Music Festival

The Top 6 Things To Consider When Getting Ready To Reopen Your Event

GUEST AUTHOR: ERIN REGRUTTO, Risk Mitigation Consultant at Freeman Enterprises

The other day, I was walking on a trail near my house and passed by a 3’x3’ white coroplast sign with red writing. Not surprisingly, this sign was the exact size, shape, color, and font that I’ve seen used for many events for directional signage over my almost twenty year career in the event business. What was surprising, was that just seeing this sign made me long for the days of driving around on a golf cart, zip ties and snips in hand, hanging up signs – a job that is not generally that fun, but is a necessary part of any event. That longing made me a little sad, and even caused me to choke up for a minute (tears were definitely shed). If you have ever worked an event, you know what I mean – the months of preparation, the long hours of load-in, the excitement of watching the crowd pour into your site, and even the hangover of load-out. I don’t know about you, but I miss it. Like, really, really miss it.


Over the past several months, while quarantining and homeschooling three of my four children in Washington state, my business partner, Dennis Freeman, and myself have been researching health, safety, cleaning, and disinfection and applying that knowledge to every possible situation within an event site. Between Dennis and I, we have completed the World Health Organization’s Public Health Preparedness for Mass Gatherings, the Event Safety Alliance’s Event Safety Access Training, FEMA’s National Incident Management Systems, and FEMA’s Orientation to FEMA Logistics and applied this new knowledge to all of the events that we have ever worked; ranging from farmer’s markets to multi-day camping and music festivals. With Dennis’ extensive 30 year career in event management and logistics, he was able to contribute to the Event Safety Alliance’s Reopening Guide, which if you haven’t read it, please download it here (ESA Reopening Guide). It’s an incredibly useful document, put together by over 200 industry professionals, with the goal of providing guidance to the events that will get to come back first.


This information and the level of research required to fully understand the practical application of it, can be overwhelming. Ultimately, the goal for any event in a normal year, is to mitigate risk: identify potential risks at your event, determine if those risks can or need to be avoided, and develop a plan to either eliminate or minimize the identified risks, or accept that those risks are an inherent part of holding an event. With the addition of “infectious disease” to the long list of risks that as event organizers, we are already assessing, there are many (many) new twists and turns to risk mitigation that were simply not on most of our radars until now. (As with any challenge, you will want to review reopening with an attorney and your insurance company to ensure that you are not only legally allowed to reopen, but to make sure that your insurance company is willing to accept the Risk Mitigation Plan that you have outlined. This list is to help you know what to consider when you are able to reopen, but does not serve as a sure-fire way to mitigate all risk.)


We have compiled the “Top 6 Things To Consider When Getting Ready to Reopen Your Event”. Take a look at the list and really consider how the below applies to your specific layout and event in our new normal.


1. Consult With Your Local Authorities – As you do for EMS, the Police Department, Fire Marshal, the Environmental Health Department and other agencies, research your state and local regulations regarding mass gatherings. Working WITH these agencies, rather than attempting to skate under their radar will not only provide your patrons with a safer overall event, but the relationships that you develop by reaching out and being proactive will pay dividends for years to come:

  1. Check Executive Orders from your state’s Governor and your city’s Mayor
  2. Capacity Limits
  3. Face Covering Recommendations
  4. Social Distancing Regulations


2. Review Your Budget – The addition of new health and safety protocols are unfortunately not free. Depending on the degree of coverage required by your state, county, city, or internal event management team, you will need to factor in some additional dollars to cover the costs of whatever preventative measures that you will be putting into place.


3. Operational Elements to Consider – There are a multitude of options available when it comes to determining how you will best protect your staff and patrons from illness at a mass gathering. After taking a critical eye to your event, you will know what your main areas of focus for health and safety should be. We have included several available options below:


A) Back of House and Staff

    1. Additional Hand Washing and Sanitizing Stations
    2. Additional EMTs
    3. Temperature Screening for All Staff and Vendors
    4. Protective Shields at Locations Where Interaction Between Staff and Patrons is Unavoidable (food vendors, merch vendors, sponsors, box office/will call, etc)
    5. Increased Janitorial Staff for Higher Frequency Cleaning and Disinfection
    6. Policy Changes to Food and Beverage Operations
    7. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Required
    8. Will you provide PPE to staff if needed?
    9. Limit Staff Members/Production Vendors On-Site


