KHP in sunshine on a fall day

9 Things to Do for a Successful PLU Event

This Event Planning Guide is here to guide PLU students, faculty and staff who coordinate on-campus events. It includes the key components of event planning for large and small scale events, including catering, marketing, audio/visual needs, and more! Keep in mind that while this guide is presented numerically, the event planning process is not always linear.

If you have any specific questions about your event in regards to logistics, accessibility, etc., here are some resources to help you out:

Event Concept Development

Spending time to conceptualize your event and develop a plan gives you the ability to be intentional about collaboration and program design. The PLU Event Planning Form is a tool designed to lead event planners through the Event Concept Development phase. Copy and paste the PLU Event Planning template into a Google Doc for on-going collaborative event planning, task management and historical records for you and your advisor/supervisor, dean or budget head.

1. Brainstorming + Collaboration

Your mission as an event planner is to invent, create and produce events that are meaningful, creative and inspiring. To reach this goal successfully, spend some significant time brainstorming and building collaborative partnerships to make this event a success for the whole university.

When possible, collaboration is strongly encouraged as it can mean more resources are being put toward an event, fewer events are happening at the same time(s), and our PLU community is being strengthened by people/departments working together to achieve common goals.

For larger events especially, it’s recommended that a planning committee be formed that is comprised of various people who will help to make the event a reality. This may include people such as campus partners, marketing person(s), advisors/supervisor, or club officers.

Key questions to ask yourself in this phase of the process are:

    • What are the goals/objectives I’m hoping to fulfill by putting on an event?
    • What type of event will fulfill these goals/objectives?
    • Is the event I want to do in alignment with PLU’s mission statement?
    • Is the event I want to do in alignment with PLU’s values of diversity, justice and sustainability (DJS)?

As an Event Planner on a small campus, it’s important to consider who/what department you can partner with to put on your event. Oftentimes event planning happens in silos rather than among different people and departments working together to achieve a common goal. Rather than thinking of your event as a dinner party hosted by you, where you are responsible for the entirety of its success, it’s best if you approach more like a potluck where multiple people/groups come together to make the event the best it can be!

For larger events especially, it’s recommended that a planning committee be formed that is comprised of various people who will help to make the event a reality. This may include people such as campus partners, marketing person(s), advisors/supervisors or club officers.

Key questions to ask yourself at this point in the process:

    • What collaborations can be formed to double the impact of my event without doubling the workload?
    • What events have I seen or attended in the past that I may be able to draw upon?

Take a look at the different centers across campus and the work they do to see who you may be able to collaborate with:

    • The Diversity Center: Seeks to empower the PLU community to engage in dialogue, programs, and initiatives that promote and enhance equity, agency, and action. Contact: dcenter@plu.edu or 253-535-8750.
    • Center for Gender Equity: Supports, challenges, and empowers students, staff, and faculty to combat gender-based oppression and enact positive social change through educational programming, mentoring, awareness-raising events, and celebration. Contact: cge@plu.edu or 253-535-8759.
    • Center for Community Engagement and Service: Serves as a resource for students, staff, and faculty who want to learn and serve in the context of the Parkland and Tacoma community. Contact: service@plu.edu or 253-535-7652.
    • Wang Center for Global Education: Dedicated to supporting faculty, students and staff with the resources necessary to advance PLU’s distinction and vision for global education of “educating to achieve a just, healthy, sustainable and peaceful world” through faculty development and grant opportunities, delivery of study away programs, on-campus programming on pressing world issues, and a commitment to best practices when engaging with education partners, both locally and globally. Contact: wang.center@plu.edu and 253-535-7577.
    • Wild Hope Center for Vocation: Promotes and provides a range of opportunities to engage with, discern, and live out vocation. This is done through educating/mentoring students, faculty and staff, creating opportunities for the discernment of vocation, developing resources, and cooperative engagement through others on campus. Contact: wildhope@plu.edu or 253-535-7192.

Endowed lectures: Often annual or bi-annual events, endowed lectures typically draw large audiences on campus and can serve as great opportunities for collaboration. To learn more about the endowed lectures and their intended goals, please visit this page.

Attendance of the President and/or Provost:

    • If you would like to extend an invitation for your event to the President, please contact president@plu.edu or 253-535-7101.
    • If you would like to extend an invitation for your event to the Provost, please contact provost@plu.edu or 253-535-7129.

