Planning an Event During a Pandemic

By Melissa

Whether you’re planning for a grand reopening, big event or busy season, we know that Covid-19 has left you with uncertainty. You’re not alone. When we set out to organize Storybook Farm’s 12th Annual Kentucky Derby Day, we planned and prepped for all of the usual mishaps that can come with a large-scale event. We printed pieces early, set up a new software program for handling auction bids and even started talking centerpieces months in advance. We covered every base.

Every base except, apparently, a global pandemic.

Derby Day is Storybook Farm’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Its existence funds everything from veterinary care to farm maintenance to special surprises for the children who visit. While hosting Derby Day on its original date, May 5, was no longer a possibility, canceling the event was never an option.

As dust settles (and gets stirred up again, and settles and gets stirred up again), here’s what we’re doing (and you can too!) to keep the show on the road and the horses fed:

  1. Make a timeline – With uncertainty still in the air, spacing out your to-do list keeps you from having to edit bits and pieces later. Catering, for example, shouldn’t be the first thing to re-plan, even if it is a big part of your event.
  2. Start by planning for all of the “can’t change” items – No matter what you’re prepping for, some things will stay consistent, even if the date and details change. For Derby Day, this includes the need to thank sponsors, organize ticketing and finish the venue (hello, new Papa Bear Horse Center!)
  3. Inform your community – The best thing you can do to reassure your audience is to keep them up to date. For us, that means reaching out to ticket holders and sponsors. Touching base, even if information is limited, allows your supporters to know that their money isn’t going to waste and that you’re on top of the situation.
  4. Affordably edit materials – Did you print items with your event’s date and location included? Sometimes, it’s more affordable to reprint, especially when it comes to light, paper items. Other times – like for large banners or favors – a cover-up sticker will do the trick. Talk to your printer to find the most affordable option.
  5. Practice being flexible – As a group of type-A marketers who thrive through structured agendas, lists and exacts, we feel your pain. A good attitude, solid “Plan B” and strong support system go a long way!

If the idea of re-planning an event and its promotion makes you want to cancel all-together, send us an email. We’re happy to offer advice or even take over your planning duties. In the meantime, we’ll be planning for the most creative Derby Day ever!