Q. I am interested in a career in event planning or event/experiential marketing. There is not much information on how to get a career started in event/experiential marketing and I was wondering how I could start my career in this? For example, do agencies have AEs that just do event planning or event planning? Also, would it be best to start in a marketing agency like Jack Morton, a PR agency or general an event planning job? -KJ
A. While all major agencies provide event planning services, other firms have built specialized business models around event/experiential marketing. They range from large firms that produce and support major sporting and entertainment events, to smaller agencies that handle openings for restaurants, stores and local entertainment events. Some provide turn-key support for fund-raising events and others are provide arms and legs to companies and agencies that need help on an occasional basis.
During my tenure at four corporations, I found in-house event/experiential marketing staffs to be small with little turnover. Therefore, there are not as many opportunities on the corporate front. Instead, your best bet is to search out such positions at firms that provide these services for major clients.
While some AEs might from time to time be primarily focused on event work, most carry out a great deal of other general PR activities that, in my opinion, provide necessary balance for a career.
You’re correct that Jack Morton is the type of firm that seeks out event marketing talent. Another impressive firm is Relay Worldwide, a sizable sports marketing firm that supports many sporting events around the world. Relay lists openings on a dedicated job site that currently has nine such openings. Several boutique firms such as Margie Korshak in Chicago focus primarily on supporting marketing events.
Hotels, cultural institutions, athletic teams and major cities have event marketing staffs, so cast your sights beyond traditional or boutique agencies.
While some event marketing professionals have made wonderful long careers in this field of PR, many of these jobs are often not as glamorous as they initially appear. The magic of helping stage an event for your favorite rock star eventually wears off after you’ve done the 24/7 advance work for a 33-city tour in as many grueling days. Still, it provides great experience that I then encourage converting into a selling point to land a more traditional agency position. There is an abundance of event and experiential opportunities in these more traditional positions, and the scope of work is usually broader.