To frame the eventevent planners may also consider acknowledging PLU’s diversity statement:

Diversity is “the condition of difference necessary to all life and creativity.”  (Martusewicz, Edmundson, and Lupinacci, Ecojustice Education: EcoJustice Education: Toward Diverse, Democratic, and Sustainable Communities, 2011)

Thus, at PLU, diversity is intrinsic to the vitality of learning, resilience and growth.

This statement expresses diversity as a value inherent in PLU’s identity as an institution of Lutheran Higher Education and as core to our mission”to educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care – for other people, for their communities, and for the Earth.” Using it to frame your event can help communicate its connection to broader institutional values and priorities as well as to other events that address topics of diversity and inclusion. More information about diversity and inclusion efforts at PLU can be found here.

2. Consider Your Timeline + Choose Your Date(s) Carefully

Our hope is to provide our campus community with options for engagement while minimizing competing events.  Consulting with campus calendar resources and developing a timeline to ensure thoughtful planning and promotion can help maximize event attendance.

Consulting campus calendar resources is a crucial step in the event-planning process. By being aware of what events are happening around campus, we are able to decrease the number of overlapping events and give each event the attention it deserves. Take a look at the calendar resources below, be on the lookout for conflicting dates and plan accordingly! Ask yourself: Do my dates conflict with a major university event such as Homecoming & Family Weekend, the Holocaust Education Conference or Commencement?

Campus Calendar: This is a master calendar curated by contributors across campus that allows individuals to filter by category and audience. This calendar also includes major interfaith holidays to consider. ALL event planners need to post their event to the Campus Calendar at least two weeks prior to their event.

Academic Calendar: Hosted by the Registrar’s Office, this calendar is finalized three years in advance.

Annual University-Wide Events: Managed by Events, this calendar highlights university priorities.

Faculty Assembly Schedule: Faculty meet at least once a month during Fall and Spring semesters.

On our vibrant campus, there isn’t a “best” time to host an event, to ensure the entire campus community will be available to attend. However, all should consider their audience when choosing a time frame for their event. Ask yourself: Who is my target audience and will they be available to attend during this date/time?

Consider:

    • Weekly Class Schedule: Fall/Spring, J-Term
    • University Chapel Schedule: During Fall/Spring semesters chapel is held Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30am-11:00am.
    • Faculty Assembly: Check the site for meeting times.
    • Events starting Sunday—Thursday must be over by 11:45pm and events starting on Friday or Saturday must be over by 2:00am

A timeline is a tool to help event planners to best meet their goals and hold themselves accountable. When created in the Concept Development phase, timelines also offer a realistic estimate of the earliest date your event can be hosted. Utilize the resources under Event Logistics to develop a timeline. Ask yourself: How long a planning process is required to ensure contracts, marketing, and approval timelines are met?

Things to consider when building a timeline:

    • What is the ideal date for this event?
    • How long will it take to design and create marketing materials?
    • For smaller events, marketing materials should be posted at least two weeks before the event date. For larger events, marketing materials should be posted at least one month before the event date.
    • What are the required timelines for requesting rooms, catering and tech?
    • Students should factor an extra two weeks into their Event Planning Timeline to account for the time needed to receive feedback and approval of an event.
    • MARKETING TIMELINE CALCULATOR:
        • The Marketing Timeline Calculator Tool is meant to help you develop a marketing timeline.
        • First, select the projected size of your event, the date of your event and the marketing materials you’d like to use.
        • The tool will generate “Reservations” and “Materials” timelines outlining the dates by which certain actions should be completed.

Timeline guidelines:

    • If your event expects 100+ people or includes any signing of contracts or coordination of travel/hotel arrangements, your Event Planning Form Proposal should be completed four or more months in advance (Fall-semester events may need to be planned during Spring semester depending on summer availability).
    • For all other events, your Event Planning Form Proposal should be completed four weeks in advance.

3. Budget + Funding

Once you’ve established ideation around your event, identified the campus partner(s) you will be working with and established a timeline, you will need to determine your budget. Budgeting ensures that the dollars available are best utilized to meet the goals of the event. Designing a budget in the Event Concept Development phase gives event planners time to seek additional funding and intentionally allocate money according to priorities.

