Mary Worth: A Cultural Catalyst

Mary Worth: A Cultural Catalyst
Here in the Midwestern non-profit world of the 21st century I often see “mediocrity” showing it’s pale, bland, uninspired little head at events time and time again. Many non-profit events seem to reach across the parking lot for inspiration instead for the stars. Could it simply be due to creative exhaustion? Maybe their design engines are running on empty? Non-profits are notoriously understaffed and the few fulltime staffers they do have typically wear many, many hats and are pulled in countless directions. At some of the organizations where I have worked it was always seemed like we were herding cats while simultaneously conducting an orchestra in the midst of frantically moving events forward. But in my own experience, we were still able to create some truly memorable events with a miniscule budget and just a few volunteers.

Maybe it is the path of least resistance.
Just get the job done so you can go home, it worked last year so let’s just do the same thing again.
It can’t have anything to do with the creative process or can it? Nowadays we are bombarded with glorious non-stop inspiration from every media source in existence. Lest we resort to falling back on our own imaginations, brilliant ideas can be garnered from countless television shows, endless websites, magazines, newspapers, as well as a plethora of social media sites and forums that provide not only the specific details but interactive feedback to any question imaginable along with the resources and step-by step instructions.

What could it be?
I think it is simply that their corporate culture doesn’t allow them to “dream!” In the midst of all their planning, fundraising, mission following, scheming and do-gooding – they no longer dream of the possibilities. Non-profits frequently get mired in the minutia of checking items off a list and chanting the non-profit mantra’s: it will cost too much, so why bother; this is all we have time for; we don’t have enough people to help; who is going to do it because it isn’t going to be me; and so on. From time to time someone may come across a new idea in a magazine or in a Pinterest post but their corporate culture shoots it down so fast people just stop trying.

Change the culture you change the process!
These poor souls have neglected the daily opportunities to dance, laugh, smile, and sing as needed. Dreaming is not about the cost or the resources, it is about the possibilities. Dreaming is what can happen when you let go of all restrictions and travel back to your childhood when everything seemed possible. Dream for no other reason than to dream of something totally amazing! It is FREE to imagine and create and celebrate and make the unseen and the unexpected a possibility.

How we changed the “Culture” at our non-profit organization.
I was fortunate to work for a short time at a non-profit where the staff embraced an environment of interaction, playfulness, spontaneity, joy and humor and that culture was infused throughout the workplace. We were able to create some really memorable events with a miniscule budget and just a few volunteers. Being a tiny organization it was always all-hands-on-deck for every event. And while the staff was always a part of the actual event they had little to do with the creative process. This all changed one day at lunch when someone asked have you read the Mary Worth comic strip today? Before long it had become not only a daily occurrence but evolved us all acting aloud the cadre of fictional characters. The strip became our daily affirmation that united us all. This lengthy bout of blatant silliness led to other infectious antics like haiku poetry and the noteworthy “All Things Cheese” potluck. We soon discovered the book “The Fish Philosophy” which spoke to us as we followed its four key points; Play, Be There, Choose Your Attitude, Make Their Day. We “played” more and embraced these ideas and eventually all the volunteers became infected with this cultural contagion. By engaging the volunteer brigade in the process excitement flourished and positivity reigned. Creativity ran rampant throughout the organization and dreaming of the possibilities ensued. Now that everyone had become part of the process, our events and initiatives benefited, donations increased and it was like a dream come true. People began to dream again and those little acts of silly behavior became the catalyst for our organizations new corporate culture. All those negatives and realities seemed much easier to solve now. We found that dreaming is a lot like exercise, finding the time for it may be challenging but it is an essential component for the health of any event. Change the culture at your non-profit and revel in that “dream moment” when the anticipation of something great is possible. Also have fun with Mary Worth, dream big, reach for the stars and make someone’s day!

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Tips on how to start planning your Destination Wedding

Maui Wedding Sheraton

Destination weddings are popular anytime of year, but particularly when the weather starts to change from summer into fall and winter.   Here are the some top tips to think about when planning your Destination wedding

First is budget, like all weddings, this determines all.  Talk to your fiancé and whoever will be financing the wedding to get the total budget.

Start planning at least six months out – just like any wedding you do need to start researching the following, yes you can do this quicker, but I always suggest planning a great event with family and friends attending takes at least this much time.

Where and Feel

Where?  Will it be another country Mexico, Caribbean, Hawaii, or Europe?  Or will you choose a different state from where you live, or possibly even within your own state?  A destination wedding is considered a destination if it is more than 50 miles away from your residence.

