Dan Young, CMP, LLIF, director of event planning and field recognition at Minneapolis, Minn.-based Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, is no novice when it comes to advancing the profession. When the meeting-planning department at Thrivent was built from scratch in 2002, his intention was to have the team perceived not as party planners, but as strategic event-planning consultants.
Young achieved his objective in part by developing a microsite — a page on Thrivent's corporate Web site with its own URL that promotes his department. “We use our Web site as an information and marketing tool to build our department's internal brand and communicate our services,” he says.
The department's microsite includes profiles and contact information for all seven planners on the team, making it easy for event sponsors to get in touch with the right person. A “What We Do” section provides step-by-step instructions on how to work with the planning department. “It basically gives a mini-education on who we are and what we do,” says Thrivent's lead event resource planner Emily Perron, who administers the site.
A “Frequently Asked Questions” page is a must-have, she advises. It should include answers to such questions as: What are the benefits of using our department? What resources are available to plan my meeting? How does the budget process work?
Perron also recommends including an awards section to showcase the different industry honors the team has won and help promote the achievements of specific individuals. It is critical, she says, to update the site regularly to show the team's current accomplishments.
Young also uses other internal communications such as news releases and PowerPoint slide presentations to explain and promote the department's role — particularly important for those who may not be aware of what the planners do. With all of these communication tools in place, Thrivent's top execs now view the event-planning team “as an internal consulting group that helps customers achieve the best value and return on meeting investment,” he says.
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