By now you have probably heard about the 1,000s of millennials that were duped by popular 2000s rapper, Ja Rule, into paying between $1,000 to $100,000 to be stranded on a tropical island with a staff woefully underprepared to host a “festival.” If you somehow managed to avoid the social media firestorm – pun intended – you can catch up on all the drama here.
In hindsight, the potential pitfalls and red flags indicating an impending disaster are pretty evident. As PR professionals with years of experience helping our clients host successful events and tradeshows, our team understands that key steps were overlooked along the way. As Ja Rule and his partner Billy McFarland discovered, planning an event of such magnitude is not easy and cannot be pulled off without a great deal of preparation. To host a successful event, we recommend the following four tips to ensure that your event is on fire…in a good way:
Do Your Due Diligence
From planning a friend’s baby shower to putting on Coachella, you need to do your due diligence with all venue managers, vendors and artists involved. Events often fizzle out before they come to fruition because roles and team expectations are unclear – leaving details overlooked. This is exactly what happened at Fyre Festival. Event organizers were careless and lacked the necessary organization to obtain proper permits, pay vendors – and even their staff! – or budget properly. No one can deny that the Fyre Festival did a stellar job of reaching their target demographic through celebrity promotions and other campaigns, but at the end of the day, it didn’t deliver.
Arrive Early to Evaluate the Scene
As host of an event, always arrive early to evaluate the situation. If you are at an industry conference, make sure your client’s table/booth/demonstration area have been properly set up before the event begins. Once the doors open, there are no second chances. Allow for extra time to fix any issues that may have occurred during shipping, setup or as a result of miscommunication. Much as the Fyre Festival team likely did not expect to find used FEMA tents as their luxury lodging, a client doesn’t want to arrive to the venue only to discover that the pipe and drape never arrived or is the wrong color. Not only will your early arrival help ensure a positive client experience, it will also relieve undue stress during the chaotic event set-up.
If an artist has to drop out of your event, your best bet is to be as transparent as the water in the Bahamas. Consistent communication with clients, vendors and attendees will help you get in front of any potential fallout and assure all parties involved that you are prepared for any eventuality. Schedule regular update meetings with all parties involved – including your staff – so that everyone is aware of plan changes as well new opportunities that might arise. No surprises throughout the planning phase will mean fewer surprises during execution.
Have a Contingency Plan
Running low on funds? Have a secondary budget in place as well as a “no-go” plan. Caterer drop out at the last minute? Identify backup food sources so attendees don’t go hungry. Each aspect of the event should have a Plan B. PR professionals know that anything that can happen will, so planning for as many eventualities as possible will help ensure that when things do go sideways, there will be no need to panic.
Ja Rule and his team are learning the hard way what Benjamin Franklin knew long ago: If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.