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  • Planning an Event

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  • Planning an Event 

    Helpful Hints: Event Planning Online: 14 Essential Social Media Tools

    Event Planning

    Hosting a successful event on campus can be very rewarding for a student group, but it requires plenty of planning to ensure you maximize your event's potential to generate attendance and visibility for your group. 
    Be sure to look for tips tips to help you out with items for each area. 

    Getting Started

    Don't go it alone. Share the responsibilities of event planning by forming an Event Committee with a few key members of your student group. Meet well in advance of your proposed event date and discuss ideas.

    Here's a few initial questions to review with the Event Committee.

    1. Goals and Type of Event - What goals do we have for our event? What are we hoping that people will take from the event? What type of event accomplishes that goal?
    2. Schedule - When will the event be best scheduled? When will the program have the best attendance? Where could we host an event like this? What venues are available?
    3. Marketing - What kind of marketing do we need to make the event successful?
    4. Timeline - What will our timeline look like?
    5. Evaluation - How will we evaluate and measure our success?

    Don't let the planning start and end with brainstorming though. Work together to assign tasks and identify how and when you'll follow up as a group with ongoing plans. Each of the above questions correlates to part of the Event Planning Process. 

    tips TIP: Planning a large conference or event? Continuing Studies offers Conference and Event services such as registration, CEUs, marketing & promotion, fiscal agent services, and more. The office will work with both on-campus and off-campus groups. Contact Continuing Studies. 

    Goals & Types of Events

    What your group could achieve from a lecture can be very different from a date auction. Starting with a clearly identified goal will help ensure that you're planning an event that's tailored to meet that goal. For example, to create more awareness for a specific cause, it may be more appropriate to host an event that features an expert on that issue or cause rather than hosting a dance. If you're looking to foster community and create connections among students, hosting an event that's social in nature makes more sense.

    Determining what goals you have for the event will help make the rest of the planning process simpler.

    • Do you want the event to be educational, social, or a combination?
    • Do you want the event to be open to the public or for group members only?
    • Do you want the event to focus on a certain topic or point?
    • Are you providing for diversity of interests/points of view?

    tips TIP: If possible, make your goals measurable. For example, how many people do you want to attract?

    Types of Events

    Lectures and dances require very different event planning. Make sure you choose to plan an event that meets your goals. Here are some events that have been hosted in the past:

    • Lecture by one or several speakers
    • Dance
    • Date auction
    • Concerts
    • Art show or fair
    • Panel discussion
    • Presentation
    • Theatrical play
    • Cultural festival and celebration
    • Community service

    Scheduling Your Event

    In your event committee, identify a timeframe you'd like to host the event, along with a few back-up dates and times. If you will require space to host the event, you'll want to identify spaces that meet your needs.

    Here are a few commonly used facilities with reservable spaces. Make sure to give yourself ample time (one month or more for large events) to meet with the facility's Events & Conferences Office.

    Comstock Memorial Union
    In the Comstock Memorial Union, student organizations & departments do not pay for the rental of space. Off - campus groups & organizations do. The Comstock Memorial Union offers meeting rooms and large event spaces.

    Outdoor Space
    Outdoor spaces on campus including the campus mall are all available to reserve for outdoor events. If you are interested in reserving these spaces, contact Campus Scheduling. Large outdoor events, including concerts, will require additional planning time, please submit request up to twelve weeks in advance. 

    tips TIP: Check the Events Calendar to find any conflicts for that date/time!

    Promoting Your Event

    Your event's success is directly related to the amount of marketing you plan and implement prior to the event. Depending upon the goals of your event, the marketing strategies are different.

    For example, if your event is meant for group members only, an email to your listserv, plus a few phone calls and meeting announcements will probably do the trick; however, if you are hoping for a larger audience, you will need to market the event to a broader population. Here are some suggestions: 


    Student organizations may use supplies from the Activities Resource Center (ARC, CMU 225) to create promotional banners. Designing and creative processes should take place in the ARC. All banners need to be approved by the Info Desk prior to display. Horizontal banners and oversized posters shall be no larger than 3’x7’. Vertical banners and oversized posters shall be no larger than 5’x3’.There is a limit of one banner per event regardless of the number of sponsoring organizations. Banners and oversized posters may only be placed on the railings above the Main Lounge. All banners and posters must be in good taste and will be removed 24 hours after the event.


    You can post fliers and posters in the Comstock Memorial Union on the approved boards. Posters must be approved at the Info Desk, CMU 115. Posters can be posted for up to two weeks. Academic buildings and residence halls have different policies on posting. You should ask for permission and specific procedures at each building.

    tips TIP: Divide and conquer. Split up your postering crew by parts of campus so you don't all poster in the same areas. Keep a list of locations and businesses that allow you to post information for future use.


    Student Organization Listserv - The listserv is open to all MSUM students, organizations, and staff. Once you have subscribed, you will receive emails about upcoming events on the MSUM campus and will be able to let others know about your events.

    Other important listservs include:

    • Dragon Digest – This public list provides general school info to the campus. All faculty and staff are put on the list, but they can choose to unsubscribe. Students may choose to subscribe to Dragon Digest. To send information out using Dragon Digest, fill out the submission form.
    • Student Dragonews – This private list sends student related notices. All students are subscribed, and they can choose to unsubscribe. Faculty and staff may choose to subscribe. To send emails out using Student Dragonews, send an email addressed to

    Residence Hall Mailboxes

    Every recognized student organization receives a mailbox in the OSA. These mailboxes should be checked frequently, as important information from the OSA and MSU Moorhead is dispersed in this way. If you would like to place advertisements in the mailbox, please have them approved at the OSA front desk.  

