USF students crossing Turk Street from Lomo

Event Planning Check List

Are you planning to invite a guest speaker for a public lecture? Do you have a networking event coming up? Use this list to plan your USF event. It will help you reach out to the right audiences, and help you reach your goals.

Initial Questions

  • What is the goal of this event?
    • What does success look like? 
    • Who determines whether the event was a success?
  • What are your target audiences/who do you want to attend?
  • Is the event free and open to the public? 
  • How does this event represent USF?
  • How is the event being funded?
    • Are there sponsors (on or off campus)?
  • What other university or community events are taking place around that time? Check the USF Calendar to find out.
    • Tip: Some annual events may not be on the calendar yet. Check the USF Calendar for the same month last year to check for major recurring events.
  • Who is the lead on the event?
    • Tip: Assign a single point of contact for all logistical questions during the event to avoid confusion 

Planning and Booking

  • Have you identified your audience?
    • Who will benefit most from this event? Are the potential guests students, alumni, faculty, staff, or external groups? 
  • Do you have the speakers reserved?
    • Tip: Have you confirmed if that guest speaker has been invited on campus recently, or to conflicting events?
  • What is the title of the event?
    • Tip: If possible, use an intriguing title for the event already when you book the room. The event title of the booking shows up in the USF Calendar. If you book far in advance, make sure to go back to the booking and edit your title when it's finalized.  
  • Do you have the room reserved?
    • Tip: Book the room for the actual event time, but add the prep time in the notes to event management.
  • Do you need to arrange for food?
  • Do you need microphones, media banners, stages, etc?
  • Do you need the event to be recorded?
  • Do you need to reserve parking?
  • Have you confirmed that the event will be visible on the USF calendar? 
  • Do you have a script for how the event should run?
  • Plan the promotion: How do you best describe the event to your audience?
    • Find a photo or image that illustrates the event to the target audience
    • Write the event description: Who is this event for, and why should they come?
    • Draft event description versions for USF calendar, external calendars, poster, direct mail, web page, social media, email marketing (as needed). 

Promotion

  • Have you added a description of the event to the calendar item on the USF calendar?
    • Calendar managers can add descriptions directly or send requests to event organizers to add the description.
    • Note: Did you remember to change to an intriguing event title in the event booking system?
  • Have you contacted OCM or Graphics Center regarding promotional materials (ads, emails, posters, postcards, reg forms, swag)?
  • For high-level events and conferences: Do you have a USF webpage about the event, including all the critical information?
  • Do you have a list of people or groups you are trying to reach? Do you have an email or address list built?
    • Note: There is a central database with lists of faculty and staff, students, and alumni, which can be used to retrieve the right lists for your event. Your own external lists can also be added to any communication. 
    • Alumni/donor lists can be requested from uareports@usfca.edu. Estimate 2-3 weeks for preparation of the report. 
    • Tip: Invite at least 2-3x your ideal number of guests. Response rates can be 1/3 or lower. 
  • Are you sending mailed invitations?
  • Are you posting the event to social media?
    • Tip: Coordinate the first social media posting with the first email outreach, and include links to your social media posts in the email when it goes out to make it easy for recipients to share your event with their networks. 
    • Tip: Always include #USFCA in your posts to make sure they get noticed by the USF community.
  • Are you sending email invitations?
    • Note: Emails should go out 4 weeks before event. Estimate four to five business days for the preparation of a requested email. As an email admin, if you prepare the email yourself, the turnaround time is one to two business days.
    • Do you need an online registration form? Request the form from OCM. Estimated turnaround time is seven to eight business days.
  • Do you have time to add the event item to the E-Communications Alumni, Parent, Students, or Faculty + Staff monthly e-newsletter? 
    • Note: The call for submission is sent mid month by the Office of E-Communications (ecommunications@usfca.edu) for the next months email.
    • Note: For student-focused or public events, the weekly Phoenix e-newsletter may include your event. Submit your request here.
  • Do you want to alert or invite media? Would you like to add this to event calendars in local publications? Contact OCM Media Relations four weeks before the event, or as soon as possible, to get help reaching the right contacts.
    • Note: You need to be able to define what makes the event unique and worthy of media coverage.
    • If you are inviting external groups or media – ask yourself how is this event significant to San Francisco, California, etc.
  • When the poster is designed: Have you sent the digital poster file to web services to post on the digital signage boards on campus? 
    • Tip: Allow at least two weeks lead time before the ad should begin being displayed.
  • Have you posted the event to relevant external calendars (newspapers, clubs, blogs)?
  • Could your event be relevant to student media? Contact the Foghorn and USFtv to find out.
  • Have you submitted the event to Web Services to consider featuring on the USFCA.EDU homepage?
    • Tip: 2-3 weeks before the event is a good time to reach out
  • Are you posting the event to social media?
    • Tip: especially for events for students, faculty, or staff happening on campus, make sure to post about the event the day before or the morning of the event.
    • Tip: Always include #USFCA in your posts to make sure that they get noticed by the USF community.
    • Tip: Use the social media directory to identify other USF venues that you can share your content with to reach a larger audience.
  • If you collect responses through a registration form: Are you sending an email reminder to those who signed up?

Management - Before, During and After the Event

  • Is there signage directing attendees on campus to the room or parking lots?
  • Request that all linen be clean and ironed
  • Ask for to-go containers in case of leftovers
  • Assign or understand who is responsible for cleanup
  • Follow-up with all guest speakers 1 week to 3 days prior to the event to confirm the location, time, and address any outstanding questions
  • Do you have water bottles for all guest speakers? 
  • Do you have speakers gifts prepared?
    • Note: This is not necessary but often a nice gesture for someone’s time.
Good luck with your event!