23 Apr

The Hostess with the Mostess–Tips for Planning Successful Events

By Libby Esterle, Senior Account Executive


Several months ago, I asked my husband what he wanted for his upcoming (and milestone) birthday. His answer? “A surprise party.” Now, I knew that he was more or less teasing me, as  payback for the surprise party I was hoping hewould throw for me years ago. And he did. And I was totally shocked. Still, I had no choice but to accept this challenge and began planning for the big day.


Throughout my Cincinnati-based marketing and communications career, I’ve planned and/or been involved with many special events, from public meetings and project kick-offs to open houses and fundraising soirees. But this was a different animal entirely—trying to keep everything a secret when we share a bank account, credit cards and a home made paying for things and hiding supplies quite tricky.


However, I happy to say that he was genuinely surprised. As for me?  I learned a few things along the way that can apply to almost any event:


  • Make a List and Check it Twice – I began with a detailed checklist for everything I would need, from food and beverages to supplies and decorations. As I purchased items, I would update my list and add to it as necessary. It lived in my purse and planner and was my saving grace in terms of staying organized and on budget. At Rasor, we have a master checklist that can be customized for each event/public meeting we host to make every box is checked.


  • Graciously Accept Help – I literally could not have pulled this off without our friends. For example, my friend wrote the venue rental and security deposit checks from heraccount, so they wouldn’t show up in our records. Others were more than happy to “hide” food and drinks for me in their homes. I’ve found that people really like to help, so always reach out for the support you need to ensure success.


  • Follow Up – I relied on texts, emails and Facebook private messaging to invite our guests and share party details. However, I neglected to follow up with one couple who didn’t end up coming because I never let them know where/when/what time. Lesson learned. Always double check RSVPs and follow up as needed.


  • Partner with Experts – When it came to the food, there was only so much I could prepare on my end, so I worked with Blue Ash-based Garnish Cateringto provide some heavy apps (and the best red velvet cake I’ve ever had) to ease my load. They were also invaluable in helping me identify what else I needed. If not for their expertise, I would have most certainly overlooked some important things. When we host events through the agency, we also rely on our preferred vendors for services like videography/ photography to make sure we capture important moments while also staying on budget.


  • Measured Success – We also rely heavily on measurement at Rasor toevaluate the success of all that we do— from marketing campaigns to community outreach to media and public relations— and our events are no exception. To gather the input needed for measurement, we routinely follow up with surveys after an event to gain insights and help provide direction for future events.


While the tips above are fairly simple and just some things I’ve personally learned along the way, there are a ton more out there. Check out these additional tipsto help ensure a fun and successful event experience.