Archive for February, 2008

Design boards

Snippet & Ink is a blog providing “daily wedding inspiration” but I think that many of the ideas could be translated to special events in general. I dig these beautiful design boards that Kathryn puts together, complete with mood and color palette.

  I need to learn how to make these – it really is artful the way everything goes together. They remind me of my (very modest by comparison) brand book that I put together last term as for the re-branding of Arm & Hammer (a class assignment; see it on my portfolio page). They both attempt to convey a unique brand, flavor, or identity through the engagement of multiple senses (smells, tastes, colors, etc.), whether it’s a newly-married couple or laundry detergent. A wedding is perhaps one of the most emotional and personal events, but I think that through strategic branding and defined goals to build relationships, even a seemingly blah organization can put on a personal, memorable event. Images courtesy of Snippet & Ink 


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Gorgeous flowers – no wilting!

Immortal Floraluses a time-honored method of preserving flowers by dipping them in beeswax, which essentially preserves them indefinitely. Even better, they beautifully detail them with swarovski crystals, pearls, and other accoutrement to make them truly sparkle. Immortal Floral specializes in bridal bouquets and accessories, but they also sell reusable decorated flowers for culinary art, as seen below. Read more about the process on their Web site; it’s pretty interesting how they create each individual art piece.

Image courtesy of Immortal Floral

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Brr! This PR blanket isn’t working

Using “PR” as a blanket term can be problematic for several reasons. Unfortunately, it seems like people either associate public relations with specific tactics such as press releases or they think of it as a means to attracting publicity (as in “publicity stunts”) and controlling reputation. Worst of all, public relations is sometimes vilified as “spinning” the news in order to protect client interests. 

Many leading thinkers in public relations research, however, define PR as “the management function that identifies, establishes, and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the various publics on whom its success or failure depends” (Cutlip, Center, and Broom. Effective Public Relations. 1985). In other words, public relations is about managing relationships, not spitting out generic press releases or creatively explaining why a certain starlet was photographed sans undies.

With this definition of PR, it is easy to see how activities like fund-raising, maintaining a blog, hosting events, or publishing podcasts can all fit under the public relations blanket. Matthew Stibbe, editor in chief of Articulate Marketing, however, does not follow this definition of PR in his recent post “27 Proven Freelance Marketing Tips”on his blog, Bad Language. I was checking out this post in hopes of gaining some advice for marketing myself as a job candidate and potentially later if I start my own business. In his post, he argues that PR “doesn’t work,” along with fancy business cards, cold-calling, and mail shots. He lumps PR – a management function – in with specific tactics. I agree that business cards and brochures can not stand alone as a method of marketing your freelance business. But I found it interesting that Stibbe listed blogging and website maintenance as good techniques but clearly separate from PR. In my Advanced PR Writing class, blogging and social media was the focus of a significant assignment. Why? I think because they are great ways to manage relationships with stakeholders/publics (including potential clients).

In another post from his blog, Stibbe wrote that “PR stands for public relations but it could also stand for press relations.” I disagree, at least with the fact that press relations could explain the entirety of what public relations is. The press is a public and it also provides a vehicle through which messages to other publics can be disseminated. But I do not think that PR practitioners should limit themselves to media relations.

I did get some good advice from Stibbe – I think one of my favorites was number 14: “Your obvious is your talent.” Do what you’re best at and fill that niche rather than trying to wear 20 hats. Lately I’ve been looking at Preston Bailey – the It guy of fabulous wedding and event design (he blogs too!). He started in the event design industry as a floral couturier, but used his talents to build a reputation as one of the world’s leading event designers and a celebrity favorite. His work has inspired me to focus my interests and specific talents: style and design AND strategic, creative thinking and planning AND relationship building.

Image courtesy of

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Yes, I am pro bono


(…a cheesy play on words, I know, but I do love U2)   

This month, the Business of Design Online has been discussing the value of working pro bono for design professionals. The most recent post outlined these top benefits for designers:

  • self-promotion
  • networking opportunities
  • portfolio puffing
  • experience
  • “the warm and fuzzies”

Okay so being the rosy-spectacled, hopeless idealist that I am, I was a little disappointed to see no truly altruistic motivations. No “because it’s the right thing to do” justification. But I understand – and not just because I live in capitalist America. Generating a good reputation is important – especially for the self-employed. Pro bono work appears to provide an excellent opportunity to do so.

