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Event Best Practices

Event Planning

Take time to come up with a plan. Don’t “wing it.”

  • Correctly estimate the time you need to plan an event based on the number of attendees you expect.
    • Less than 100 attendees: 8 weeks
    • 100-400 attendees: 8-12 weeks
    • 400-800 attendees: 3-5 months
    • 800+ attendees: 6 months to 1 year
  • Get help from Purdue for Life Foundation staff for promotional materials.
    • Please remember that we request 4 weeks notice for the release of an email promoting an event. Please fill out a pre-event information form to request one or both. Please refer to Appendix D: Event Checklist and Budget Estimate Sheet as a reference guide with a detailed timeline.
  • Make a checklist for step by step organization and execution of your event.
  • Develop a budget for your event.
  • Remember that things will change. It is best to be flexible when planning an event.

Event Marketing

People won’t come to an event they don’t know about. In additional to proper planning, you need to get the word out.

  • Create a detailed marketing plan for your event. Involve all the members of your team who will be involved in the event and programming.
  • Be proactive.
  • Collaborate internally and externally.
  • Define good reasons for why people should attend your event. Create a buzz before your event even occurs by promoting:
    • Membership benefits
    • Special guest speaker/appearance
    • Entertainment
    • Organization update
    • Educational content


Use registration to know who will be attending your event.

  • Give early bird incentives to people who register early.
  • Remember you will always have late sign ups.

Social Media

Using social media can not only help promote your event but also enhance the experience for attendees before, during, and after.

  • Use social media to promote your event.
  • Create FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – Attendees will want to share a great experience. Create that great experience!
  • Encourage posting, sharing, and liking at your events.
  • Have a specific person in charge of social media for the event. This includes pre- and post-event.
  • Keep your social media followers on the same page for your event with a hashtag.
  • When designing the space for your event, remember your event is the backdrop for a photo. Think of the visual elements that would get your attendees to stop and take a photo and incorporate that into your event naturally.
  • Repost interesting stories and photos after the event.

Event Venue

The venue you select can be a draw for your event.

  • Keep in mind if the venue location would directly conflict with your brand and messaging.
  • If your event is outdoors, note your surroundings. What is nearby in sight that would conflict with your brand and messaging?
  • Do you have a rain location?
  • Ensure that the venue is equipped with what you need: food and beverage, lighting, Audio/Video, restrooms, Wi-Fi, etc.
  • For events larger than 300 attendees, a venue site visit is recommended.
  • Consider parking options for your attendees. Will you validate parking? Are your attendees older and might need more assistance? Do you need to mail out parking passes ahead of time?
  • If you plan to use technology during your event, check on the strength of their Wi-Fi. Have a test run of your technology BEFORE the event date.

Put Yourself in their Shoes

Think of the event from your attendee’s perspective.

  • Take time to walk through the flow of your event and what attendees will be experiencing.
  • If your attendees aren’t happy, regardless of the goal, they will leave with a negative impression of your brand.
  • Think through these stages:
    • Arrival to venue
    • Check-in
    • First look at event space
    • Food and beverage experience
    • Programming, entertainment, event messaging, etc.
    • Remember the A/V needed for your event. If no one on your team has knowledge in A/V, hire someone.
    • Check with your venue on their house A/V system.
    • Post-event communications/actions
  • Don’t overlook planning for what comes AFTER your event. Have a plan for post-event follow-up.
    • Engaging follow-up email with survey, video, pictures, etc.
    • Whatever your follow-up looks like, do it immediately. Logistics may be done, but it is important to connect with you attendees while it is fresh in their minds.

After the Event

Demonstrate the success of the event.

  • Go over financials of the event.
  • Evaluate the good, bad, and the ugly.
  • If this is recurring event, begin planning for next year
Purdue for Life Foundation

Patsy J. Mellott

BS College of Health and Human Sciences, 1969
Fishers, IN

Patsy earned a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition in business from Purdue in 1969, in addition to an MBA in food marketing from Michigan State University in 1970. She retired from Kraft Foods in 2006 after 36 years in corporate food marketing and marketing communications management.

A community volunteer, Patsy serves on the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana Advisory Board and the Purdue College of Health and Human Sciences Dean’s Leadership Council, in addition to the President’s Council Advisory Board. She is a former member of the Health and Human Sciences Alumni Board. Patsy held several offices from 2006 through 2013, including president and treasurer. She serves her community’s Discover Indianapolis Club in Fishers, holding several leadership roles for over 10 years.

Patsy has received several honors, including the Purdue University Nutrition Science Department Hall of Fame recipient in 2009 and the Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016. She also received the college’s Gold and Black Award in 2016, an honor reserved for donors who have moved the college forward by committing exceptional financial resources.

In addition to endowing two scholarships, the Patsy J. Mellott Scholarship and Patsy J. Mellott HHS Scholarship, she established the Patsy J. Mellott Teaching Innovation Award in the College of Health and Human Sciences in 2013. In 2015, she endowed the Patsy J. Mellott Women’s Tennis Coach Performance Award. She is a lead donor in the Christine M. Ladisch Faculty Leadership Award and the Purdue Women’s Network Virginia C. Meredith Scholarship for the College of Health and Human Sciences.