Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Putting together a conference

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Been chatting to people of late about them running their own events, from conferences to awards shows, to annual days out. Depending on what kind of event you’re running, putting a conference together can cost from 8k to 15k, depending on the location, food and numbers of people. Venue rental and food are normally the biggest costs.

Might as well share some of the things I’ve learned (some at a stiff cost) about running conferences.

Headline sponsor
In terms of headline sponsor, try and have your headliner’s fee cover most of your infrastructural expenses. So venue, speakers, MC, etc. covered by the headline sponsor. If you also have other sponsors, their fee would go into these expenses too. Then ticket sales can pay for food and non-essential but nice-to-have items. Realex Payments, Bord Gais Energy,, National College of Ireland have all been headliners at events and I would mostly have had working relationships with them so when working on ideas for events, I would have sounded them out in advance. Getting commitment from a headliner before announcing and spending on an event is quite soothing.

Ticket sales:
I see ticket sales as where you see the profit. In theory anyway! It just makes it easier for me to calculate costs and revenue when I see x tickets means y profit. With headline and possibly category (if an awards) sponsor, you pay for all the bits that you need to run your event with no frills and then the Y bit is for fun stuff.

You then add in frills when your ticket sales come in. 500 quid in ticket sales = you can now buy cupcakes and sweets. A further 1000 and you can get funkier lights instead of just the venue supplied lights. (Did this with the Web Awards last year, waste of money) 500 in sales for allowed us to Livestream the event for example.

Have a list of what you “can’t do without” at the event and a list of what “you would like to have”. If you see ticket sales come in and everything in the “can’t do without” list has been covered, look at the “would like to have” list. Don’t go mad though as stuff you forgot about will occur and you will have to pay for that. (The sweet jars being nicked at the Social Media Awards last year ended up with me being fined a few hundred euros.) Ice cream trucks, bouncy castles and all of that are also great for PR for the next event.

Rick and his brolly

If you work with people you trust you don’t need to worry or check up on them. Rick O’Shea, Michelle McCormick, Ryan Whalley, Brian Greene, John Williams, Fran Hollywood are involved with most of my events, they turn up, do their thing, exchange nods with me and we’re away and fine. Aoife in the Mansion House is the same. “Usual?” “Yeah, usual”. People are the most important thing in your planning and if you have the right people in place, you can sleep the nights before the event.

Look after those people then. If the budget stretches, bring them out to dinner, get them good rooms in good hotels and remember to thank the shit out of them in front of others. (I always end up forgetting to thank someone so I have finally started writing my thank yous in advance)

Warm-up events
The Blog Awards always left me owing money to people but the experience allowed me to do the Web Awards and Social Media Awards. Running social media mini-events called Measure It! showed me there was an appetite for the event. Run some other smaller events to see how well you work with your team and see how the public reacts to the events.

Give complimentary tickets to business partners, media and those that you can’t pay for the help but want to thank in some small way. While you see comped tickets as being free, if there’s food on the night, you are paying €12-€15 a head for them so you do still need to budget for “free” tickets.

Work the room
The Web Awards suffered last year from ticket sales and sponsors because I was too busy with the day job. This meant less fun things on the night. You have to work hard on social media, email and phonecalls. Remind without bothering about your event. Share the milestones (50 tickets sold, 100 submissions so far, two new sponsors) Every time we tweeted about ticket sales, we got more ticket sales.

Hope that helps. I hope to run another event or two this year and add to the regular events stable next year too. If you want to be a headliner, you know where I am.

Dislike – 16 +17 December in Project Arts

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Colm O’Regan is doing his standup show Dislike in Project Arts on December 16th and 17th. Colm did a mini-version at the Web Awards this year and it got a great reaction from the web savvy crowd. It’s worth a look if you’re a Facebook addict, someone that loves the web and/or someone that finds the bailout and financial crisis to be sad but also darkly funny. Or you will after. Tickets are the same as a packet of cigarettes after the next budget. (€12/€10)

Colm O'Regan Dislike

Fund It – Self funding for the arts, lessons learned (Part 1)

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

When Fund It was announced ages back along with other grant announcements like 180k on a hologram about Irish Coffee, I was slightly cynical. Sure it was just a clone of Kickstarter. And it was and is.

