Office of Public Affairs

USM Events Planning

EVENTS PLANNING BEST PRACTICES

Events should positively reflect the University of Southern Maine. The information provided on this page is to help USM faculty and staff sort through the many necessary details to plan and execute a successful USM event. Highlights include:

 

Event Purpose

  • What is the goal/purpose of your event? What do you expect to accomplish?
    • Goals/purposes can include education, community building, recruitment, alumni relations, student engagement, donor engagement, and so on.
  • Who is your target audience? Who is the event for? 
  • Many groups at USM share a common goal -- event partnerships can help share the workload and stretch financial resources. Is there a similar group on campus that might benefit in participating in this event with you?

 

Event Roles and Responsibilities

  • Identify an event leader from your team who will be the point person for your event and/or a designated person from your team to handle all promotion for the event.
  • If the event involves alumni and/or donors, please inform University Advancement

 

Budget

  • Do you have the budget available to support the event? Are you able to plan this event with resources from your department, or should you enlist USM's Conference Services? USM Conference Services is ideal to work with if you are planning an event that meets two or more criteria: the event is open to the public, has an expected audience of at least 50, requires room set-up and tear-down, and requires catering. If you are unsure, please contact USM Conference Services at x5962 to discuss your event.
  • Outline anticipated expenses
    • Location rental fee
    • Communication and marketing expenses (costs for printed materials, hired photographers, and so on)
    • Catering: Food is often the largest expense for an event. Select your food early in the planning process and establish the per person food cost as soon as possible. Multiply the per person food cost by the anticipated attendance numbers to estimate the total catering charge.
    • Presenter fee
    • A/V: you may wish to have the event recorded for those who are unable to attend
    • Facilities management (for event set up and clean up afterwards)
    • Travel and/or housing for presenters
    • Outline projected revenue
  • Grant funds
  • Sponsorships
  • Vendors
  • Registration fees: Set your fees early in the planning stage and decide who gets a discount or a free registration. To determine your revenue, multiply the estimated attendance by the registration fee. Take into account discounted fees and free registrations.
    • Project profit/loss by subtracting total projected expenses from total projected revenue.

 

Event Date and Time

  • Event leader should develop a detailed timeline that breaks down all of the tasks that need to get done, along with who is responsible for that task and what the deadline is.
  • Check calendars of all involved
  • In order to achieve maximum attendance. It is strongly encouraged that event planning start AT LEAST 3 months prior to the event, and ideally start 6 months prior to the event.
  • Is this the best time to hold an event? Avoid setting event dates that conflict with finals, holidays, or other large events
  • Does date provide enough lead time to arrange for logistics and marketing?
  • Should a snow/rain date be set?

 

Event Location

  • Is location realistic for the expected number of attendees? For instance, a space that accommodates up to 500 people for an event that only expects 50 people can make it appear as though the event was poorly attended.
    • Determine your space requirements:
    • Is there space to hold the entire group?
    • Breakout rooms -- How many?
    • Eating space?
    • Reception space?
  • See separate listing of venue locations, capacity and contacts and read more about room set up here.

 

Event Logistics

  • Presidential Attendance Request Form to be used if your event requires the President's presence.
  • Food service: Provided by ARAMARK or a licensed, insured caterer
  • Registration: If you are registering participants, particularly if you are charging a fee, determine how you will handle the details and who will be responsible for the following:
    • Tracking registrations 
      • By email? Phone? Online?
      • What system or database will you use?
    • Sending confirmations 
    • Processing fees and refunds
    • Generating nametags
    • Staffing the on-site registration
    • Generating a participant list and final report
  • Facilities management: Work orders must be submitted for all set-up and break-down requests.
  • I.T. (Instructional Technology) or Audio/Visual: Requests for A/V equipment must be submitted to Instructional Technology
  • USM Police/Public Safety: Events at which 25 or more people are anticipated to attend, and for any high profile or controversial visitors, please provide notification to USM Police/Public Safety at x5211. They sometimes receive calls inquiring about event details and can serve as another resource for your potential attendees, plus, they may be required to provide security at the event.
  • Parking: Parking needs must be coordinated with USM Parking. Distribute valid temporary parking permits if needed.
  • Guest management? RSVPs -- online or by mail?
  • Dress code? Need coat room/rack?
  • Event staffing
  • Event tracking: How many attended? Record any feedback received.
  • Event assessment: Consider creating one if looking for feedback at the end of the event
  • Clean up: Arrangements must be made for clean up after the event. This can be arranged through facilities management.

 

How to Promote Your USM Event: Marketing and Communication

 

After Your Event

  • Congratulations!
  • Send out any follow-up communications such as thank you notes. You may also wish to have your group's designated web editor publish a news article on your department page, including any links to photos and/or share on any social media pages you may manage. You may also wish to share information with Public Affairs for any further publicity through the Submit USM News link.
  • Meet to debrief