B) Front of House Patrons and Staff

    1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Required
    2. Temperature Screening
    3. Additional EMTs
    4. Contact Tracing App Integration
    5. Touchless Ticketing / No Box Office or Will Call On-Site
    6. Ingress
      1. Staggered or Typical
    7. Egress
      1. Staggered or Typical
      2. Increasing Exit Points to Accommodate Social Distancing
      3. Emergency Egress Plan that Considers Social Distancing
    8. Increased Janitorial Staff for Higher Frequency Cleaning and Disinfection
      1. Additional Restrooms and Hand Washing Stations (more, assigned to small groups, etc….)
    9. How to Social Distance at Choke Points and Crowd Packs
      1. Food and Beverage Booths
      2. Merchandise, Retail, and Sponsor Booths
      3. Public Restrooms
      4. Stages
      5. Other Locations of Interest
    10. Designated Corrals for Limited Number of Patrons



4. Get Your Team On-Board – Share your plan with your team and take their feedback and concerns into account. The easiest way to get your Staff, Vendors, Contractors, and Sponsors to support and participate in your efforts is by including them in the planning process and clearly communicating with them what your final decisions are, and what you hope that those decisions will accomplish.


5. Communicate With Your Patrons – A well-prepared patron is far better than a patron who has no idea what is going on when they show up to your event. Make sure you communicate new rules or regulations that must be followed while on site. Here are some ways that you can reach your audience:

  1. Pre-Event Communication Through Your Website and Social Outlets – “What to Expect When You Arrive”
  2. Informational Signage in Parking Lots, Entry Points, and Event Site
  3. PA Announcements and Video Screen Graphics (if applicable)


6. When Someone Is Sick – Unfortunately, the statistics will tell you that it is likely someone will show up who has an elevated temperature. Protocols need to be in place prior to the event that focus on how you will handle each possible scenario related to these new health concerns. Here are just a few items to consider:

  1. Protocols for Staff, Vendors, or Patrons with an Elevated Temperature: Most cities have multiple testing sites available. While doing your temperature screening, if you run across a patron who does have an elevated temperature and/or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, have a list of testing sites ready to go, so that you can communicate next reasonable steps to each individual. Additionally, particularly in the case of a staff member, consider where they have been onsite, who they have been in contact with, and how to adequately clean and disinfect any areas that they have been working in. Quickly alerting staff who have been in contact with a person who is ill, is key to slowing the spread of infection.
  2. What To Do When a Staff Member or Patron Refuses to Follow Your Protocols: This is tricky, considering the strong feelings that are associated with some safety protocols. Ultimately, just as you set the rules for outside food and beverage, lewd behavior, counterfeit tickets, etc, YOU, as the organizer of the event, set the rules for what health and safety protocols must be adhered to within your footprint. If someone is not following the rules or your event, refer to your usual security plan for how to handle the situation, whether it’s a warning or a removal.


As event organizers, we are responsible for the health and safety of everyone within our event site. This has been true through everything from stage collapses, mass shootings, foodborne illnesses, trip hazards, and now infectious diseases. This new challenge is definitely a significant hurdle, but certainly not one that we can’t overcome. With some serious consideration and planning, you can provide an environment that is as safe as possible, while going on with the show. Ultimately, we all want to get back to work, and the more precautions we take to do that, the better off we are as an industry. Let’s work together to make sure that we can get back to doing what we do best – providing people with a great time and unforgettable experiences!


Erin Regrutto
Erin Regrutto

For more information or help with reopening your event, please reach out to Dennis Freeman at [email protected] or Erin Regrutto at [email protected]. We have developed full-scale Risk Mitigation Programs for all different sizes of events. We can help you put together a customized reopening plan for your event and work with the right vendors to get your new protocols in place.


5 Ways To Save Sponsorship Dollars If Your Event Is Cancelled/Postponed Due to COVID-19

Although we all hoped and crossed our fingers and toes, it has now become clear that summer events in the US are not going to happen as we know them. For most, they have been canceled or postponed and for the few such as farmers markets, they look quite different from years past. As these tough decisions are being made you may wonder how, or if, you will be able to keep your committed sponsorship dollars. I can’t lie and say it will be easy, but here are the main five ways I have seen events keep their sponsorships intact.

