Event planning in your local area can be a daunting and time-consuming task. Having to coordinate events in other cities presents a whole new set of challenges. That's why we wanted to share our experience with you and hopefully save you some time and headaches.
In February of this year, Iconico was hired to work on the Voto Chilango campaign, which came out of the Instituto Electoral de la Ciudad de México (Mexico City’s Electoral Institute). The purpose of the campaign was to raise awareness amongst people from Mexico City and Mexico in general about the opportunity to participate in the country’s elections from abroad. The campaign had different phases:
According to the Migration Policy Institute, in 2014, there were close to 12 million people from Mexico living in the U.S. The participation of at least a fraction of them in Mexico’s elections would surely sway the results.
As a part of our campaign efforts, we were tasked with organizing events in three different cities to promote voter registration. We chose Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Anyone who has ever planned events knows that three events in one month is no easy task, especially when those events have to be held in different cities. However, it can be done with a bit of creativity and help from the people you know. Here is what we learned:
Going Where People Are
The first event we organized was in Phoenix. We called it Chilango Brunch and we partnered with a local restaurant that serves food from Mexico City (including a Torta de El Chavo) to host it. If we were looking for Chilangos, what better place to find them than a Chilango restaurant? Aside from leveraging the restaurant’s clientele, we also invited people to come learn how to register to vote in Mexico’s July 1 elections and if they had trouble registering, we offered help onsite.
We blew up an image of a Credencial de Elector, Mexico’s voter I.D., and had every person present take a picture with their face in it. We poked fun at the men taking pictures because the blown up card had the name “Margarita” on it. We even used the hashtag #TodosSomosMargarita (we are all Margarita).
Tap into existing events
The second event was in Vegas. We got very lucky because there was an event already being organized that could let us have an information booth. Of course finding that out took a lot of communicating with the local community and figuring out collectively what we could do. We contacted friends we knew in Planned Parenthood and they in turn put us in touch with Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLANevada) who were willing to help organize the event themselves to help this important cause. In the end we found out about the Cesar Chavez Celebration and decided to participate in that.
Event number three took place in Oxnard, California. Our original plan was to have it in Los Angeles but we found a friend who worked for a union in Oxnard and could could help us host it. He had connections with the community of Mixtecos in the city and that was very attractive to us. So we headed to Oxnard, bought some coffee and Pan Dulce and had the event at the Downtown Main Library.
Take time to strategize
Even though it might seem like you need to get moving on planning right away because you only have a month, it’s worth it to spend a couple of days strategizing. It’s important to just sit and think, what is the most effective way we can do this? Can we get more creative? What contacts do we have in each place and how can we leverage them? The prep work will go a long way.
Divide up the work and delegate
If there is a team (meaning more than one person), it’s beneficial if one person focuses on everything related to event one, while the other is thinking through events two and three instead of the whole team focusing on one event at a time. This way, by the time event one is done, the strategy for two and three are also done and the execution can begin. It’s much more time-efficient.
Networks are key
The importance of a wide network was once again reiterated to us. We might not have had contacts in each city we chose but we certainly knew people who did and that went a long way. Our network delivered big time during this work, making email introductions, sharing facebook posts, asking around in their community. It was amazing and we don’t speak in hyperbole. We really couldn’t have pulled it off without all the people that mobilized for us.
Ask a woman
If you need something done fast, ask a woman. Vegas was the clearest example of that this time around. We realized we had a girlfriend with contacts in Vegas, she made an introduction who then made another one and we had an event planned in a matter of 5 hours. That was gold.
While not a comprehensive list of everything you need to consider when planning events outside your city, focusing on these areas should help make the task a little easier.