Fund It though is localised and with it, it has a vibrant community of people in the arts, trying to build creative or crazy projects with the help of the general public. I’ve been impressed with the way people are taking to it both as those soliciting funds and those contributing 5 euros, 10 euros or 500 euros. I’ve asked three people who have used Fund It for projects to share their thoughts on using Fund It. To note: I started writing this post in August and have finally had time to put it all together now.

I interviewed Philly McMahon from ThisIsPopBaby about Year of Magical Wanking, Eamonn Brett for his Wires project and Fiona Kearney from Lewis Glucksman Gallery about Mixtapes. I got very detailed answers back from everyone so I’m splitting this into three parts. First up is Philly, tomorrow will be Ebby and the next day will be Fiona.

Year of Magical Wanking and Fundit

You’ve used Fund It for Year of Magical Wanking, anything else?

I lead the Year Of Magical Wanking campaign, and have advised the Late Fragments as well as some smaller advice to Paper Dolls.

Why use the Fund It route? What would you have done previous to this?

For theatre, some other options are:

  • Apply to the Arts Council for a grant.
  • Don’t do the show.
  • Do the show with everyone working for free as well as beg borrowing and stealing equipment, props etc.

Fund It allows a project to reward people who wish to pledge money to their campaign. If the rewards are good enough, then it becomes less about charity and more of an exchange. For emerging companies or for projects that are unlikely to be eligible for public funding, Fund It offers an opportunity to raise all or part of the money needed to get a project off the ground. I guess it’s the modern equivalent of a Pub Quiz fundraiser – only now you don’t have to go to a boring quiz, and you might actually ‘win’ something you want.

Is there much work involved in running a Fund It drive? Setting up seems ok. There seems to be a lot of work in doing frequent updates/reminders about a campaign, did you have a plan of action for this?

There is a lot of work involved in creating your project. It’s good to make a video specific to your campaign – writing clear copy for your homepage and working on rewards that are worth pledging cash for but are also achievable (while not burning a giant hole in the total you’ve raised – there’s no point in raising 3k and spending half of it issuing rewards). Once the campaign is created, I would advise making a plan of how to roll out your campaign – how to keep it fresh and afloat for the time period you’ve chosen. We had a full plan of how, who and when we were updating social media sites, direct mails, mailshots etc etc. You have to constantly drive the campaign.

What were the main lessons learned from using Fund It, would you have advice for those thinking of using Fund It themselves for the first time?

I’m not entirely sure about lessons learned. there’s very little that I wouldn’t do again. my main advice is to choose a realistic target – ask yourself who is going to pledge money to your campaign and why. I’d advise people to have a really good campaign video – really clear copy (be economic with words – no waffle). Identify who is rolling out your project – there may be ten people involved but only four might be web savvy, so who is gonna drive the thing? I would advise people to question their social media networks – do they have enough friends, fans and followers to warrant sufficient interest in the project? And also to use Fund It as a way of giving friends and family an outlet to support their work. After that – my advice is to sit on the project until the very last day. it can be hard work – but no-one gets thousands of euros easily. Thank people, acknowledge people and be grateful. People are parting with hard earned cash – it’s incredible.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?

I think Fund It has some other plusses. For theatre, I believe it’s a way of cultivating an audience. Before a show opens you already have X amount of ambassadors who will not only buy a ticket, but they’ll bring friends. They’ll tell people about this project they’ve invested in and they’ll talk about it. I also think it’s interesting to invite people to take a closer look at the artistic process – let them know how much things cost and how things are made. It can make the art form seem far less elite, and certainly for me that’s important.

What didn’t happen at the Web Awards

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Being a Mulley type awards gig, we try and make it as informal and fun as we can. Or childish. Sometimes this is the same thing.

I had an idea for the Web Awards that we could start handing goodies in the form of sweets out to people in the audience. Then when I fleshed this out I thought a fun way to do this is to package the sweets in airline trays and hand them out row by row. And to make it more fun again I envisaged drag queens (it is my objective to have drag queens be involved in some way in a Mulley gig in the next while just to intimidate and amuse some straightlaced hetero males) dressed up as trolley dollys handing out the trays to rows of people. A combination of the High Life and Willy Wonka.