1. Communication is essential! Be honest and open with your sponsors. You are not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes by pretending everything is good with the event. We know and your sponsors know that it is more likely your event will be canceled or postponed, than it will go on like planned. So, make sure your sponsors know that you are working on a plan and let them know what that looks like. Keeping in touch and continuing to do so will keep sponsors feel more connected with your event and they may even have ideas that you could use!

2. Ask to roll over their sponsorship to next years event (or postponement date) by including them in additional marketing opportunities during this down time. Maybe include them in something extra that your event may do virtually or socially to engage your fans. Such as sponsored social interactive contests, email blast inclusions to your audience database, virtual marketplaces, or sponsoring a live stream of an artist or performer. *Pro Tip: To make things easy on you and your sponsor, have them sign a simple addendum to your agreement that changes the dates. This will make sure everything is in writing and you will not have to go through the agreement process again for the new event date.

3. Look at Virtual or Creative Options. Although I do not believe virtual will replace the live event experience it is an option that many events are looking to try. We have had several events create virtual options to save some of their sponsorship dollars. To do this, you need to keep a few things in mind. The principals for selling live event sponsorships are the same for virtual or creative options.

A) What is it that the sponsor is trying to get out of the sponsorship? If you cannot help them meet that goal through your virtual event then you will have a hard time keeping the money, the same as if it was a live event. Just taking a sponsor who had a major activation at your live event and offering them a logo on a Facebook stream will most likely not generate excitement or money.

B) If this is the first time you take your event virtual then you are up against unproven results. Keep this in mind when it comes to pricing and technology. If you are charging, you need to make sure the technology works! You also need to consider how you price. Perhaps you charge less than you normally would, but the event get’s more sponsorship dollars based on impressions or marketplace visits if you are doing a virtual marketplace.

4. If you are a non-profit you might be able to accept the sponsorship as a tax-deductible donation. All states have different rules around this but if your event has a 501c-3 behind it you should investigate the possibility of turning the sponsorship into a donation. We have seen success with this concept especially from those community events where the sponsors are invested in the return of the event. Even a few for profit events have had their sponsors be willing to “gift” them the sponsorship in order to see it recover next year.

5. If you have sponsors who have committed to this year but have not paid by the time you end up canceling or postponing it is still worth asking them to recommit to next year. Even if you must wait for the money knowing that you already have sponsorships committed to next year will make a huge impact on your recovery. Go ahead and have them sign an addendum that changes the dates on the agreement.

Remember that sponsorship is a partnership and if you treat your sponsors like partners you have a better chance of them sticking with you through these difficult times. How you treat your sponsors, vendors, and stakeholders during this time will make all the difference for when you come back next year.

ESA Reopening Guide

The Event Safety Alliance Releases Guidance to Assist Event Professionals Reopening During COVID-19

As municipal officials begin to allow small groups of people to gather in public even while the fight against COVID-19 continues, there is a tremendous need for guidance how small events and venues can reopen as safely as possible under these incredibly challenging circumstances. In response, the Event Safety Alliance today released The Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide.


The Reopening Guide addresses health and sanitary issues that event and venue professionals need to consider in order to protect both patrons and workers. Since there is still insufficient testing, no contact tracing, and no vaccine against COVID-19, this guidance is particularly detailed. The edition released today is tailored to be especially useful for event professionals reopening the smallest events with the fewest resources available to mitigate their risks, since in every municipal reopening plan these will be allowed to reopen first.


Other than emphasizing the importance of following authoritative scientific advice from organizations such as the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, the Reopening Guide offers suggestions and alternative practices for consideration rather than claiming that any one practice is better than all others. Event Safety Alliance Vice President Steven A. Adelman, the head of Adelman Law Group, PLLC and editor of the Reopening Guide, explains how the document applies the legal duty of care.


“As a matter of common law, everyone has a duty to behave reasonably under their own circumstances. Consequently, there is no such thing as ‘best’ practices. There are only practices that are reasonable for this venue, this event, this crowd, this time and place, during this pandemic. Because few operational bright lines would make sense, The Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide is designed to help event professionals think through their own circumstances. In the order than one plans an event, the Reopening Guide looks closely at the health and safety risks involved in reopening public spaces, then proposes risk mitigation measures that are likely to be reasonable under the circumstances of the smaller events and venues that will reopen first.”


The Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide is the product of contributions from more than 300 professionals from all facets of the live event industry, from the smallest to largest producers and the many businesses that work to support them. As it says on the cover, “Please share this Guide – We all want to reopen safely.”


The Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide is available as a free download at

Kids Festival

Reopening Guidance: Considerations for the Attractions Industry During COVID-19

Developed in partnership with attractions members and operators from around the world, as well as health-related guidance from government agencies and medical professionals, IAAPA’s “Reopening Guidance: Considerations for the Attractions Industry” outlines principles and approaches to consider for reopening once local government officials in your area remove “stay-at-home” orders, allow non-essential businesses to reopen, and say it’s safe for citizens to move around their community.


Click Below To Download The Guidance Document

Social media

Why Event Marketing Matters for Selling Sponsorships

A successful marketing campaign for a live event is important for many reasons. It not only helps to sell tickets to the event but also helps to attract sponsors. According to Bizzabo’s 2019 Benchmarks and Trends Report on Event Marketing, “The most successful businesses are spending 1.7x the average marketing budget on live events.” This means that there is a major opportunity for event organizers to secure deals with brands to have them market their company at their live events. It also means that an event needs to demonstrate the ability to run a successful marketing campaign to build confidence amongst future sponsors. Having a proven track record of successful marketing campaigns can give any event an advantage when it comes to selling sponsorships. On the flip side, having poor event marketing can cause the loss of a sponsor.

Types of Event Marketing

Before the event, social media and online marketing are critical. Having a website that is easy to navigate and nice to look at is essential. This is the first place that most people will go to learn about the event. This should be looked at as more than just a hub for information. It is a chance to put your best foot forward and engage with viewers. A website should be seen as a marketing tool and designed accordingly. Potential sponsors will be looking at these pages and determining if they want their logo and branding associated with your event.

Other types of digital marketing include email marketing and social media. Email marketing is a great tool for disseminating information to your audience because there are no tricky algorithms and community guidelines to follow. However, it is not as visible to those who do not already know about your event. Social media is especially important because it is an avenue for new people to find your event.

Why Social Media Matters

When your event has engaging and beautiful social media posts it not only helps to sell more tickets but also to build up the event’s reputation in the community. This in turns translates into being more desirable to work with. If a brand sees that you have not only a large following, but also create beautiful content, then they are more likely to want to work with you. Furthermore, this is something that can be leveraged when negotiating a sponsorship deal. Adding in a digital marketing campaign in addition to the on-site footprint can give any event’s sponsorship package a major edge over others.

How Does Bad Event Marketing Lose Sponsors?

A poor marketing strategy can make any event look unorganized, unprofessional, and all-around have many negative impacts. Brands do not want to associate their name with bad marketing campaigns. This can prevent an event from acquiring new sponsors and also cause them to lose ones that are currently signed on.

Event marketing matters when it comes to selling sponsorship because it is one of the first impressions a brand can have about an event. Companies only want to associate their name and logo with effective marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, bad event marketing can cause an event to lose sponsors because they will not trust the event to amplify their brand effectively. That is why having a well thought out strategy and heightened focus on marketing is an important factor when it comes to selling sponsorships.


COVID-19 State Of The Industry Expert Webinar Panel

The Rundown:

As the event industry has entered into uncharted territory during these uncertain times it has become apparent that many events especially those being run by volunteers and small staff needed some guidance as to what to expect and how to handle issues that are arising from cancellations and postponements due to COVID-19.  After being asked to appear on several event association webinars Ryan Kintz from ,Afton Tickets, Michael Bleau from ,Event Hub, and Teresa Stas from ,Green Cactus Event Sponsorships are working together to help other live events by sharing our first hand knowledge of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and the feedback we are getting from our clients and other events across the country.

We are offering to host a totally free 45-60 min webinar for your group or association that offers information and advice on the topics of Sponsorship, Ticketing and Vendors. It’s our way of giving back to our industry at its most vulnerable time. We’ve conducted webinars for the Oregon Festival and Events Association, California Festival and Events Association, Colorado Festival and Events Association, South Carolina Festival and Events Association, Florida Festival and Events Association, among many others! We will provide you with all the tools you will need to help market this webinar to your membership base including providing you with some strategies on how to leverage this webinar to gain more members!

