If you’ve organised events before, you’ll know how much you worry about everything being perfect on the night, but in our experience, it always turns out in the end. This is mostly due to excellent planning and great team work!

As most of you know, I Chair the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Scotland Group and last week, Thursday, 24 October, the biggest PR event in the calendar, in Scotland, took place – the CIPR PRide Awards. The awards celebrate the very best PR and communications talent in Scotland. 330 very well dressed guests turned out at The Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow and the feedback has been excellent.

The award entries were the highest ever and the event was a sell-out a few weeks before it took place. We had colleagues from CIPR come up from London, Jane Wilson (CEO) and Phil Morgan (Director of Policy and Communications), sponsors, CIPR members and non-members and CIPR Scotland partners.

Feedback has included: “topped last year’s event”, “raised the game on last year”, “the 10th Anniversary Pride Awards night was a great evening” and “I understand PRide Scotland awards is rated as the best – and biggest – of the CIPR Pride Awards ceremonies.   A great complement to all involved.”

People tweeted throughout the night and the following day (hashtag #prideSCO if you want to search) and it looks like the PR community enjoyed celebrating together.

It does however take time, effort and sometimes more patience than a patient thing, to bring it all together!

Thanks to our colleagues at CIPR, who co-ordinated the venue, PA, entries and the logistics whilst we co-ordinated Scottish sponsors, the programme, special awards, entertainment, a raffle and prizes and some added extras such as photography, filming and details in dressing the room.

On the day, we had five student helpers from the City of Glasgow College – what a Godsend they were! They assisted us in setting up the room, the display wall, photography, filming, guest liaison and helped us out on the evening with the raffle. The feedback from the students was really encouraging and they took a lot away from their hands on experience. We’re hoping some of the college students go on to study CIPR accredited PR courses, so we’ll see them again in the future!

I was a bit nervous about my speech, it has to be said. In front of former employers, your peers and some even your friends! Not least because I woke up the morning of the awards with a sore throat! However, with my speech completed a few days ahead of the event I had time to rehearse. It’s important in the speech to ensure you thank everyone, but also to keep it fairly light and of course people don’t want to listen to you for hours, so keep it short and to the point.

The DJ I had booked was recommended, Mark Robb, a Glasgow club owner and a well known performer in the Glasgow jazz scene. I thought this would go down well after a good awards ceremony and Mark didn’t disappoint. I even heard Michael Jackson at one point! There was some seriously dodgy dancing taking place after!

Have a look at the pics from the night, kindly sponsored by John Linton Photography.

Here’s my top tips for a successful awards dinner:

  • Plan ahead and ensure there’s a timeline in place for all activity, especially design and print
  • Ensure all your confirmations are documented and terms/ payment is agreed
  • If you can find an activity list or tick list from a previous year, then make good use of it. Ensure you’re ahead of the game
  • Think about everything from a guest’s point of view – what would you expect and what’s likely to cause an issue. If you can think like this, you can minimise any issues and maximise the fun
  • Work as a team – communicate with each other regularly, update action plans, delegate tasks and ensure your team is happy with everything
  • If there’s a way to involve people that would enjoy and benefit from the experience, do it. It’s great to have the extra hands but it’s also great to give something back
  • If you’re managing budgets, ensure the budget sheet is continually updated and don’t think about spending extra money (no matter how little) if it’s not really going to add value or a return for the investment. It can be tempting though!
  • Detail is important – make sure you think the whole journey through from arrival to leaving. What experience do you want guests to have? What do you want them to say when they leave?
  • Make sure your event is well sign posted – ensure guests know where they are doing within the venue
  • If it’s a big event and you might like to think about security – one or two stewards can make a difference and can also double up to help guests with venue queries such as toilets and cloakroom
  • Ensure your sponsors are looked after – if you can, it might make sense to have a separate VIP drinks reception so you can meet and greet guests there
  • Have fun and smile – even if you’re stressed about something!
  • Always follow up with your team and sponsors after the event, thanking everyone for their support

Finally, it’s always good to debrief after an event, to talk about the good points and areas for improvement. We can always learn!

If you found this post interesting or useful feel free to share – thanks!

Blog by Laura Sutherland MCIPR