Top five lessons from planning a university wide event

Regular readers of the All Things IC blog know I love encouraging fellow PR professionals to come and share their stories.

Today I’m delighted to introduce you to PR student Bethany Gough, who is currently studying at a university here in the UK. You can find her on Twitter @BethanyGoughPR.

If you are planning in-person events in your organisation this year, you’ll find this a useful read.

I’ll hand you over…

Top five lessons from planning a university wide event. Bethany Gough.

The top five lessons I learnt planning a university wide event

Hello, my name is Bethany Gough, I am a final year student at Solent University studying Public Relations and Communications Management and set to graduate in May.

Rachel kindly reached out to me via Twitter and offered me a guest blog spot here! I have never done something like this before, but as someone who is eager to learn I jumped at the opportunity.

Late last year myself and my course mate Lily Harrison (@LilyHarrisonPR on Twitter) were approached by a senior lecturer at Solent and asked if we would like to organise a university wide event called Spring Forward to the Future.

The event’s purpose is to bridge the gap between students and employers in a relaxed environment.

It included a guest speaker panel of Student Alumni, followed by a networking session.

Having never organised an event before, it was a huge learning curve for the both of us and I wanted to share the top five things I learnt throughout the process.

Spring forward to the future event

1. The importance of clear communication

This one probably won’t come as a shock to anyone, but I really found out the true value of clear communication whilst planning this event. There were about 6 people involved in the planning of this event, and often communications were confused for a variety of reasons. For me, confusion mostly stemmed from not being aware of how to best use the technology we had. As a student, I had never been told things so simple as how to create a mailing list as I have never had to do it! By the end of the planning process, I realised that if I was completely honest and vulnerable to the things, I didn’t understand I could gain the help I needed.

2. The importance of organisation

Another one which sounds simple but is true. Juggling the organisation of this event with university work as well as a freelance PR project was tough. It’s a good job I enjoy PR as there were days that I ended up working 7-day weeks to stay on top of my university work. For me, a daily to do list with everything I need to get done in the day kept me motivated and on top of all my tasks.

3. People are willing to help

One thing I love about the communications industry is that people are so willing to help. We needed help from students on the day and were so happy when three students in our class and five students we had never met volunteered their morning to come and help us deliver a great event.

Their feedback let us know that they gained a lot out of the event, which is great to know. If you are a student, I would say yes to every opportunity that comes your way and truly make the most of it.

4. The power of social media

Social media is a powerful tool. We know this as it has connected the world together. To promote this event, we used a campaign which lived on social media. To target students, we primarily used Instagram, but also used Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

We didn’t have the passwords to any social media channels, but through emails we were able to get content scheduled across a variety of accounts related to Solent University. We were nervous on the day as we had no indication as to how many students would be attending, but we smashed all targets and had over 200 students attended on the day.

Spring forward to the future event. Photo of students sitting in a large circle of chairs.

5. I am capable

The main lesson I learnt in this process was that I am capable. On the day, myself and Lily managed a team of 10 students, supported 30 employers and ran social media channels. As a pair, we were approached by a few separate individuals who were curious as to if we could help them out with PR.

By being approached by real clients who want our help, we were shocked at the fact that we are capable and ready for the world of work. We both said when we walked away from the event that we surprised ourselves.

Overall, just say yes. Put yourself out there. Even if you aren’t confident at the start of the process, you will gain so much by the end.

More importantly, find someone else who you can go through the process with. In my experience, myself and Lily really leaned on each other through this process and since, have started some freelance PR projects together.

Thank you for reading my blog, I hope you enjoyed hearing the lessons I learnt. If you see more of me, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter: @BethanyGoughPR. I also have a website, which you can get to by following this link, and includes my own personal blog:

Post author: Bethany Gough.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Bethany and congratulations to you and Lily. Best of luck with the rest of your studies.

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Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 21 February 2022.

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