The Key Steps To Setting Up A White House Event
This is a guest post by Endre Rex-Kiss. He is an event production specialist and online marketing manager for companies in the event business. He represents Ellen Michaels Presents, a Los Angeles based event management company.
Any successful event management company knows that the key to a successful event is careful planning and precise coordination. While Julius talked earlier about how Apple uses innovative features within their conference planning to stand out from the rest of the pack, White House events are a perfect example of what great coordination and diligent planning can accomplish.
In managing intense security, frenzied reporters, and large crowds, White House events are a perfect showcase of how well-planned choreography can turn a complex logistical nightmare into a smooth, successful affair.
What Goes Into Setting Up A White House Event?
Whenever there is a major White House event, planning will start months before the actual event. Careful planning ensures that all the different elements that are necessary for a White House event can be carefully coordinated.
First, one of the President’s policy teams will generate an idea, which will go to a senior staff meeting for approval. Here, the general location of the event as well as the rough formatting will be determined. Once there is a rough conception of what the event will entail, a pre-advance team will usually be sent out months in advance to take care of logistical issues.
This early planning allows staff to make changes to their plans if they encounter an obstacle. The pre-advance team will include members of the White House Staff, the secret service charged with protecting the President of the United States, as well as the White House Military Office.
The team’s initial trip will be focused on securing a location, examining security options and details, and also potentially meeting with local event planners to work out details. After the initial pre-advance trip, the advance office will form advance teams for the event.
As the advance teams are hammering out the logistics of the event, policy makers will be busy determining and ironing out the policy initiatives of the event. These details will also have to be passed onto speechwriters responsible for drafting the speeches at the event. The White House press office will be busy figuring out the proper timing for announcing the event as well as figuring out the level of press coverage required.
As the event draws near, approximately 7-10 days prior to the event, the advance team will setup at the location of the event to prepare. The team will be led by a staff lead responsible for coordinating the operation. There will also be a press lead who will handle everything press-related and coordinate with the necessary departments.
A production staffer will coordinate with vendors as well as the press office in order to setup the venue with any needed staging or lighting. The team will also include a travel manager responsible for managing hotel bookings, transportation for the press, food and any other logistical details relating to travel. The U.S. secret service and the White House Military Office will be busy coordinating secure transportation, event security, communications, as well as coordinating with the local police force.
Throughout this process, the on-location advance team and the White House staff in Washington – known as the working group – will be coordinating daily via video conferencing. Together, they’ll run through each step of the event. The Working Group consists of virtually every element of the White House Office, with each representative responsible for a distinct aspect of the event. The advance teams will also have daily meetings – known as countdown meetings – to ensure that all the on-site teams are properly coordinating.
On the day of the event – referred to as “Game Day” by staffers – the President’s aids will give him the schedule and ensure that he is prepared for the day. Once Air Force One touches down, the President will be whisked to all the venues exactly according to schedule. On Game Day, every staffer will also have a copy of the schedule – often referred to as “The Bible” – to ensure full coordination.
Planning & Coordinating Your Own Event
White House event planning is a marvel to behold. The intense planning and coordination ensures that extremely complicated events with hundreds of moving parts can be executed perfectly. Perhaps more incredibly, this is just another day in the life of White House staff.
By systemizing your event into carefully planned chunks and implementing protocols to coordinate inter-person/team communication, your event can be a success as well, no matter how complex.