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3 Leadership Strategies for Event Planners in Uncertain Times: Advice from Meghan Ely


While the talk of returning to more in-person events increases each day, Meghan Ely, owner of OFD Consulting, says, “there is still a lot of uncertain times to come.”

Meghan, who recently shared her thoughts about leadership for event planners, said an important lesson became more apparent during the last year of the pandemic. “In uncertain times, clients, vendors, other colleagues…they’re all looking for people to rise above and demonstrate their authority and expertise.”

Long known for her in-the-trenches event experience and love of wedding PR to help clients take their business to new heights, Meghan explained three strategies planners can and should use to convey leadership and expertise to their clients.

Own Your Channels

“It all starts with your channels,” explained Meghan. “Any call-to-action you put out there through your promotions should be a direct call back to your website.”

Get started building authority, leadership, and content on your channels. “To show you’re an expert at what it is you say that you do, you have to show that you can do it,” said Meghan. “One thing that has impressed me incredibly during these times is those people who have leaned into the crisis.” For example:

Meghan also explained the importance of having a dedicated section on your site to show updated reviews. “We find that in statistics of people age 18 to 35, 33 percent of them are going to be more likely to book a higher ticket purchase if there are positive reviews.” She added, “84 percent of them say they aren’t going to look at a site if reviews are three-plus months or older because it’s no longer relevant.”

And even if you haven’t done a lot of events in the last year, Meghan says that when events start happening again, “It behooves you to go out and get reviews from those who have been doing business with you.”

Beyond your site, other channels to own include your email list and social media. “It isn’t enough to have a blog. Send emails and put content out regularly to reinforce the authority you’re trying to demonstrate.”

She also suggested doing an informal audit of your marketing and promotion efforts. “Look at your website, look at your social, look at your email marketing efforts, and ask yourself, is there more I can be doing to show my areas of expertise?”

Work on Earned Media

“Owned media is what you can control,” explained Meghan. “Earned media is when someone else says that you’re great.” For example, a blog published on a planner’s site is owned media, but a blog published on a third-party site is earned – “it’s almost as if that same content has earned a stamp of approval when shared on another site,” said Meghan.

One easy tip to start on the road to earned media is to get quoted in another publication. “If you haven’t signed up for Help a Reporter Out (HARO), start there,” said Meghan. “It’s free, with journalists listing articles and stories they’re working on. You literally click on topics you can contribute to.” Meghan added this simplifies the process of and time for researching possible contacts to build relationships with.

Another tip? Go to your local magazines, newspapers, and websites and search to see what they’re covering in your particular area of expertise. “Once you find out who is writing those stories, make an introduction via email and share three lines about you that will dazzle them, with a link to your site,” suggested Meghan. “Then let them know that if they need any content in that realm, you’re happy to assist them.”

Because media outlets are always looking for fresh content, don’t forget about photos as being a source to share too. “Especially right now, editors want your micro weddings, your COVID-friendly solutions, ideas to be safe and stylish, and those that show diversity too.”

Meghan also recommended staying mindful of rising media outlets. “Podcasts have been around for a long time, but it’s a great place to showcase your personality. Go to Google and search podcasts for your niche to find potential guest speakers that you might have good chemistry with.”

Once you find two or three that are regularly featuring other speakers, “identify and reach out to them to pitch what you can add to the conversation that’s fresh and inspiring.”

Go After Industry Recognition

“It isn’t just about your own channels, and it isn’t just about PR,” said Meghan. “It’s also the recognition among peers, as that’s going to be great for people in the position to refer business to you.”

There are many different ways to go after industry recognition:

  • Join industry associations
  • Volunteer for committees
  • Look for award opportunities
  • Make yourself available for speaking opportunities or panel discussions
  • Jump on Clubhouse

When it comes to conveying leadership and expertise, Meghan explained it all starts with asking yourself, “How do I use these to help my brand, and what has to happen for this to be a success?” She continued, “after you audit your channels, go back and take a look at one or two changes you can make yourself, or consider bringing in someone who is in a position to help make those changes.”

For more advice for successfully running your event planning business, watch the full webinar on-demand: Conveying Leadership and Expertise with Clients in Uncertain Times or check out Prismm’s calendar of upcoming free webinarscovering careers, event planning and design, and other timely topics. 

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