I hadn’t thought about it this way before, but the work I do for Ballet Fantastique could qualify as pro bono, with a few tweaks. According to Thomas Stephan in his post “Don’t Work For Free Ever Again” the difference between volunteering and working pro bono lies somewhere in performing professional services, within the parameters of a previously agreed upon contract, but waiving the traditional financial compensation. With my work for Ballet Fantastique (where I started as an intern), I haven’t used contracts or developed complicated strategic plans, so Stephan would likely classify my work as volunteerism. 

Working for non-profits and charities has always been something important to me, but not really for any of the above-mentioned reasons. I’ve just felt responsible to use my talents to benefit others. I do believe, however, that it will be important to protect myself as a professional and to make informed, intelligent, mutually-beneficial decisions when considering offering my services pro bono; and to create clear, well-defined guidelines for working with such clients.

Just the other day I was wondering how professionals decide when and for whom to work pro bono, and what sorts of ethical questions arise surrounding these choices. How do you decide whom to charge and whom to not? Are there any regulations on this, either within industry bodies or professional organizations? Please, let me know if anyone has experience here. 

Image courtesy of

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    Saving room for some fun

    I don’t want my blog to end up just cataloguing my thoughts on academia and my own graduation story. Instead, I’d like to make an effort to post a few fun things here and there – just little things I happen upon in my day-to-day browse through the blogosphere and goings-on in the real world. Pretty things, clever things, funny things, whatever. I’ll maintain some focus by keeping it somewhat centered in event planning and design, but might take some liberties here and there if I simply can’t resist.Photo

    First up: While checking out The Dieline blog, I saw these Glacia premium water boxes. Much better for the environment than bottled water (fully recyclable materials and significantly less plastic) and still posh, i.e. not tap water. Hide them behind the bar at an event and guests can still enjoy premium water while exacting less of an environmental toll. Read more about them here.

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    The job safari

    I was about to write “job hunt” as my title but decided safari was a better description. When hunting, you go out, sit in the woods for a bit, and probably shoot at the first thing you see (apologies to hunters for my simplification). But I don’t think that’s what I want to aim for (no pun intended) in searching for my first real Job.

    Instead, I think I might make it more of a safari – go out and explore; see what all is out there in this great big grown-up-people world. I want to observe and learn and appreciate the environment. This is not to say I intend to be wishy-washy or flit from job to job. No no. Instead, I want to gain an understanding that will allow me to be consciously dedicated in all I do.

     So, the question is this: how do I book so-called safari adventure? I’m overwhelmed with the whole process and have no clue how to find a good starting job. I’m not asking for too much – just enough to pay the rent and maybe buy a cute pair of shoes now and then. And, at least for now, I’m limited to the Portland area.

    I’m looking for something entry-level in event planning for corporate and nonprofit events. What’s really important to me as well is to work strategically and creatively to develop events that help meet organization goals and also rock. Of course, I would be foolish to think my first run out of the gates will land me in the plush job I dream of – and I wouldn’t want that anyway. In that scenario, I would have little opportunity to grow and broaden my experiences.

    My advisor and instructor, Kelli Matthews, just pointed out to me – an aggregate job search engine. Other than that, I’m doing at the hunt-and-peck method.

    Leads, anyone?

     Image courtesy of

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    Blog Crushes


    New as I am to the blogosphere, I’m fast becoming enamoured of some awesome blogs out there. They take the words out of my mouth and then add about a bajillion-times better insights, or they say things I hadn’t even thought of. Their posts rock my world, ’nuff said.

    I’m feeling like that dorky loser freshman with a crush on the varsity football player. He’s so hot! He’s so cool! He’s so out of my league! Does he even know I exist? And if he did, would he even care?

    This week, my blog crush is Lara at ready 2 spark. She mixes creative, fantastical design inspiration with sophisticated strategic planning advice. I’m addicted already.

    Can I please be her?

    Photo image still from Sixteen Candles, courtesy of

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