Nurturing Media Relationships to Your Benefit

By Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

In the world of public relations, there is one fact that will forever ring true- we cannot exist without the media and vice versa. 

In the last several years, editorial relationships have shifted because of the sheer volume of pitches they receive everyday- quite simply, there are more pitches then there are editors. With that said, having a good relationship with them has become an essential part of getting noticed and will likely lead to more opportunities to get published. 

So, what do you need to know when it comes to getting on an editor’s good side? See some of my best tips below:

Be Their Resource

There is no doubt that you are an expert in your field and have a lot of great insight to contribute, but you are far more likely to stick out in an editor’s mind if you stop thinking, “How can I get featured?” and instead think, “How can I be their resource?” The fact is, at the beginning, you may get more no’s than yes’s, but your communication shouldn’t end there. Put your research hat on and do some digging into the editor’s previous articles and pitch them more topics that are in line with what they’re writing. Does your expertise not quite line up with an article their writing? Get them in touch with some of your wedding pro friends that would be the right fit- they won’t forget it. 

Keep it Professional

Once you’re in the habit of pitching to editors on a regular basis, you’ll likely find yourself getting on friendlier terms with many of them, which can certainly work to your advantage. However, when that happens, it’s easy to start falling into the trap of letting your pitches and attitude get a little too casual. A little informality with your emails can be a good thing (you’re not a robot!), but make sure you are always mindful of deadlines and submission guidelines, and not asking for extensions because you’re on friendly terms. 

Be Authentic

My best editorial relationships are with people that I have connected with on something outside of just pitching. Whether it’s a mutual love of pizza or our distaste of burlap everything in rustic weddings, it’s nice to share a laugh with someone you are working with. Professionalism is always king of course, but it’s ok to get to know editors on a personal level as well. 

Getting to know editors and cultivating those relationships does take time and effort, but it will pay off in dividends when editors start using you more and more as their resource!

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The Benefits of Association Membership

By Kevin Dennis, WeddingIQ

Membership in reputable industry associations, whether local or national, can come at a premium cost, not always just in money, but also in time, product and effort. It’s not enough to simply pay your dues and wait for a return; you also have to contribute your involvement in monthly meetings, special events and other networking opportunities to get the most out of your membership. You know what you bring to the table, but what kind of return can you expect? Why exactly should you join an industry association?

Networking Opportunities

One of the most common reasons wedding professionals join industry associations is access to networking opportunities. What better way to meet like-minded peers than in a setting focused on promoting education and excellence in the wedding industry? The key to taking advantage of the networking benefit, though, is your own efforts and involvement. 

First, you have to show up! It’s tough to meet folks and establish relationships if you miss every meeting. Your colleagues will be most likely to refer businesses with which they are familiar, and you can build that recognition through regular attendance and active participation.

Exclusive Education 

Great associations commit to providing members with exclusive, invaluable education opportunities. Your dues and event admissions are translated into business-building knowledge that can help propel you to the next level. Most meetings feature expert speakers, and often there are multiple opportunities each year for you, and sometimes for your team, to engage in professional development. Choose an association that values education among its top priorities and you will undoubtedly see a return on your membership investment.

Exposure through Participation

A unique benefit to association membership is the opportunity to demonstrate your product or services to a group of professionals who may have need for what you sell. You can share your specialty baked goods, show off your design ideas or demonstrate something unique that sells best through experience. You not only get your brand in front of the key players, but you also build good will as you contribute value to the membership of others. 

Generally, there is a programs or events committee that organizes contributions. Reach out and ask for the schedule of upcoming events and find out which needs you might be able to meet. Only sign up if you are truly committed to participating, though. Failure to come through will have an extremely detrimental effect on your business – the exact opposite of your goal for your membership!

Build Credibility and Take Advantage of Leadership Opportunities

Membership in reputable industry associations offers a level of credibility that many customers recognize, especially if you are a great ambassador and educate them about the value of your organization. Colleagues will also recognize your commitment to excellence and growth when they realize you are affiliated with a great association.