Then the feel of the wedding, are you active, do you want something more secluded or in the lap of luxury, there are lots of options in each of these categories.

Marriage Requirements

Once you have figured out where you and your fiancé are getting married, then you need to research marriage laws.  Some countries, it is easier to get married in the US before going oversees.  If it is in another state what are the rules, is there a waiting period or can you pickup your marriage license and get married that day.  Spend time on this, you don’t want to go and find out that you need a longer waiting period or blood work done before getting a marriage license.

Hotel vs Event Space

Hotel vs Event space the question that can be determined on the feel of the wedding.  Hotels are the first places most couples look when planning a destination wedding. Many hotels offer packages that include all that you need for a wedding, and your reception can be held in the hotel restaurant or ballroom. Since everything is on property, hotels are a great option if you are seeking ease of use.

Event venues are great places to consider as well. Most offer a private area to get ready, and you can bring your own wedding professionals. Check with the venue to see if you or your caterer will need to rent tables, chairs, and linens. Most venues offer packages so you can use their preferred vendors to make your wedding special.

Other items to review with your fiancé is who is invited to the wedding, close friends and family or just family.

Finally have fun while planning your destination wedding and once you get to where you are going delegate to either a planner or close friend who is not in the wedding party to help you.  This is the time for you to enjoy your wedding!

About Taylor’d Events:

Founded in 2005, Taylor’d Events is a nationally recognized, award-winning event planning company based in Woodinville, Washington, that specializes in destination weddings on the island of Maui. A team of approachable, experienced, savvy and relationship-driven planners, Taylor’d Events stays on top of the latest trends as well as the best of wedding traditions, to provide an array of services creating distinctive and meaningful events tailored to each client. Whether it’s a Pacific Northwest wedding or on the island of Maui, Taylor’d Events creates weddings that reflect the character of each couple.

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Powerful Partners: How to Choose the Right Temporary Power Provider for Your Event

Planning for large-scale events involves a host of moving parts and collaboration with numerous vendors and equipment providers. Among these considerations, planning for power ranks fairly high on the priority list and should be part of the conversation early on. Given that most people are not power experts, with so many options for temporary power on the market, how do you know which provider is right for your event? What should you look for when evaluating your vendor options? Here we discuss a few considerations that event planners should have on their list with regard to temporary power evaluation.

Whether your event needs 50kW or 50MW, having a power solution that’s engineered for your event’s unique specifications provides solid benefits, such as identifying your needs early on and avoiding unnecessary expenditures. A good temporary power provider will provide experienced project management to analyze your true needs and design a power system that is scalable to allow your event to grow as necessary. Power providers with experience in project management also ensure that you avoid unexpected or unplanned costs as well as enact safe best practices to protect both your workers and your client’s guests. Your power vendor should also be familiar with the local electrical codes and standards for providing temporary power for indoor, outdoor and heavily or sparsely populated areas.

A power outage can be detrimental to the success of an event. Power providers with a solid history of providing reliable power to critical events are more likely to produce a smooth and reliable installation. Beware of companies without a verifiable track record. Ask for examples of their past events and previous installations that are comparable to your event’s needs. For instance, just because a company provided power for a large music festival does not mean that they are experts in powering private parties. Events vary in size, geography and power demands. Therefore, experience in managing power for a wide variety of events is the safest bet to a smooth execution.

Do they have a remote monitoring system in place to oversee fuel levels, ensure all equipment is running efficiently, and diagnose problems before they occur? Having a power provider who is equipped with a real-time remote monitoring system could make the difference between preventing an unexpected outage or incurring losses and putting your attendees’ safety at risk. Will their own team of technicians be available on-site during the event to perform maintenance or handle potential issues? Good power providers will have the in-house expertise to support your event from start to finish, ensuring flawless execution of your event’s power demands.

Safety Culture
When selecting a power provider, be sure to choose one with a strong Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) program in place, which is essential to protecting the well-being of all participants involved. Dealing with electricity in any capacity requires a very strict adherence to safety standards such as wearing protective gear, knowledge of various cables and their placement, awareness of nearby hazards, and having current safety performance statistics in good standing. Are they certified in ISO and OSHA standards? Companies who exhibit a commitment to safety through best practices and procedures further confirms their ability to effectively manage and mitigate risk.

The Environment
When planning events in heavily populated areas, consider the type of equipment that limits emissions and noise pollution for your attendees. Has the protection of the event site been considered during the pre-planning process to ensure minimal environmental impact? Has their equipment been built with acoustic enclosures and isolation systems to maximize quiet operations? Do their generator engines meet the current emission standards for the area in which your event will take place? Are their generators fuel efficient?

