BizTimes Article

The best professional advice I’ve received came from someone I only worked with for a few months. A decade later I remember this producer and how he shaped my work ethic, probably for life.

You can tell he knows what he’s talking about because his phone number is probably in Shaq’s mom’s speed dial. Yes, that Shaq. He’s been producing high-level corporate and celebrity charity events since before I was born, and taught me the most important lesson I’ve learned: As an event producer, if you’re doing anything the day of your event, you haven’t done your job right in the first place.

Planning, planning, planning. It’s everything in the events industry. The more you do it the better you get. By showtime, the only thing on your mind should be a backup plan in case something goes haywire. Every other detail should be taken care of already.

That’s why it can be helpful to have an event professional alongside when you’re executing a major event, be it a conference, trade show, fundraiser or even a wedding. You probably want to attend the event along with your guests, so having someone else behind the scenes can make your life easier in lots of ways.

They know what they’re doing: With practice and experience comes excellence. Someone who has been in the industry a long time is better at meeting their clients’ needs than someone who’s put in charge of an event for their organization just because they “like throwing parties.” It’s not the same. I promise.

Your employees can stick to what they know best: Sometimes companies have an in-house event team, and all it does is plan corporate outings. However, other organizations are too small to warrant a designated position for this, so the task often falls to marketing departments, HR reps or administrative personnel. Adding the responsibility of a big event on top of their full-time job can be daunting and takes away time that would be better spent focusing on your business’ brand, product or customers.

Surprises probably don’t surprise them: I once had a producer pull our sales rep out of the green room and made him crawl along the front of the stage to hold up a teleprompter monitor that slid down its stand in the middle of a CEO’s keynote address. Out of the thousands of people in the audience, no more than a few tables in the front noticed, and the rest of the address went on without interruption. Had we had to stop the show to wait for a tech to come fix the stand, the disruption would have deflated the room’s atmosphere, and nobody would have stayed focused on the CEO’s message. Crisis averted. Event professionals know how and when to call an audible to keep things moving so you and your attendees can focus on what matters.

They’ve got connections: Do a Google search and you will find hundreds, yes hundreds, of photographers in our area. Any idea how many caterers? Where do you even start looking for staging, sound and lighting gear if your venue doesn’t have what you need? Even if you do large events for your company on an annual basis, it can be hard to keep track of all the vendors, especially when new technologies and trends constantly pop up. Event professionals build lasting relationships through time because they work with these folks on a regular basis.

They save you time: Perhaps the most sought after commodity these days is our time. Work is demanding, your neighbor could use your help this weekend, you should probably go to the gym to an hour, too, but who has time for fit it all in? You just want to go home after a long day. So, when the florist’s wholesaler truck gets stranded in an ice storm and you have to find someone else to get those orange-but-not-too-orange calla lilies for your daughter’s bridal bouquet this weekend because nothing else will be acceptable, who’s got time to deal with that? An event professional’s got your back.

When it comes down to it, no, you probably don’t need a professional event producer — you could try to do it all yourself. But do you really want to?