Events come in a wide variety, from public lectures to national conferences to small receptions. Audiences may be students, faculty, staff, donors, alumni and members of the community. The college’s marketing and communications team can provide event planning and publicity guidance. Begin by reading the list of help topics below. If you need more information or advice, please contact the college’s special event manager, Anita Tucker, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216.368.5025.
NOTE: If you’re planning a student-run event, some different guidelines apply. The CWRU Residence Life Facilities Reservation page is a good place to start for planning these types of events.
Defining the Event
As you begin planning your event, first think about what kind of event you want it to be. Is it a seminar, reception, workshop, etc.?
Here are a few questions to ask:
- What is the purpose of this event?
- Is this event part of a series or a one-time event?
- Who is the intended audience for this event?
- About how many people do you hope/expect will attend?
- What are the intended short-term outcomes/goals for this event?
- What are the intended long-term outcomes/goals?
- What is the budget?
- Will you need additional staffing to run the event? Where can you find this support?
This list of helpful strategic questions may guide your planning process.
Determining Your Budget
It is important to have a well-defined budget for your event. The University Events tools page has a sample budget that can help you plan and execute your event.
Reserving Event Space
Allow plenty of time to reserve space for events. Remember that campus facilities fill up quickly. Spaces have different reservation protocols, resources and rules for what you can and can’t do there. Some charge a fee, others don’t. Think about your expected size of audience, technology needs, catering, seating plan, need for furniture rearrangement, parking, security, etc. Remember that spaces that seem very open and public, including outdoor spaces, often require a reservation, so it’s best to check well ahead of time. The university uses the Virtual EMS platform to book many events spaces, including classrooms and academic spaces (CWRU single sign-on required).
Determining Catering Needs
An important first step is to talk to the people who control the space you’ll be using for the event. Some spaces provide on-site catering and have staff who will serve as your liaison with other vendors. Other spaces have strict limitations on what, if any, food and drink can be consumed there.
Caterers may have specific time requirements for placing or changing orders, so be sure to contact caterers a minimum of one month in advance of a small event and even longer for large events. You can find helpful information in the university’s guidelines for choosing caterers. The university also provides a list of preferred caterers.
There are also special rules you must follow if you will be serving alcohol at an event, especially if students are attending. Please review the alcohol guidelines and follow them carefully.
Publicizing Your Event
When planning an event, the most important part is getting people to attend. You must decide who you would like to attend and find the best ways to reach your desired audience.
- Make a timeline – start early!
- What information should you publicize? Consider the date, time, location, cost, contact information, website URL and event description
- Determine appropriate publicity media according to the size of the event, desired audience, budget, etc. (using flyers, invitations, emails, etc.)
- Determine how to reach your audience
For ideas on how to promote your event, including how to post your event on the college and university’s online calendars, please visit our “Publicity” page.
Special event parking guidelines exist for booking campus lots and parking services. After confirming availability of parking, be sure to communicate parking locations, hours and costs in your event materials.
University Movers manage the university’s meeting room setups and can provide furniture rentals (tables, chairs, etc.) and moving services for events on campus. Submit a University Movers work order request form, or for more information you can contact them at 216.368.4475.
Media Vision provides traditional audio visual, video and event support services for all of the Case Western Reserve University community.
Large events and those with special security concerns (e.g. those involving money or alcohol) may require the presence of one or more security officers. Security staffing is provided for a fee by Protective Services. The director of Protective Services will work with you to determine the security needs of your event.
Note that requests for officers are required 72 hours in advance of the event for one officer, and an additional 24 hours’ notice is required for every additional officer requested. If you use a building after hours, be sure to contact security to ensure that the doors are unlocked.
Guest Reservations at Your Event
Asking guests to RSVP is a standard event procedure. Whether you utilize an email or printed invitation, it’s important to always give a deadline date early enough to allow time to give a final count to caterers or to make follow-up phone calls to those who have not responded.
Free tools like Eventbrite may be helpful in collecting data and automating messaging about your event.
To make your event run smoothly, it is helpful to utilize an event brief. Event briefs are a convenient way to include your event schedule and all important contacts on one page. This helps you, the event organizer, to prevent or fix any unexpected problems that may arise before or during the event. A brief also lets event participants, such as speakers or special guests, know what they have to do and when. Here is a sample event brief. Another exists on the University Events tools page.
Some standard operating tools you may wish to incorporate include:
- Record of who attended and who did not
- Record of expected vs. final attendance numbers
- Include evaluations (see below) to gather email addresses (especially for a public event)
Follow-up and evaluations after an event can help you plan for future events for determining budget, food and space preferences, topical interests and so on.
When possible, especially for a lecture or academic program, an evaluation by all guests should be completed. You can do this online 1-2 days after an event on Survey Monkey or another online questionnaire, or more immediately by handing out paper forms for guests to complete at the event. These evaluations allow you to gather mail and/or email addresses for future communications.
The budget for each event (which will be created in the planning process) should be reconciled post-event. Please submit receipts and invoices in a timely manner.
Review the Event
Did you have too much/not enough food? Did you need to rent more or less chairs/tables? You can adjust your future budgets based on surpluses/deficits of goods and services. Have post-event notes to review for next time or to pass on to future event planners.
NOTE: If you received address changes or other changes, please contact your development officer liaison with any updated information after the event.