Over the past three months, I’ve the pleasure of seeing two major projects through to fruition. The first was the GIO Budgie Bolt, a 5k marathon, supporting Youngcare that raised awareness for 7,500 young Australians living in age-care homes. The second and largest of our recent events, was luxury boutique Reebonz’s new George Street store launch – A red carpet affair hosting 150 media VIPs, fashionistas and celebrities.
Working on these projects simultaneously was a great opportunity for me to engage with the variation of clients we handle and become acquainted with the rollercoaster timeline of events management. Engaging with both non-profit promotion and high-end retail was a lesson in the marketing psychology behind “buy” vs. “give”.
The day of the Budgie Bolt, I rose at 4AM. Scanning the horizon, I could barely distinguish the silhouettes of our first few racers, stretching and yawning ungracefully in the milky half-light. My job was to rove through the crowd, snapping photographs for our Facebook page, answering questions and making sure our runners were set to take off. The haze of kinetic energy was seeping into my bones and filling me with anticipation.
When the race finished, we escorted 10 of the racers and Youngcare Co-founder Nick Bonifant to Channel 9 News to re-create the race for the morning broadcast, an experience that taught me a lot about the entertainment industry and the PR behind it. Like nothing I had seen before, I found the clean, energetic efficiency of the station seductive, both in theory and in practice.
Reebonz, as a luxury retail store, had us exhausting a whole bag of tricks beyond the Budgie Bolt buzz. For one thing, the audiences we targeted respectively were as different as night and day. A good PR pro, as I learned, needs to understand its audience better than they understand themselves.
During the whirlwind weeks leading to the launch, I spent a great deal of time researching sponsorship opportunities, pulling together quotes for equipment hire and organising event services. As the date drew closer, we all pulled long hours making sure that everything was sharp and tidy down to the very last “reebon”. Attention to detail and fashion consciousness were power-players in our strategy, contrary to our light-hearted humanitarian approach to the Bolt.
When the 16th of April finally arrived, I was burning with anticipation. Like a honeybee in a hive, I launched into action setting up gift-bags and organising the storeroom. Everything had to be perfect and with the senior members of our team occupied by the client’s pressing needs, it was up to me to see that nothing slipped through the cracks.
Slowly things came together and when the first guests began to arrive, I was at the door polished and ready to greet them. Our fashion parade and glamorous guests attracted a tireless crowd of spectators, so I guarded the store’s main entrance with vigilant poise. Answering the quick-draw questions of chirpy invitees and ducking sloshing champagne flutes, the ceremony began.
The night passed with the easy continuity of a riverboat cruise, guests bobbing from one display to the next and absorbing the cheery glow of upmarket retail. Holly Golightly said it best in Breakfast at Tiffany’s when she described the serenity inspired by extravagance; “the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.”
Reflecting over the subsequent weeks, I find that working with such a dedicated, positive group of people has been by far the most inspiring aspect of my experience. Sydney’s senior pros Stephanie Maguire and Mira Palomaki deal with a tempest of stress like a walk in the park and are teaching me the art of diplomacy in crisis. Every day with Blue By Red is an adventure and I am using the colours of my quest to paint by PR.