Bringing the province’s trail network together

As the contract manager for the Saskatchewan Trails Association (STA), this time of year is particularly busy for us.

Recently, we published the 2017 STA Annual Report. This document reflects on the year that was and provides a look at future initiatives.

It was a busy year for the STA. We increased the level of funding through our Members Grant program, created a new on-line trail directory so trail enthusiasts could research trails in their area, introduced a new Trail Ambassador program to recognize people who have shared their trail experiences and we created our first-ever trail photo contest. The STA provided educational sessions for members and the general public on trail insurance and openstreet mapping.

2017 STA Annual Report

We have also been hard at working planning the 2018 STA AGM, which is scheduled for Saturday, March 24, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the George Bothwell Library in the Southland Mall in Regina (2965 Gordon Rd).

Saskatchewan has thousands of kilometres of trails that are used for snowmobiling, ATV’ing, hiking, cross-country skiing, cycling, backpacking, walking and paddling. The STA AGM is truly the ultimate networking event for the province’s recreational community who enjoys, builds and maintains this trail network. We work diligently to ensure it’s a can’t-miss event.

We’re involved in all aspects of the planning process, including booking a venue, reaching out to key stakeholders about attending, booking presenters, creating the agenda, developing speaking notes and informing the public about the event through the creation of promotional materials. Below, check out the flyer we created for the event (click on the image to open the file).

Helping honour the province’s long-serving employees

Saskatchewan is known for its dedicated public service workers and we were happy to work with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to organize yesterday’s Long Service Recognition Program at the Conexus Arts Centre to honour 25- and 35-year employees.

To effectively pull off this event, it required a lot of preparation. Leading up to the event, one of our main duties was to contact and follow up with the honourees and special guests to make sure they had all the information about the event and confirm if they planned to attend. Using this information, we created name tags and organized the materials the honourees would receive at the event. All the while, we coordinated details with the PSC, printers, florists, venue staff, caterers.

During the event itself, we arrived early in the morning to begin setting up the registration, dignitary, stage and banquet areas. We helped coordinate a number of volunteers that showed up. As honourees and guests arrived and moved from one area to the next, we helped direct traffic and answered any questions they had.

The event ran very smoothly. It was inspiring to see how proud the long-serving employees were to get up on stage and receive their pin.

How to plan the perfect corporate event

If you’re unfamiliar with corporate event planning, you may think it’s a similar process to planning a party: get a great venue, book top-notch entertainment and ensure there is plenty of food.

Although some of these points certainly hold true for corporate events, the planning process itself is much more intricate. Whether it’s an annual general meeting, fundraising gala or advocacy event, this is your organization’s opportunity to deliver a key message to a large audience. While you’ll likely want your guests to relax and have a great time, you’ll want to make sure your key message resonates with them once they walk out the door.

Here are some tips to make sure that happens:

Start planning early: “The early bird gets the worm” certainly applies to corporate event planning. Venues, for example, can book up months or even a year in advance for certain dates. Starting the process early can give you plenty of time to adjust your plan if Plan A falls through. Starting early will give you plenty of opportunity to hold committee meetings and nail down all the details of your events, including what message you’re hoping to deliver and what elements are crucial to deliver this message.

Make an action plan: During the rush of planning a corporate event, it’s possible to miss deadlines or forget certain responsibilities. This is why it’s so helpful to put a plan down on paper that includes a list of tasks that need to be completed, the date they need to be completed by, and who is responsible for the task. While you may have to diverge from the plan a little bit due to unforeseen circumstances, creating a plan will at least ensure everyone knows their roles and can be held accountable.

Consider multiple options: Corporate event planning is certainly not case of one size fits all. You may have your eyes on the hottest venue or caterer in town, but you have to determine what fits with your budget and needs. When it comes to the room, for example, you have to make sure you select a venue that not only provides adequate space, but is suited for your type of event. You’ll want to select a different room for a music recital than you would for a quiet business meeting.

To consider multiple options, you have to seek out multiple options. Talk to a variety of businesses and obtain quotes. Make it clear what you’re looking for and they will tell you what they have to offer. These companies usually will go out of their way to get your business and will offer competitive pricing if they know you are considering other options. When it comes to the venue, you should never book one until doing a walkthrough to make sure it will satisfy the needs of your event.

Be creative: There are great opportunities to think outside the box when planning a corporate event. Granted, for more formal business meetings or conferences you may want to keep things more formal, but embrace the chance to be creative whenever you can.