Have you considered attaching a fee to your event? While most PLU events are free, not all are.

Student Funding Sources

    • ASPLU Funding: Partner with an ASPLU Senator to sponsor your program or initiative through the creation of an ASPLU Bill. Students should allow for at least one month to allow the Bill to be created, introduced (one week), and approved (one week).
    • DJS Award: The DJS FUNd team will fund a variety of projects, though priority will be given to ideas that are socially relevant and accessible, culturally appropriate and sensitive, environmentally conscious and productive, and economically sound and supportive, and/or have a potential for lasting impact on campus climate
    • SAB Appropriations: This source encourages student clubs and organizations to plan and implement programs and activities for students.

Faculty, Staff and Student Funding Sources

    • Center for Wild Hope: Funds are available to members of the university who propose an activity, a research project or participation in a conference or workshops that will enhance the exploration of vocation. For more information take a look at the Wild Hope Funding Request Guidelines.
    • Grants: There are various outside resources available to students, faculty and staff that may be able to help fund your event!

    • Budget Planning: First determine in which areas you will be spending (e.g., marketing, speaker fees, catering, supplies, thank you gifts). Next, considering event priorities, set your pricing fees and audience size and allocate dollar amounts to each area. Consider whether you will charge attendance fees at the event or whether it will be free of charge.
    • Budget Feasibility: Does your budget allow for the proposed event costs? If not, be sure to learn more about funding options
    • Budget Management: Track spending in the Budget tool to record actual costs. While it is bottom-line budgeting that matters most, thoughtful consideration and consultation should be made before overspending in one area rather than another.

Event planners are expected to be responsible with their money when planning their events. Each form is processed by the Business Office and has a different approval process. Be sure to familiarize yourself with each form’s process before your event. If you have any questions about these processes, ask your advisor/supervisor, dean or budget head.

If you have any questions please contact the Business Office at buso@plu.edu or 253-535-7171.

*Feedback & Approval*

At this point you should check-in with your advisor/supervisor, dean, or budget head to get feedback on where you’re at in the planning process. Ask questions, troubleshoot, or simply get an affirmation that you’re heading in the right direction.

Feedback & Approval Guidelines:

    • This step in the process is required for all students!
    • Event Planning Forms should be submitted for feedback at least four weeks prior to your event date.
    • The Event Planning Form is due at least four months in advance if your event expects 100+ people, includes any contracts to be signed or requires the coordination of flights and/or hotels.

4. Marketing + Audience Development

There are various ways you can spread awareness about your event but they are only effective when they’re given enough time to work! Marketing & Communications and IMPACT (student designers) are two teams on campus that are able to assist you with advertising needs such as graphic design, printing and photography. The Marketing Timeline Calculator is a great tool to help you map out a marketing plan!

If you are unsure which team makes the most sense for you to work with, here are some tips:

    • For smaller events targeting the PLU community it is recommended you work with IMPACT.
    • For larger events targeting the greater Parkland/Tacoma area, it is recommended you work with Marketing & Communications.

For ideas on how you can market your event, check out these different ways to advertise on campus:

Print Marketing Cost Estimate Sheet

Click HERE to view cost estimates to help you build your budget.

    • IMPACT Boards: If you’d like IMPACT to print and distribute your posters, use the Quick Copy Request form. If you have printed posters you want IMPACT to distribute to their boards, drop them off with the Student Engagement Office to be approved. IMPACT typically distributes posters two days a week; check their site to ensure you know their distribution days!
        • How to Get Printed Posters Approved by Student Engagement: Drop off your posters at the Student Engagement Office front desk in AUC 161, weekdays between 8am and 5pm to be stamped and approved. IMPACT recommends submitting posters two to three weeks before the day you want them distributed to ensure time to approve or modify them if necessary. Posters MUST include the full name of the organizational sponsor, the time/date/location of the event, any entry fees/costs for entrance and contact information for the event (email/phone number) to be approved.
    • Tabletop Ads: Ad requests are to be completed at least one to two months before your event—but that does not guarantee advertising space, as it will be dependent on availability.
    • Butcher-paper Posters: Butcher-paper posters must be approved by Student Engagement before being displayed.