    Table Tents

    Are you looking for an effective way to advertise your upcoming events, activities, and meetings? If so, the Office of Student Activities has an opportunity for you!

    You can reserve ad space in the table tents by submitting the online request form. Please wait for an email notification before submitting hard copies to the Office of Student Activities, CMU 229. View the OSA website for more information.


    Advertising in on-campus publications like the Advocate can be very effective, as many students are frequent readers. Costs vary depending on the size. We recommend contacting the paper to inquire on costs for student groups. 

    Press Release

    You can also submit a press release which details the "who, what, where, when and why" of your event to attract media coverage at your event. Make sure to highlight why your event is newsworthy, especially to those who may have no affiliation to your group. Most local papers, web sites and on-campus newsletters accept press releases. Please note, this is not a guarantee they will cover your event. 

    tips TIP: Send your press release at least 5 days in advance for a daily publication, two weeks prior for a weekly publication. Visit the publication's web site for contact information for press releases.


    Officially recognized MSUM student organizations, departments, individuals (students, faculty or staff) can register to chalk. Chalking is allowed only on the sidewalks in the campus mall area and on the main sidewalk from 11th Street South to 17th Street South.

    No chalking is allowed on any steps or non-sidewalk surface, any building or any other University property except along the above route. All other chalking will be washed immediately at the expense of the individual(s) responsible for the Chalking. No individual or groups external to the University are allowed to chalk. Sponsoring of external groups is not allowed. Refer to Chalking Policy for specific guidelines. 

    Comstock Memorial Union Opportunities

    Bulletin Boards
    All fliers/posters need to be approved and stamped by The Compass prior to display. There is a limit of 3 posters/fliers per event regardless of the number of sponsoring organizations. All posters/fliers must be in good taste and will be removed by The Compass within 24 hours after the event. 

    Can Stands and Sandwich Boards
    Reservations for use of can stands and CMU space to place stands can be made at the Recreation and Outing Center. There are three locations in Comstock Memorial Union in which can stands/sandwich boards may be used to advertise events. These locations are available on a first-come, first-served basis to student organizations and departments. Can stands/sandwich boards may be utilized only the day before an event and the day of an event.

    CMU Display Cases
    Display cases are located in the main hallways of the CMU and can be reserved at the CMU Main Office. Any recognized student organization may use a display case for a two week period once during each semester. The user is responsible for removing all display materials on the last day of the reservation. Student organizations may schedule a display window during the current semester for that semester.

    Main Lounge Tables
    Information and promotion tables are available in the CMU Main Lounge. Reservations may be made at the Info Desk. Recognized student organizations on campus will be permitted to sell items that are not in competition with merchandise on sale in the CMU. No sales will be for personal profit.

    Event Approvals & Permits

    When event planning, there are many things to take into consideration. Here are a few forms that you may need.


    If planning an event, please ensure your guest have appropriate parking. Contact the Parking Office when you have groups needing temporary parking passes. Check the Parking Rules & Regulations.

    Temporary Parking Permits - May be issued to persons holding paid permits when their registered vehicles are unavailable.

    • If a substitute vehicle is used and the original permit is not available, a temporary permit will be issued and will include all the priviliges of the original permit.
    • Meetings, conferences and larger public events: it is the responsibility of the event coordinator to arrange with the Parking Office for parking accommodations for guests 2 business days in advance of the meeting or conference. Guest permits are issued for only 2 consecutive days. Parking for longer periods of time requires temporary permits at $5.00 per week. Permits are obtained from the Parking Office. Where possible, special event parking will be assigned in lots K or P. Vans for shuttle services can be reserved at the Physical Plant by the event host.
    • Residence hall temporary guest permits for overnight parking in lots J, K, or P are available from the Security Office and the Parking Office. Guest permits are issued for only consecutive days. Parking for longer periods of time requires a temporary permit at $5.00 per week.

    Parking/Public Safety Office
    1616 9th Ave. South | Moorhead, MN 56563
    218.477.2675 (Voice) | 218.477.2980 (TDD) 


    Is your event outside, will it include a dance or other activity or is it meant for more than 100 attendees? If so, you will may need event liability insurance. Proof of insurance must be shown prior to your reservation.


    Events that produce sound outdoors will only be permitted between the hours of 12pm & 1pm during weekdays, from 5-10 pm on Fridays, and 12-10 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. There are no exceptions for student groups to the sound policy.


    For some events, the University requires that you hire Camps Security to serve as security officers at your event. You must schedule this at least 10 business days in advance. Please contact Campus Scheduling or Campus Security to make arrangements.

    Planning Timeline

    It is really important to keep your timeline clear as you plan ahead for your event. Make sure that you are organized and that the event is well thought-out so that you can ensure success. Check out the Event Planning Guide.

    Do we have a true timeline for events with 6-months out, 2 months...and so on? 


    Make sure to draw up a plan for day-of event implementation that details responsibilities for each member of the Event Committee. Try to find volunteers to help out with set-up, event implementation and take-down.  

    tips TIP: Have a pre-event meeting to go over all logistics, and forecast any problems. This will help you troubleshoot during the event.


    Congratulations! The event is done, and it's time to measure how effective you were. Revisit your goals, and see how your implementation measured up to the goals. Have a post-event meeting with your Event Committee to celebrate your successes and review areas for improvement. Check out the Post-Event Evaluation for specific questions.