Corporate Event Planning: 10 Lessons from Political Conventions and Rallies

Political Convention Balloon Drop

During recent political rallies, national conventions for the U.S. Democratic and Republican Conventions and events surrounding the elections in Quebec (Canada), corporate event planners have had an unprecedented opportunity to gain inspiration. I couldn't help thinking about take-aways for corporate events. For starters, here are 10:

  1. Objectives and desired outcomes should be clearly stated.
    Political events never take place just because someone things they are a "nice-to-do." There are always clear objectives. By contrast, it can sometimes be challenge to obtain a clear and concise statement of objectives for corporate events.
     
  2. Core messages are clearly articulated and reinforced.
    At political rallies and conventions, core messages are reinforced verbally and through placards, posters and banners. At many corporate events, messaging is fuzzy. My bias is that corporate events should always incorporate strong messaging.
     
  3. Core values are underscored at every political event and this reinforces core messages.
    Companies can also reinforce corporate values through corporate events.
     
  4. Branding is clear and visible.
    When one walks into the room, there is never any confusion about whether one is attending an event by the Republican or Democratic Party. Corporate events should also incorporate logos, branding and the corporate color palette.
     
  5. In the U.S., there is attention to security.
    In Quebec last week, there was a vivid example of why security is important. It is highly disturbing that a gunman was able to get so close to Pauline Marois, the newly elected Provincial Premier during her victory celebration. Prominent corporate leaders may also benefit from enhanced security at high-profile events.
     
  6. Political leaders don't "wing it," they practice.
    Professional speech writers develop their material. They receive coaching from experts to polish their platform skills. Rehearsal is a bad word in some corporate circles. Instead, a high value is placed on "winging it." To excel in any field, practice is key.
     
  7. Political ConventionThere is a connection with the history of the political parties.
    Former political leaders share lessons learned and lend their support for new initiatives. Rarely are former corporate CEOs and other executives invited back to address employees, clients or shareholders. As a result, there can be a loss of continuity and a tendency to re-invent the wheel or repeat past mistakes.
     
  8. Music is used extensively.
    Can you picture a political rally or convention without music? The Democratic National Convention used music by the Foo Fighters. 3 Doors Down debuted a song at the Republican National Convention and there were performers by BeBe Winans and the the Oak Ridge Boys. Music can be appropriately used in business.

    For example, one of my regular clients ends each day of their retreats with an impromptu jam session and employees bring their instruments. Yesterday, when I ran into Deano Clavet, a singer/actor who is also employed by a Canadian transportation company, it was a reminder that companies can often tap into internal talent. 
     
  9. Political Political Conventionevents are colorful!
    It struck me over the last few weeks just how much color was incorporated into each and every political event.

    Even in Canada where the culture is more low key and less glitzy, there are balloon drops, streamers, and a host of props reinforcing the colors of the political parties.
     
  10. There is an air of excitement
    Presentations are delivered with energy and passion. Audiences are highly engaged. Contrast this with many corporate cultures in which low-key delivery is the order of the day and expressing emotion is treated like the unpardonable sin.

    Business events don't have to be boring. Perhaps this is the most important lesson of all.

For more lessons for staging events, read Lessons for Event Planners from the Equestrian Industry and Olympics Openings: Event Planning Lessons for Blockbuster Events.

Photo Credits: PBS Newshour

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