Even better, you get opportunities to lead. If you are able to commit the time and effort, you can build some of the strongest relationships through service as a chapter, regional or national leader. Start with a manageable role in which you are likely to excel and look for new opportunities as your familiarity with the organization grows. Your dedication and sacrifice will be rewarded through recognition and respect, leading naturally to business referrals and new levels of success.

The benefits of membership in an industry association are numerous if you are willing to do more than just pay your dues. The time and effort you invest can make all the difference in the world to the growth and success of your wedding business.

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Event Day Management

By: Theres Cole-Hubbs, Electric Karma International

It’s the big day! Are you going crazy? Is the client going crazy? 

Well...CRAZY IS NOT ALLOWED! 

Event day management can be interpreted in many ways: 

Client’s Prospective

I hate when I receive the sales inquiry, “I only need a day of coordinator or manager, I have everything done!” They are surprised when I answer back, “What does that mean?” Really! The caller is expecting us to come in on the day of their event and execute a plan that someone with little or NO experience has organized? And did I mention they want it to be SPECIAL and perfect? This terminology of "Day of" Management must stop! What we recommend, is that you review the clients plan, be sure they are open to critiquing, and adjustments. Then we make a decision if this client and the experience will be beneficial to both parties. 

Cooperation and Collaboration by a Professional Team

The day of experience for all professionals is directly related to the outcome for the event. All professionals are important and each has a responsibility to the client. This being said, it is critical that all service providers are respected and that the team understands what expectations they have of each other.  On the day of, is not the time to say, “this is what the client wanted, I’m sorry that the tall centerpieces are in the sight line of the screens and I can’t move them!” Or “we are busy with getting all the décor done and we don’t have time to set up the stage, so that you can finish the DJ equipment. It’s not our problem that your staff is on the clock and have been waiting for 3 hours.” Who’s going to tell the client of the decisions of changes or delays? It is NEVER acceptable to throw another professional under the bus. With proper communication these occurrences will lessen.

5 Tips to Successful Day of Management

  1. Communication is the most essential tool that all professionals have for Day of Management. 

  2. Collaboratively creating a production schedule with all of the professionals that will be participating. It is important that each service speaks to the amount of time required to execute their service, and what needs to proceed or happen after so that everyone can communicate, if there are changes.  If this isn’t in place, it can create a domino effect and put the project in jeopardy.  Changes and adjustments will happen.  Have a method in place to address these items. Establish a plan of how they will be communicated with the affected teams. It is necessary to establish a lead person that will communicate and oversee the project.

  3. Having a production schedule for all installations, complete with move in time markers, helps in assessing if things are running ahead or behind so adjustments can be made.

  4. It works well to have a final meeting with all the professionals, to make each one responsible to the other.

  5. Having a clear expectation of services or products with the client and the other professionals helps to keep plans aligned. 

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Handling Event Crises

By:  Jennifer Taylor of Taylor’d Events Group

Picture this nightmare scenario: The wedding reception is going smoothly, and you are about to slip out the door for a quick bite to eat. Then you hear them – the words no planner ever wants to hear coming from the other room: “Someone call a doctor!” You immediately make eye contact with the receptionist who places the call. In the meantime, you hear “never mind,” but you know the emergency responders are still coming. It’s the tallest building in the city – they have to show. Thankfully, they arrive, check out your victim, and give you the “OK” as they head off to address more serious issues.

You, on the other hand, are left wondering, “what if it had been a more serious issue?”

What if the grandmother of the groom had broken her wrist on the dance floor? What if a vendor didn’t show up, or the venue lost power? These real life situations have happened during my weddings! A planner has to be prepared for anything. So, what did I do? 

In the first scenario, a family member escorted the groom’s grandmother to the emergency room and I kept the guests calm and the event going. I now check the dance floor after it’s assembled at every event to make sure there are no seams sticking up, and that the floor is event. It is essential that you use your emergency situations as learning opportunities to help future events run more smoothly.

