In defense of special events planners

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Meetings planners tend to get really ticked when people call them "party planners." It seems demeaning, somehow. So just imagine how special events planners--those who actually do plan the parties--feel when even their meetings bretheren don't recognize the value of what they do.

Lisa Hurley, editor of our sister magazine, Special Events, wrote a great editorial on just this topic. A snip:

...in the clamber for a seat at the corporate table, too often it seems that the

meetings pros are positioned as the ones doing the serious business, while event

planners are pushed into the kitchen to put paper-frill panties on the lamb

chops.

But this line of thinking is entirely wrong.

As any good marketing or PR person will tell you, people like to think that

they behave rationally, that they make hardheaded decisions based on the facts.

But they don't. The truth is, the best way to change behavior — to make people

believe in and commit to a brand or a company or an idea — is to touch them

emotionally. In April, National Public Radio ran a fascinating story describing

the work of 20th century PR mastermind Edward Bernays, who sold consumers

everything from soap to cigarettes using theories about the power of the

subconscious developed by his famous uncle, Sigmund Freud.

This is where special events have their special clout. Virtually all special

events have some message to convey, from the launch of a new product to the

commemoration of a significant life event. But giving that message impact is the

arsenal of tools — decor, music, food — that event professionals bring to bear.

These are all hooks that grab emotion.

Meeting planners may not like to admit it, but there is much they can learn from their special event colleagues in terms of making that emotional, as well as intellectual, impact.

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