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The event planning journey: working better together.

In a recent webinar with the IoIC, Top banana teamed up with client DFS to talk through the event planning journey. But this wasn’t a ‘dummies guide to event planning’ this webinar focused on the important relationship between agency and client, and how they can work better together at each stage of the planning process to deliver an event that delivers.

Lee McNamara, Group Head of Internal Communications at DFS stated “With any supplier, you’re going to get the best value out of them when you move beyond that supplier/client relationship and view them instead as an extension to your team. The level of contact you have with them is really important – even when we aren’t working on a live project with Top B, I always keep them updated with the business as it’s only then they really understand the bigger picture.”  

The webinar deep dived into the event planning journey, which Top banana approached in 4 key stages; discovery, content/creative ideation, delivery and post-event. During the discovery phase it’s “important to spend valuable time with the key stakeholders” to get under the skin of the message and make sure it links back to the business vision, objectives and audience. But most of all, it’s the time to ask the question “is an event the right communication channel for the message and audience?”.  

Lee added “We’re always very, very considered when it comes to events. I actually try and stay away from events unless they are completely necessary. The reason being they are a big commitment and investment. There should always be a discussion around whether there is another communication channel that can as effectively reach the audience and land the message.”

Moving on to the content ideation and creative phase, Marc Hazelden began “This stage is where we really need to collaborate together to make sure we’re getting things right. We can’t come up with ideas in isolation and make them work, we need guidance, buy-in and feedback from the client to make sure it truly works for them and their business.” Marc continues “The best part of this stage is really trying to get the client to push the boundaries of what they have done before. We really tried to encourage DFS to try new things, including moving away from their traditional venue choice of a conference centre to an industrial warehouse, and mixing up the agenda to incorporate more movement and breakouts to immerse their employees in the message.”

Lee added “Top Banana made sure they kept us in the loop at all stages to make sure we were all on the same page. It’s important that whilst we pushed boundaries, we also kept true to our business and our brand. The event theme and creative environment is a big investment, so it needs to be right. They provided us with visuals and updates on all areas which really helped us keep our confidence in what the final outcome would look like.”

When it came to bringing the message to life, it’s important to not just focus on scripting and presentations – the event needs “consistency and continuity is key to make sure all the messages are joined up and tell the narrative”. Marc emphasised the importance of making sure the SLT were telling a story and engaging with the audience.

Lee added “It’s important to pull through the authenticity of the message and make sure it sits well with the person who’s delivering it. Otherwise people are going to see straight through it. It was great for us to have a team of creatives we could lean on to support the SLT in bringing their messages to life in the right way. The event isn’t a one-off launch and leave – as internal communicators we get to pick up on all the great messaging and drive it back into the organisation.”

If you want to find out more about this webinar you can download the recording here.

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