Monday, 18 July 2011

Management of Large-Scale Events

This blog is brought to you by BrightBlue team member Amy Vercruysse. Amy is an Event Director for BrightBlue Marketing.

Events of all sizes have a number of things in common: logistics need to be worked out, production value is key, hiring the necessary staff is critical, and of course programming is the hook that draws the crowd. There are many moving parts to events that need to be coordinated. For large-scale events – which, for this article, can be considered outdoor events that host over 10,000 guests per day – these elements grow exponentially.

Production is the root of all events.

“Production” refers to the infrastructure of the event and will include such things as fencing, permits, traffic control, crowd control, security, staging, lighting, tents, porta-potties, installations, electrical, phone/data and water supply. There are many things an event can’t do without, like staff, sponsors and volunteers, but without proper and well-executed production then there is no event and poorly planned production will kill any event.

Getting production right means hiring the best person for the job, someone with experience who understands the details as well the big picture and can manage all the elements and staff that are necessary to implement the production needs. This person will have to be highly organized and able to multi-task like no other.

What roles should be filled by staff and what by volunteers?

All of the management team should be paid staff, as these are demanding positions that require experience and know-how. Staffing should include:

  • Producer in charge of the entire event

  • Production director

  • Programming manager

  • Volunteer coordinator

  • Marketing and PR manager

  • Sponsorship manager

These folks may wear more than one hat, and will have teams that work under them which could include additional paid staff, volunteers, and interns. Volunteers can be assigned to handle onsite duties such as:

  • Gate/line management

  • Traffic control

  • General event assistance

For insurance purposes, volunteers generally do not do heavy lifting or operating of machinery.


Insurance will be required and can be pricey depending on the nature of the event. Vendors and suppliers at the event should be required to carry insurance as well, naming the producer company as an additionally insured. There are insurance companies that specialize in entertainment insurance and those will generally be less pricey than an agency that does not specialize.

Getting the word out

Because events typically depend on ticket sales as a revenue stream it’s necessary to get the word out about the event using a multi-faceted marketing and PR campaign. This can and should include:

  • Social media

  • Radio

  • Print

  • Online

  • Television advertising

  • Promotional ticket giveaways

  • Media sponsors

Media sponsors come in very handy and are great for conducting promotions which should showcase sponsors and the exciting programming going on at the event. A good PR campaign could consist of ongoing outreach to the media that also showcases sponsors, such as a check presentation photo opportunity. PR is also a great way to enlist sponsors and volunteers, in addition to the regular promoting of the event and its various elements.

Sponsorship is the primary revenue stream for events and as such should be a top priority. It’s not enough to find sponsors, but taking good care of them and treating them as the partners they are in the event is essential in order to ensure a smooth relationship with them and have them return for future events. They should be a strong focus in marketing and PR as well as onsite. To avoid “logo soup” it’s best to concentrate on and find high-level sponsors who will bring value to the event and be enjoyed by the guests.

Planning and executing a great event requires many months or longer, due to the complicated nature of large-scale events and the time it takes to acquire sponsors. Most large-scale events have year-round full time staff and ramp up their staffing as the event draws closer. By event time there could easily be a couple hundred staff and volunteers involved.

Looking for the best people to run your event? Contact BrightBlue Marketing!

-Amy Vercruysse

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