Sourcing the trays was the issue though. Drag queens are a plenty. I think I would have had to buy at least 100,000 units in order to get the trays. Did my best to find local sources but nobody seemed to get access to a supplier. Ah well, another time.

Still, we did have Pushcakes from Curious Cupcakes. Cupcakes done like pushpop lollipops.

Photo by The Sociable.

A year in an hour and a bit

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

If you were to bump into this witty and cultured guy at a friend’s party and think he’s a good laugh and he invites some friends and you to another party, you take his car and on the way to this other gaff you realise it’s not his car, he just lifted keys from the original party and he’s actually on second thoughts a bit mental and with a scary dark side and you have no idea where the fuck you’ll end up or if you’ll escape, then you’re slightly experiencing the genius that is Neil Watkins and his play The Year of Magical Wanking. And if you only breathe out after that last full stop, this is what the play will do to you. You can’t be prepared, so go with it. Funny, scary, intelligent and with spit in your face honesty. It could just be a little bit liberating.

Runs 9-17 September 2011 in Project Arts Centre. Tickets on sale from Absolut Fringe Dublin 2011.

This is the new trailer.

And this is just five minutes of what you’ll be experiencing:

15 minutes

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

Jack in Media Contact asked me to do a workshop for the Media Contact Mash conference in May and asked me to figure out what I wanted to cover. He also wanted to try out something new and make me a “media sponsor”. New meedja/social meedja etc.

The idea being that I use my media channels (Blog, Twitter etc) to highlight the conference and my workshop and I get a return if anyone that follows the link above or here buys a ticket. Being honest, I like the idea but have always tried not to make any money from this blog apart from linking to my business site. I can’t bundle my share into a ticket sales reduction as then every media partner would be ignored if mine were cheaper so whatever is made from ticket sales kickbacks via those links, I’ll probably put it to non-Damien use. Maybe I’ll randomly post it to someone or something or do a KLF on it.

Anyways, I’d just written an article for the Cork Independent on things that can be done to websites/Facebook/Twitter that can improve so thought it might make an interesting talk. Going to cover 15 points, 15 minutes each. We’ll have a novelty clock perhaps. This is some of the blurb:

Perfect for those who want an overview of digital marketing. Perfect for those who only have fifteen minutes a week to work on digital marketing. Perfect for those with short attention spans. Perfect for those with short attention spans.

24 hour clock at greenwich observatory
Photo owned by dodsport (cc)

And the talk marks me not doing a public talk again. Until perhaps 2012 but maybe longer. We’ll see. It’ll be refreshing to go to a conference and not see Damien Mulley’s name somewhere. I’ll do a blog post on the takeaways from the workshop a bit afterwards too. This is the link that pays for my jelly bean addiction.

BlogTalk 2010 – Galway – August 26-27

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

BlogTalk 2010 is back again in Galway. Registration for BlogTalk is €149 for two days (early bird). There are also have student / unemployed / one-day rates too.

Some of the speakers include:

  • Dan Gillmor (director, Knight Center): Activist consumers and responsible media creators in a networked age
  • Stowe Boyd (social tools authority): Social media blur: blogs, networks are turning into real-time streams
  • Don Thibeau (director, OpenID): Open identity for open government
  • Charles Dowd, Sonia Flynn (Facebook): The Facebook Platform
  • Ade Oshineye (Google): Social networks versus conversational networks

Full breakdown of talks.

Might be worth a visit for Dan and Stowe alone.

Best trailer for a conference ever? Dotconf

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

The young lad Traynor’s accent is spot on there!

Are you de face of Barry’s Tea, like?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Via Barry’s Tea Facebook – Want a picture of you to feature on Barry’s Tea Gold Blend packaging? You have until this evening to send in a pic of yourself which may get featured. You don’t have to be from Cork to enter. Email the pics to: Sooo much potential for poses using a tea cosy or two.

cosy tea
Photo owned by tristankenney (cc)

Dublin Tweasurehunt, the second coming on Saturday

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

After the good feedback of the first one, we have another Tweasurehunt planned for this Saturday. More clues, more fun. Prizes too. And all for free and you might encounter some interesting cultural elements in Dublin City Centre too.

You don’t really need to know Dublin well, street names perhaps, if you’re weak on this, why not join up with someone that is?

Sign up by leaving a comment on the post over here.