When a vendor doesn’t show up, you need to assess your resources. If a baker no-shows, for example, you could try to call in a favor, or find out if the venue has an in-house pastry chef who might be able to step in. You could also send your assistant to a local store to purchase a cutting cake and sheet cakes. You have to think creatively and understand what is, and what is not possible as a solution.

If any other vendor no-shows, you can again try to call around and see if one of their colleagues is able to step in. If not, what other acceptable substitutions could you try? For example, if the florist does not arrive and none of your florist buddies can help, can you go to the floral department of the nearest grocery store and try to replace what is missing? Could a local restaurant help with food and service if your caterer doesn’t come? Can you solve the problem by thinking out of the box?

Whatever you do, don’t panic. Even in the case of a power failure, you can keep people calm, find candles if you know that there is no gas leak, and keep everyone updated with the latest news.

In case you ever needed a good reason to network, the above scenarios give you all the reason you need. If you get into a wedding day predicament, it will be very helpful to know what your fellow local wedding professionals can do!

Ultimately, weathering crises as an event planner boils down to staying calm, cool and collected, and making sure that you are sharing that vibe with others. You are the planner – the leader – and everyone else will turn to you. If you are calm, they will be calm, and that is really all that matters.

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How to Create a Destination Event at Home

By Kim Sayatovic, Belladeux Event Design

Planning exquisite destination weddings doesn’t have to involve a flight to an island paradise, passports or jet lag. Sometimes the destination is right in your backyard. Many couples crave the energy and guest experience of a destination wedding, but also want to celebrate what they love about their home or hometown. You can apply the same principles to planning a destination wedding at home that you would when planning a more remote event.

View the Town through a Newcomer’s Glasses

Take a day to roam the area as a tourist and see everything from a new perspective. If you’ve always heard about a certain museum or historic site, but never had the time to visit, go there now. Pick up brochures in the lobby of local hotels or nearby rest stops and welcome centers. Ask friends and colleagues where local kids go on field trips. Find out what marketers say and recommend when promoting the region to the outside world. You may find unique venues and inspiration for menus, music and décor are actually all around you.

Get to Know Your Clients

As you interview your couple, find out what it is that they love so much about the area. Have they chosen it merely out of convenience, or does their love story include a mutual affection for the local life? Do they have certain spots that were important in their timeline, like the tree where they were engaged, or the bridge where they first kissed? Were they listening to a favorite local music group when they first fell in love? Get as much detail about why the area is important to them as you can, then try to incorporate that level of detail into their guest experience.  

Introduce the Region

Guests love welcome bags, and hosts love to start an event on the right foot. Collect samples of local treats, like single serve regional coffees or small bags of candy from the corner candy store. Pair them with comfort items and a personalized letter from the couple suggesting the best ways to enjoy the town and the can’t-miss sights. Also include useful information about transportation and important wedding details. Your guests will be grateful for the practical information and delighted with the local treats.

Feature Local Flavor

Does your couple have a favorite food truck or ice cream shop? Is the region world-renowned for its local wineries or breweries? Work with your catering team to use local products when creating menus, and feature regional wines or beers at the bar. Plan an end of night surprise visit from your clients’ favorite local doughnut or ice cream shop, or send everyone home with a take-out container of something deliciously regional and “insider-only.” Use special signage to share how the featured items were selected, or choose a personable live chef to interact with guests while small portions of the couple’s local favorites are prepared and served. 

Record and Share

An often-ignored benefit of planning phenomenal destination events at home is recognition. Make sure that you market photos of your event as real wedding stories or features on blogs and websites you love. Celebrate your design and you’ll soon attract the attention of other couples that may very well make your town the home of their upcoming weddings!

Planning a destination event at home can certainly be a fun and rewarding experience, and your clients will love the opportunity to embrace all that is their hometown!

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