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My First Gig as a Project Manager

What I learned from taking on a new role at Cliffedge Marketing to help manage 4 unique events for PNC Bank. 

Back in early April, as St. Louis transitioned from experiencing an uncharacteristically cold spring back into the familiar, frizzy-hair-inducing humidity we all know and love, I myself adopted a new role in addition to managing digital content: project manager.

The next two months were a whirlwind of site visits, conference calls and behind-the-scenes logistics as I learned what it takes to navigate the world of events, PNC-style.

If you’re looking to read the bite-sized recap, I’ll summarize: it was a blast.

But if you’re hungry for the main course, I’m ready to dish.

It started with an initial meeting with the PNC Senior Vice President and Director of Client and Community Relations from the Office of the Regional President. That meeting ended two hours and eight pages of notes later, and I was ready to jump right in.

Our company was tasked to provide support, management and execution for the following PNC events throughout the month of May:

Arts Alive Announcement on Wednesday, May 9, 2018

PNC Arts Alive Announcement

Every year, PNC awards multiple St. Louis arts organizations with generous grants to assist them in their community-focused art programs. This year, the event was held in Midtown at the .Zack Urban Ballroom, an extension of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation.

After guests arrived and checked in, they enjoyed a breakfast catered by the David Kirkland Catering Company, a short networking session and the official announcement of this year’s grant recipients, like the Saint Louis Fashion Fund, Laumeier Sculpture Park and several others.

In the weeks leading up to the event, my role included confirming and coordinating on setup with the venue, florist, performers, photographer and A/V. In addition, we created the registration materials and visual presentation for the announcement.

Coordinating on the day of this event in particular was like conducting a symphony. There are individual key players, but together they helped create a sweet harmony. And without a strong team supporting me, (shout-out to Colin on A/V, and Ryan and Sherri on registration!) it would have been more like a sonic circus.

With one major event under my belt, I was only just getting started.

Women Connect Luncheon on Tuesday, May 22, 2018

PNC Women Connect Luncheon

The Women Connect Luncheon at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac Hotel was an inaugural event co-hosted by PNC and RubinBrown. After close to 100 guests ate their beautifully plated three-course meal, their attention was captivated by a three-panel discussion called, “Let’s Talk #TimesUp.” The panel lasted close to 90 minutes and provided in-depth insight into the #TimesUp movement from HR, Legal and PR perspectives.

For this project, I was tasked with creating the guest invitations, speaker bio sheets and visual presentation for the networking portion of the lunch. We ran the registration table and coordinated on-site with their in-house A/V crew.

The panel discussion was engaging and every bit a success. RubinBrown set up an online link for guests to submit questions and the speakers had honest, thoughtful feedback, which was appreciated considering the weight of the topic.

And as soon as we packed up from the luncheon, we prepped for dinner the next day.

Market All-Stars on Wednesday, May 23, 2018

PNC Market All-Stars

Market All-Stars is a dinner and awards ceremony covering the St. Louis region to honor the PNC top team members based on their performance and contributions to the overall market in 2017.

This year, the event took place at the restaurant Panorama in the Saint Louis Art Museum. Guests were even given the opportunity to tour the newest exhibit, Sunken Cities, upon their arrival in the space.

Leading up to the event, we prepped the materials, coordinated on logistics with the catering team and staged the space for the awards presentation. Did I mention that dinner was downright delicious?

NXT@4240 with Venture Café on Thursday, May 24, 2018

PNC Knowledge Center at Venture Cafe

For their Venture Café sponsorship, PNC activated the “PNC Knowledge Center” at the May finale event, known as NXT@4240, which operated under the theme, “Amplifying Women in Business and Technology.”

If you’re not familiar with Venture Café, let me break it down.

Venture Café is a weekly gathering at 4240 Duncan in the Cortex Innovation Community with workshops and networking geared at connecting entrepreneurs, startups and business owners in St. Louis.

NXT@4240 is Venture Café’s monthly finale event. The first floor is opened to feature sponsored activation areas, music, and free food and beverages. The second floor, as usual, is dedicated to educational workshops, sponsored “office hours” and networking.

Venture Cafe 4240 Duncan

Planning and executing NXT@4240 was arguably the most extensive event for all of May. Our team collaborated with PNC to brainstorm and create the activation area activities and develop the layout.

Within the PNC Knowledge Center, we dedicated the entire space to “knowledge sharing.” Various PNC Business Banking Center Managers (BBCMs) networked with guests in the following areas:

  1. The Knowledge Bar featured influential female leaders in the tech industry who interacted with attendees, shared their stories and offered advice. Guests could then enter for a chance to win St. Louis Cardinals tickets in the PNC suite to “Continue the Conversation.”
  2. The Knowledge Wall displayed images on interactive TV screens using unique event hashtags pulled from various social media platforms.
  3. Finally, the #sitwithmestl photo booth gave attendees the opportunity to take a seat in the iconic red chair to stand up for women in tech.

Pre-event, we arranged the photo booth and PNC Knowledge Center materials, created a social media schedule and visual presentation for the speakers, monitored A/V on-site, and assisted the PNC BBCMs.

If you hadn’t been keeping track, the last three events were back to back…to back. I became a champion of caffeine and learned how to assemble banner stands in less than 30 seconds. Please hold your applause.

Takeaways

Although it’s not my first rodeo when it comes to event planning, I still consider this incredible opportunity one where I could continue learning the language of events as an official project manager. And I have a new appreciation for the events world overall!

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways, which also doubles as advice to my future self:

  1. Drink more coffee. That 9-5 grind? Not anymore; we’re talking 12 hour days.
  2. Check on your people. Did the photographer eat yet? Grab him a plate of steak and potatoes from the catering crew.
  3. Bring extra nametags. This one’s for the I-just-RSVP’d-this-morning folks.
  4. Take photos of everything. Document each event as if it’s as important as the birth of your first child. Your recap will thank you.
  5. Keep a quality playlist handy. Oh, we need background music? I’m looking at you, Spotify Rooftop Cocktail-Party Playlist.
  6. Trust your team. If you ask for help, they won’t hesitate.
     

Interested in collaborating with us on your next event? Reach out and let’s do this.

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