If you organize an annual Christmas party, for example, try to shake up the entertainment each year. No one likes to see the same show year after year. Seek input from the guests and research what some of the entertaining acts are out there. For advocacy events, try to distinguish yourselves from groups who simply state their problem and ask patrons for money. Instead, create an interactive activity that showcases why you group is in desperate need of funds.

Hold pre- and post-event walkthroughs: On the day of the event, you don’t want there to be an unpleasant surprises. Do a final venue walkthrough to make sure everything is in place. Have a final meeting leading up to the event to make sure everyone is on the same page. If you are running an interactive activity during your event, it would be a great idea to do a mock run-through, even if you don’t have access to the venue itself.

The post-event walkthrough is all about reflecting and looking to the future. While you can’t go back in time and fix mistakes that occurred during the event, you can make notes of those areas and make suggestions as to how to avoid them in the future. If you learn from your mistakes, your future events will run much smoother.

Benchmark Public Relations has a long history of helping companies host outstanding corporate events.

From 2011-2013 and again in 2017, we are serving as the event manager of the Public Service Commission’s 2017 Long Service Awards. The awards honour public service employees with 25 and 35 years of experience. Serving as event manager has involved reviewing the location and gift suppliers, maintaining a detailed inventory list and replenishing when necessary, procuring all service providers and goods, and creating a list of eligible honourees, among numerous other tasks.

For seven of the past eight years, we have managed the Saskatchewan Music Conference. The conference, alternating between Regina and Saskatoon, features more than 20 workshops, luncheon concert, tradeshow, receptions and an evening awards banquet. At times, there have been five provincial music organizations involved so it’s an extensive process each year to create an event that satisfies the needs of all the clients. This year’s event takes place on Oct. 27 and 28 in Regina.

Helping promote ATV safety

We’re proud to help organize the Saskatchewan All Terrain Vehicle Association’s (SATVA) safety campaign this summer.

SATVA has received funding from the Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council to reduce the number of injuries in Saskatchewan from ATVs by raising safety issues within the community’s target audiences. SATVA is asking ATVers to Ride Safe. Ride Smart and follow important safety practices like wearing a helmet and avoiding dangerous driving.

We created a poster that has been distributed to motor sports shops and provincial associations like the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association.

To kick off ATV Safety Week, we helped SATVA put together a media event outside Regina. The media had the chance to try and ATV and learn more about operating the vehicle safely. There was some great press coverage generated:

CTV Regina: https://t.co/naA6J1SvKP

Regina Leader-Post: http://bit.ly/2rM3agh

Global Regina: http://bit.ly/2rLZQ4L

CBC Saskatchewan: http://bit.ly/2rtJ5uH

During ATV Safety Week, and throughout the summer, we will also be creating sponsored social media posts for SATVA and distributing themed safety articles for publication in Saskatchewan.

We’re happy to be working on a campaign that promotes ATV safety and will result in fewer accidents on the roadways.

Helping organize the World Partnership Walk was an eye-opening experience

By Pat Rediger

For the past number of months, together with my team at Benchmark Public Relations, I have had the great privilege of working with volunteers from Saskatchewan’s Muslim community to help organize the World Partnership Walk – Canada’s largest public movement to fight global poverty. This is an initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation that supports programs that help million of people in Africa and Asia.

There are many reasons why I was happy to play a role in this event. Probably the biggest reason is that it allowed me the opportunity to work with a community that was new to me. It’s no secret that our province’s demographics are changing. Just take your children or grandchildren to a playground in Harbour Landing where we hear dozens of different languages being spoken and children from numerous cultures and ethnicities are playing together.

I was happy to be involved with this project because I believe meeting new people and learning about other cultures is fun and personally fulfilling. But as an entrepreneur, I also know a business case can be made for increasing cultural understanding and broadening your circles of friends and acquaintances to include New Canadians. Over the years I’ve learned that the best way to grow a business is by working on personal relationships. Getting to know people. Face-to-face. One customer. One referral at a time.

We got great support from the Muslim community for this annual event. Our goal for the future is to create greater linkages with the broader community. Creating connections to communities that don’t know each other very well can be difficult. It requires time, a commitment to open communications and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. If you want to meet people who care passionately about creating a better world for our future generations, consider getting involved in this great event next year, as a sponsor or walk participant.

People in Saskatchewan have helped raise more than $70,000 already for the World Partnership Walk. If you would like to make a donation you can do so until the end of June at worldpartnershipwalk.com. If you’d like to talk to me about getting involved as a sponsor and marketing your products and services to this growing community through this event, contact me at prediger@benchmarkpr.ca