In summary, asking the right questions and carefully evaluating power providers when planning a large-scale event requiring supplemental energy doesn’t have to be a headache. Look for a temporary power vendor that can answer the hard questions about their equipment, reliability, experience and safety culture that will ensure your event achieves success in the safest, most cost-efficient and reliable manner possible.

Gary Meador is head of national event services for Aggreko North America. His technical expertise includes the provision of large temperature control and power distribution systems for major sporting events such as the 2014 PGA Golf Championship, 2013 U.S. presidential inauguration and 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

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Wedding PR: 5 Steps to a Successful Media Pitch

In today’s world, media pitches can be one of the most valuable strategies for increasing your press portfolio.

Brief and often as informal as an email to your editorial contact, a media pitch by definition is an attempt to persuade an editor to cover a topic.  The idea could be as directly related to your company as a full-fledge feature about your business, or something more general in scope that allows you to participate as an expert in the field.

Credit: PW Photography

Credit: PW Photography

Still sound overwhelming? Well the good news is the following five steps can serve as a guide as you begin to craft your next round of pitches:

1)    Consider your goals- It’s not enough to want more press “just because.” Establishing PR goals in advance assists you with fine-tuning your efforts and drawing a virtual road map. So ask yourself- why do you want more press? Who is your targeted audience? What media channels are they utilizing? By asking yourself the tough questions up front, you’re able to give yourself much needed focus, as well as the ability to measure the success of your efforts.

2)    Do your research- Now is the time to begin adding blogs to your daily reader, as well as snapping up your targeted print publications. Very simply- devour them. Get to know their content inside and out- the type of events they publish, the regularity of guest articles, favorite topics, etc. Additionally, seek out the best editorial contact in which to pitch your idea. By taking the time to get to know your selected outlets, you’re in a better position to customize a media pitch that will truly meet their needs.

3)    Consider your expertise- Now that you have a general idea of the type of topics your selected media channels prefer, it’s time to think on subject matter. The key is to offer something fresh and inspiring (ie: something that hasn’t been done prior) but would be an impactful piece for the readers. If, for example, you’ve found that no one has written on Event Trends in the last year but based on other articles, it would fit the readership, then that could be a great fit. And remember- each media outlet deserves it’s own topic- sending the same idea to a number of potentially competing publications would be in poor form.

4)    Pitch away- Over 90% of journalists prefer pitches via email so it’s best to take this route unless editorial guidelines for a chosen outlet specifically requests otherwise.  The goal is to keep the pitch short but sweet- start with a greeting including their name, briefly explain who you are and your reason for writing, pitch them the topic, offer resources (such as photos and your own expertise!) you can provide and then wrap up with your contact information.

5)    Follow up- It’s easy to think that the work is done should a pitch get picked up but that’s truly where the work begins. Make yourself readily available to the reporter, providing answers and resources in a timely manner. Stay in correspondence so you can make sure you are prepared to promote the feature and don’t forget to say thank you for their efforts. In the ever-changing world of PR, good manners still never goes out of style.

A well-crafted media pitch is imperative when increasing your press portfolio, so be sure to keep in mind the above while setting the stage for your next round of pitches.

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting. She loves instagramming her cups of coffee, sharing an office with her cats and scouring the industry for the latest wedding trends. OFD Consulting recently launched kits designed for Wedding Pros to help with your PR and real wedding submissions and more.

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Business Ownership and Management … Keys to Achieving Success … 25 Years of Lessons Learned

Andrea 6-4-14 I’m writing this piece for other C-Level owners and executives who have gone through the fire and for those who want to run the gauntlet of owning and running a business. I’ve been at it for 25 years, and in that time, there are certain “truths” that one learns. For instance, the photo to the right may have me appearing to relax and enjoy the day. In “truth” I’m thinking about the next event my team and I are going to produce; the next article I need to write to keep my company in the public eye and the management issues that I need to handle in the upcoming weeks. Do I travel and enjoy life? Absolutely. Do I ever stop thinking about my company’s next move? Never.

So, for the purposes of this article, let’s start from the beginning. If you are like me, I found that the toughest obstacle in launching my business was defining who I wanted to be and why. I had to define my skill set. If you came from another company to launch your own, as I did, it’s imperative to consider legally and ethically how you can promote yourself. How do you get the word out that you are in business without causing your former company harm? And then, the decision of either to go it alone or hire staff … and if so, who and why?

Read the rest of this entry »

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