    • Campus Calendar: Submit your event to Localist at least two to three weeks prior to the event.
    • Digital Display Ads: While there is virtually no limit to how many digital ads can run at one time, it is recommended you submit a digital ads request at least one week before you’d like the ad to run.
    • Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.
    • Campus Newsletters/Emails: Depending on the group/organization, newsletters are sent out monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly so it is recommended you ask the group/center if your event can be included in their newsletter at least one month in advance. Examples groups/centers that send out campus newsletters/emails:
      • Diversity Center
      • Center for Community Engagement & Service (CCES)
      • Campus Ministry
      • Center for Gender Equity (CGE)
      • Clubs & Organizations
      • Campus Ministry
      • The Provost’s Newsletter
      • PLU Alumni Newsletter
      • Spotlight Series
    • MAST Media Ads: Contact mastads@plu.edu to learn more about how to get a paid ad in the MAST Media Magazine.
    • News Release: A short written informational statement announcing a topic of public interest.

Often times local publications will have a public calendar dedicated to community events. Below is a list of publications you may be able to reach out to about adding your event to their calendar or you may be able to add it yourself:

    • Tabling: Tabling space/time(s) should be coordinated with Hospitality Services at least two weeks prior to when you would like to table and you should be tabling at least one week before your event.
    • Chalking Policy: Using chalk to share information about your event on sidewalks/pavement is a fun and relatively eye-catching way of advertising. All chalking requests must be submitted through the Chalking Request Form and must be approved by Student Engagement before chalking.
    • Flyers/Posters in Residence Halls: Any posters/ads must be coordinated with the Community Director of the building in conjunction with Student Engagement.
    • Classroom Announcements: Reach out to the professor and ask about making an announcement!
    • Word of Mouth: This is the most powerful marketing tool on our campus!

As an event planner you must be able to distinguish between different audience types. By knowing who your audience is, you will be able to tailor the experience of your event appropriately. Event planning is not a case of “build it and they will come,” but rather a situation in which the way you build it should demonstrate that you had your audience in mind.

Ask yourself:

    • Who is the target audience of this event?
    • Where is my target audience located?
    • What are their needs?
    • What is the right channel/medium to reach them through?

Event Logistics

5. Reserve a Space

The space you choose assists in the creation of the appropriate atmosphere and sets the tone for your event. Too big a space can lack intimacy while too small a space can feel cramped. To meet the intended goals of your event and to ensure your guests are comfortable, it’s important to choose the right kind of venue.

EMS is used to schedule spaces for events and reserve resources on campus. EMS allows reservations to be made up to 365 days before your event but if you would like to make a reservation more than a year in advance of your event, contact Hospitality Services at 253-535-7450 or by email at events@plu.edu.

For larger events that require bigger spaces it’s recommended that you book the space at least 12 months in advance; for smaller events it’s recommended that you book your space at least three months in advance.

*Be sure to utilize a space that is accessible to attendees using wheelchairs, walkers, canes, etc. EMS provides information about the accessibility of each space.*

6. Outfit Your Event

Imagine your event space is a blank slate. Try to envision everything you’ll need for your event, and assume that your space does not come equipped with any of these things! Click through the following options to learn about how to best meet the needs of your event.

There are a lot of venue options at PLU. These venues vary in size, capacity and location. Venues, pictures, room configurations and in-room equipment are shown on the PLU Hospitality Services website and in EMS.

Setting up a space is about more than just tables and chairs. For Hospitality Services, we have a multitude of items available for your use.

Instructional Technologies can help with all of your media service needs, such as sound support, media, audio/video recording, and streaming services. To view information regarding service types and request deadlines, review the Instructional Technologies Request/Change Policy. If you have questions email media@plu.edu or call 253-535-7509.

Tips and considerations regarding accessibility and audibility/visibility:

    • If you are giving a PowerPoint presentation during your event, the font size should be no smaller than 16 pt to ensure your guests can read it from a distance.
    • If you show any pictures, it’s recommended that you briefly describe what each image shows for those who are visually impaired.
    • Have you consider providing ASL interpreters?
    • Do you need to provide microphones to ensure those speaking can be heard clearly?

The Staging Services team provides lighting and staging in the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Mary Baker Russell Center/Lagerquist Concert Hall and Olson Auditorium. To request this service email stage@plu.edu with the date, time, location and requested equipment for your event at least one month in advance.

