Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving is Upon Us

A great bit from Armada:

There are all kinds of holidays in the US. Some of them are pretty low key affairs that hardly require much planning. St. Patrick’s Day is all about finding the shamrock pin and getting some green on. The reaction to Mother’s day and Father’s day both require some attention to food but only in the sense that one requires attendance at a restaurant and the other involves grilling in some way. But then there is Thanksgiving and no holiday is so strategic in nature. It starts with the travel that is often required. This is the week that most of us learn just what a mess the airlines are in. I can only suggest my personal mantra at this stage – “if Southwest doesn’t go there – neither do I”. Some will drive and learn that the nation’s infrastructure still needs that stimulus money.

The real strategic comes when dealing with the family. This is the holiday when all those to whom we are related feel compelled to make an appearance – the time when we become painfully aware that we don’t choose our relatives. They will descend upon some hapless member of the clan who has been designated host but few of the guests will even make an attempt at being gracious. There will be all the food demands (I don’t eat this and can’t stand that and must have that). There will be the relatives who bear long standing grudges against one another and will have to be separated at some point. There will be examples of really lax child rearing and terrified pets to contend with. The US demonstrates solidarity with traditional Islam at this holiday as there is no point when there is more segregation by gender – men in thrall to the TV and women in the kitchen. But once the tryptophan kicks in, there is that wonderful moment when everybody is too stuffed to squabble and we all have a chance to acknowledge that our family is no more dysfunctional than the neighbor’s.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday Parties On A Budget Can Be As Simple As A Potluck With A Plan

Has the dreaded down economy put a damper on your company’s holiday cheer? No worries, with an eye on your budget and a little planning you can still turn the dreaded “office potluck” into something festive and hip.

“Lavish, chic corporate holiday parties are one of my favorite events to plan,” said Lisa Holst, a certified meeting planner with EventPros Inc., a Kansas City-based special event and communications services firm. “However, it can be just as fun to transform an office or someone’s home into a fabulous event space.”

“You don’t have to be extravagant to throw a holiday party,” Holst said. “Keeping it simple can be just as nice. Start with designating a planning committee. You will be surprised at who might volunteer and how creative a group of people can get.”

“A successful event, regardless of how much money you spend, should appeal to all five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing),” she said. “If you can master this it’s sure to be a great time.”

Tips from the EventPro:

What, When and Where
The options are endless. Consider turning that lunchtime potluck into an after work cocktail party or dinner in the office. Look for an associate willing to volunteer their home. Make it cocktails and appetizers, perhaps desserts only; or go big and plan for dinner. You can still do this on a small budget.

The Food

Have your planning committee design the menu by assigning who will bring what. It can still be a “potluck” it just needs to be a “potluck with a plan”. I’ve had great success doing this with friends. A more frugal approach is to work with your local grocery store or favorite restaurant in designing a menu. Don’t be afraid to ask for something different that’s not on their menu.

The Décor
“Keep it simple stupid” is a rule to live by. Simple is classy. There are so many hip, festive things you can do for little to no money. Have your planning committee designate an overall theme and try not to stray from it. Get into your personal décor inventory from home: if everyone has black table cloths, start there. I helped plan an event with friends and we were each responsible for designing our own tables of ten from china to centerpieces. Each table ended up with a different holiday theme from a collection of nutcrackers to a vintage collection of oil lamps as centerpieces, and what a great excuse to use grandma’s real silverware and the fine china that collects dust! Traditional florals such as poinsettias or fresh garland (smells good too) with votive candles or twinkle lights are always a classic. Your local farmers markets are a great place to find these seasonal plants.

The Entertainment

The possibilities are endless. This is a great time for your coworkers to bring out their hidden talents. You never know-- you might have an “American Idol” amongst you or a DJ wanna-be. There are also many cool video games out there like Wii or Playstation. Recently I attended a party and the “Dancing with the Stars” Playstation game was a huge hit. The new “Band Hero” might stir up some excitement as well. Of course, the simple elegance of traditional holiday music from an iPod playing softly in the background also works.

“Holiday fun doesn’t have to be a budget breaker,” Holst said. “And of course, if you have some budget available, look into hiring a professional event planner. You might be surprised at how affordable and indispensable they can be. A planner also affords you the luxury of focusing on the fun instead of worrying about the details.”

For more information, contact Holst at EventPros, Inc. at 816-960-3400 or visit the website at or on Facebook.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mark Ragan: Getting Inside a Speaker's Head

As a former politician and speechwriter for a college president, I can affirm that these tips from Ragan PR are right on target. Click here to hear Chuck Toney, Policy Analyst and Speechwriter at the University of Georgia, tells us how he got inside UGA President Michael F. Adams' head and how this helped him write better speeches for Adams. Great stuff. Listen carefully--not only to this video, but the person for whom you are writing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

EventPros Partner Quoted in Kansas City Star, Grand Forks Herald Today

EventPros Partner John Short was quoted in not one, but two major metro newspapers today. The Kansas City Star's Business section sourced him in an article about cool places to hold your office holiday party:

“There are lots of really cool, fun places to have events in Kansas City,” said John Short, a partner at EventPros in Kansas City. “Sometimes it actually can be a little less expensive to go to an off-premises location rather than a hotel. Some locations are able to work with you in ways that hotels can’t.”

There's more from John and some great tips on planning your party in the article. Click here to read more.

Not satisfied to be in just one major publication, John's Op/Ed in the Grand Forks, ND Herald was also published today. If he gets published one more time, he's scored the hat trick. Wait a second, he's made Bernays Sauce, that counts for something, doesn't it? (He says yes.)

Check out an excerpt of John's Op/Ed here:
The Central Association of Physical Plant Administrators held their annual conference at the Alerus Center and Canad Inns in September. About 250 people attended the roughly four-day-long event.

We wanted to take a minute to praise Grand Forks and a few of the incredible people who represent it.

We could easily write volumes about the level of service we received from each of these groups, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll just mention their names along with a sincere thank you for the tremendous reception we received.

Read the entire piece here.

Congrats John, on preaching the gospel of good events!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

KC's Kramer Wins NOW Award

Woo hoo! Your humble editor digs Ms. Kramer's Twitter teachings and also enjoys her wry wit. Congrats Shelly--we'll buy your next martini.

From the press release:

Shelly DeMotte Kramer, co-founder of Kansas City-based V3 Integrated Marketing, was recently honored at the 140 Character Conference in Los Angeles as a winner of the NOW Award.

The conference was conceived and created by Jeff Pulver, one of the pioneers of the VoIP industry and a leader in the emerging TV on the Net industry. Pulver is a globally renowned thought leader, author and entrepreneur. He is the publisher of The Pulver Report and and creator of the industry standard Voice on the Net and is the co-founder of VoIP provider, Vonage.

Pulver’s purpose in creating the 140 Character Conference was to bring together people with many diverse backgrounds and levels of expertise, all of whom were actively engaged with and utilizing the microblogging platform of Twitter. The focus of the event was the State of NOW, and the impact of the real time Internet on business and industries. The 140 Conference events, which are held globally, are an opportunity for people who are passionate about Twitter as a platform as a language we speak today to get together and share community, exchange thoughts and together map out a future, exploring the effects of living in the real time Internet.