Tuesday Tip: Be Prepared for Your Next Event by Utilizing After Action Reviews – by Chris Zaccaro

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is the noblest, Second: by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius

As you can imagine, planning and managing media events for our clients is big part of the gig here at Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations, Inc. We do it pretty well thanks to two factors: experience and preparation.

With over thirty years of existence as a public relations firm, experience obviously plays a huge part in our success. We’ve seen it all. But the true root of our success comes from our preparation. As Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”

Whether the event you managed was a success or total bomb, the job shouldn’t end when you pack up the car. A post-project assessment, an After Action Review to be specific, will always help you with your preparation for the next event—or really any other kind of project.

An After Action Review is a simple method where you get your team together for an honest and open discussion to review and document:
• What went well
• What went wrong
• What you can do in the future to repeat what went well
• What you can do in the future to prevent the same mistakes from happening again

There are a couple of different ways you can document your After Action Review—a simple Google search will provide you options and templates. But know that documenting and storing this process is imperative and it needs to be done within a week of your event. Or else you and your teammates may possibly forget what could be valuable insights for your next project.

What I have found is that this process really helps with remembering the little things that can make a big difference. Such as:

• Remembering to have a water for each speaker at the podium before a media event begins. You don’t want to realize too late and become a distraction as you bring them up while your event is in progress. Or even worse, as your client is desperately searching for a drink during a coughing fit.

• Remembering to take note of where an event is happening and what the conditions may be. If you’re hosting an event outside on a really hot day, you may want to look into remedies for cooling your audience off—like electric fans, a tent or cold refreshments.

• Or remembering to have a solid understanding of how many people will be attending your event so you don’t put out too few or even too many chairs. There’s nothing worse than having a good turnout look like a bad turnout because you put out too many chairs.

Those are just three small instances of many, many instances that could impact your event. Our preparation has helped us in preventing small mistakes like these from happening at our clients’ events and After Action Reviews can help you too.

Of course, you could always just contact Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations and let us handle your event for you. We are prepared for that.

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