Encouraging guests to register for your event is a great way to anticipate event attendance, whether your event is free or requires attendees to pay.

    • If your event is free: To create an event registration form, you are encouraged to use the FormStack platform. For training or assistance, please email winterjl@plu.edu.
    • If your event requires attendees to pay: Create your event registration form through the FormStack platform. Once your form is drafted, send an email to giftproc@plu.edu to request the payment component of the form.

The Campus Concierge Community Box Office can sell/provide tickets for event guests. Please contact them directly at concierge@plu.edu or 253-535-7411 to discuss options and fees.

To sell books and/or other products through the Lute Locker: Email girnusjc@plu.edu with the date, time, location and book information for your event at least one month in advance.

To sell books and/or products at your event contact an Event Coordinator at Hospitality Services.

For questions regarding card swipe entry for events, contact the Campus Concierge by emailing concierge@plu.edu or calling 253-535-7411.

You can acquire a free day pass for parking in the Campus Safety office. For more information about parking visit the Campus Safety site or contact Campus Safety at csin@plu.edu or 253-535-7441.

These PLU Themed Powerpoint Templates can be used to create your event presentation:

7. Rules, Permits and Safety

It is important to consider safety, security, university policy and federal, state or county regulations when planning an event. Approval from university departments, waivers, permits and/or licenses may be required, depending on the type of event and activities involved. If you would like help with identifying risks for your event, reference the Risk Management Form.

All contracts with external parties must be reviewed by PLU’s Director of Risk Services. For any questions, contact Sue Liden at lidensj@plu.edu or 253-535-7116.

8. Final Checks

It’s important that, as an event planner, you double-check that all loose ends are tied up and you confirm any arrangements made along the way. By having this done in advance of your event, you give yourself time to get anything corrected that needs to be! Here is a list of things it’s recommended that you do prior to your event:

    • Any reservations or arrangements (catering, IT, etc.) made throughout the event planning process should be confirmed three days to one week in advance.
    • Send follow-up emails sharing important details, final updates, reminders, etc., at least three to five days prior to the event.
    • Double-check your inventory and ensure that you have all necessary materials for event at least two to three days prior to the event.
    • Print out all materials for event day, such as the agenda, name tags, and all necessary signage.
    • If your event involves any audio/visual components, do a full test run at least one day before your event.
    • If you are inviting someone who is likely to draw significant media attention, such as a well-known lecturer, an entertainer or political figure, notify Marketing & Communications at marcom@plu.edu.

    • Arrive at your event space at least 30 minutes early to ensure it is set up how you want. If the doors are locked call Campus Safety to have them unlocked.
    • If there is a guest speaker, make sure you have the speaker’s bio readily available.
    • Take inventory of and collect all necessary materials for the event (e.g., registration forms, name tags, scratch paper, markers.)
    • Create a “Day-of Agenda” that outlines the flow of the event and its transitions and programmatic roles.
    • Clean-up tips:
      • Event hosts/guests do not need to stack any chairs after an event but the room should be put back in its original formation.
      • Are you able to reuse any materials used during the event?
      • Recycle, discard or take with you any personal items used during the event.

Event planners may also consider adding a land acknowledgement to their event agenda. For example:

We are on the traditional lands of the Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island and Steilacoom peoples; we acknowledge and respect the traditional caretakers of this land.

This statement should be seen as an opportunity to engage students, faculty and staff in conversation about our obligations to these indigenous peoples as a university and community, and also to reflect on the event being held and its relation to this statement.

More information about this practice can be found in the guide Honor Native Land: A Guide and Call to Acknowledgement

Post Event

9. Follow-Up

The event planning process does not end once the event is over! In order for improvements to be made following the event, it’s important to take time to reflect upon the planning process and the event itself, taking note of what went well and what can be improved for the future.

    • Update budget with actual costs
    • Complete reimbursement forms
    • Send out thank you cards/emails
    • Send out assessment tools (questionnaires, surveys, etc.) to event participants and those who assisted, to get their feedback about the experience
    • Tinker, Treasure, Toss: Reflect on your event planning process and the event itself and think through what went well, what could have been done without, and what could be improved for next time