likely to be much more critical of their surroundings; and, thirdly, by their nature, Social Events are often high profile within their sector or market and accordingly have higher budgets than many other events – how that money is spent will likely be analysed by all involved; and everyone will have their opinion. For example, bad food at a gala dinner is going to create the wrong lasting impression on guests, and an ill-conceived venue choice for a company party is hardly going to fill staff with pride in the organisation they work for. This means the organiser has to not only handle the logistical pressures of staging the Social Event, but also the emotional pressure of managing the expectations of those stakeholders around them. Yet they have to do this in an environment where they are expected to take risks in areas like creative styling, choice of venue, catering and entertainment. Often they are stepping into the unknown because each social event always has to be different – you have to keep coming up with new and refreshing ideas to excite the audiences.

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Why do Social Events require a different approach when choosing suppliers and partners? As mentioned above a Social Event will reach its audience on a personal and human level – this adds extra stress over and above sheer logistics. Furthermore, Social Events will very often have an “engagement” time of several hours, which far exceeds that of almost any other type of event, and often means one Social Event can be many other types of events all rolled into one. This requires a wide range of suppliers working together. This brings its own unique set of challenges, and with so many different suppliers in the mix, the chemistry between them is crucial for the organiser to feel any sort of reassurance, and therefore to be able to pacify the wide range of stakeholders around them. With more elements to control there are more things that can go wrong, and this increased pressure means that Social Event organisers have two distinct sets of needs; the Emotional (empathy, confidence, support, reassurance) and the Rational (knowledge, expertise, resource and experience). Any supplier or planning partner needs to be able to balance both these sets of needs.

Balancing Emotional Desire with Rationial Needs Empathy

Knowledge

Confidence

Expertise

Support

Resource

Reassurance

Experience

In reality, the rational – or logistical – bit is the easy bit and really any supplier or partner should be able to deliver that. The tricky bit is often finding partners that can also deliver on the emotional front.

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What should you look for in a planning partner? Any event planning agency should be more than capable of delivering the logistical needs to stage a Social Event, being able to balance that with the ability to support their client emotionally is a different matter. Here are the boxes your partners need to be able to tick:

Empathy Look for a planning partner that can fully empathise with you and the internal expectations you have around you. They need to have complete understanding and appreciation of all external and internal factors that are adding to the pressure you are facing if they are to be an effective Social Event partner.

Confidence You need to work with someone that can inspire confidence at every step, all of the time.

Support Beyond just delivering schedules and timings look for someone that can support you in what you are doing.

Reassurance This can only come with confidence; the confidence that you are working with a true professional.

Rational Needs This set of needs are a given and what you should expect from any event agency. You are likely to be paying for knowledge, expertise, resources and experience. Both sets do not work in isolation and balancing the weighting between emotional and rational requirements is key to the success of these events. The person or agency assisting with the planning will have to have a huge network and range of experience to be able to match the right suppliers to

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the client. They also need to be able to negotiate on your behalf and pass on any savings. They will need to have experience at dealing with multiple internal stakeholders, and be aware of what can go wrong, so that they can be proactive to the unforeseen. An agency’s network of suppliers is key to the success of a Social Event. The more established they are and the longer they have been in the business the more likely they are to be able to knit together the right suppliers for each client. Each client has different needs as to how creative they want to be; for example, compare a young up and coming media company to a software company or financial institution. An agency that intuitively knows which suppliers are right from the word go will instil confidence straight away.

Top tips for choosing your perfect social events planning partner • Chemistry is crucial The requirements and the pressure to deliver Social Events mean having an open and transparent relationship.

• Reassurance is everything You should feel reassured and confident that you are in safe hands.

• Get the balance right When selecting a planning partner or agency you need to evaluate their ability to balance the emotional and rational set of requirements. Following up on testimonials and personal references is crucial in this situation.

• Measurement and Control Your event planning partner should be able to design metrics for you to be able to measure the success of your event. Ask them to include this in the briefing stage of your event so you can see straight away that they appreciate any challenges you have.

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Conclusion Although most people think organising a party is easy. The truth is far from it. The bigger the Social Event, the bigger the logistical headaches and the more important it is to make an emotional impact on your guests. Most people in companies that find themselves responsible for arranging these types of events don’t have the network of contacts or the depth of experience to be able to pull off a large-scale Social Event, so they need external help. An outside agency will have the scale and experience to support you through this process. They will also have the knowledge and network of suppliers to build the right event team to support your needs and your budget; and ultimately to create event solutions that work for you.

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About Evolve Events Evolve Events has been delivering social events to a wide range of clients for over 15 years. During this time the company has devised an approach to every project that its clients find reassuring. Being sensitive to any challenges without compromising on creativity and style. Evolve spends time gathering as much insight as it can about every client and only proposes solutions that will be the best match and fit. While Evolve is not afraid to challenge clients and encourage them to try different things it is always sympathetic to the audiences they have to please. Most importantly, Evolve matches precision (experience, specialism, processes) with passion (people, specialism) to deliver tailored event solutions that exceed their clients’ expectations. The Company’s clients include HSBC, Incisive Media, Samsung, Ubuntu Education Fund, Women’s Tennis Association and other highly valued brands in numerous industries. For more information about the company, any of the processes discussed within or to receive future reports, contact Gary Peters by phone at 020 7610 2808 or by email gary@evolve-events.com.

An Evolve Events Report. Issue 1

Evolve Events: Social Events, A White Paper  

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