Feedback from one of our recent attendees!

Signup Your Live Events Organization or Association

Our fully hosted and customized free 45-60 minute webinar for your group or association will offer information and advice for your event organizers and event vendors to help make it through the corona virus crisis.

Topics will include:

  • How to handle Sponsorships during this uncertain time.
  • How brands are dealing with their event sponsorships and what it means for you.
  • Correct messaging for ticket holders, vendors, sponsors, etc. to prevent a negative social media backlash.
  • How to handle canceling or postponing events.
  • Refund policy.
  • Incentivizing customers to keep their tickets for next year’s event vs. demanding a refund.
  • Strategies to financially survive a decrease in revenues due to COVID-19.
  • And more!

How to SIGN UP for our Webinar: For Festival Organizations & Associations with a membership following, Contact Green Cactus at [email protected] to schedule a special expert webinar panel specifically for your association members.

Please include the following in your email:

  • Contact info
  • Include Two or Three dates and times that would work for your organization (we are finding that Tues-Thursday at around 10am or 11am seem to work best)
  • We encourage you to include one or two of your own experts on the panel. Such as an event who has had to cancel or postpone, a legal or insurance expert to round out your webinar. If you have suggestions of people to include please also include them in the email as well.

As soon as we get your email someone will get back to you within 24 hours.

We are doing our best to accommodate every organization’s schedule. But available slots are filling up quickly. Please contact us to learn more.

Sponsorship Panel OFEA 2019

From the Sponsor’s Mouth: Key Takeaways from the Sponsor Decision Makers Panel at OFEA

A few weeks ago before everything came to a screeching halt, I hosted a panel of Sponsorship Decision Makers for the Oregon Festival and Events Association Conference. This panel consisted of representatives from Safeway/Albertsons, Columbia Distributing, Spirit Mountain Casino and Hood to Coast all who are all involved in the sponsorship decision making process for their brand. This was a chance to hear it from the “horse’s mouth” so to speak on what they are looking for in a proposal and also what they want out of a sponsorship. From important reminders to keep in mind to insights on the decision making process to some keys to make a successful activation here are some lessons learned from the sponsorship panel.


Do Your Research

What you think is going to work for one brand is not going to work for another brand. Find the correct person to discuss opportunities with. You will have more success if you take the time to discover the right contact. This is why networking is so important. Also, this is why investing in a company or agency that already has a book of sponsorship contacts is helpful.


Remember it’s a Process, Be Patient

Once a submission is received, the brands on the panel typically go through the following process:

  1. Determine if they have the budget.
  2. Due diligence: review sponsorship proposal, check out the event in person, an overview of logistics/execution, etc.
  3. Clearance from the marketing director that it fits with the marketing plan.
  4. VP or higher-level approval to ensure sponsorship aligns with the overall goals of the company.


Customization is Key to Relationship Building

Avoid pre-created packages and mass, impersonal messages. Proposals with pre-determined packages do not take into consideration what the potential sponsor’s goals or needs are. Greetings that are too generalized are not good either, as it does not incorporate the brand into the proposal at all. The sponsors want to be listened to and heard before receiving a proposal.

Not including data (attendance, past sales, etc.) is another common mistake. Documentation and concrete numbers are key factors that brands take into consideration when determining to work with an event. Based on a survey conducted by Green Cactus, the demographics of attendees were the number one thing that sponsors wanted to see presented from an event.

When creating the proposal, the more you can tailor the proposal to the individual company, the better. This will allow you to build a closer relationship with the brand. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”. Take the time to create a connection with the key decision-makers. This is done by truly listening to their needs and crafting a proposal that addresses them.


All About Activations

When running an on-site activation be sure to deliver on what is promised. Do not sell items in your sponsorship package that you can’t execute. However, mistakes happen that cannot be avoided sometimes. This is when follow up is key. When things go wrong, be sure to take ownership immediately. Address the situation with the sponsor and present solutions as soon as possible. nnWhen creating an activation, keep in mind the goals of the sponsor. Creative and unique activations are important but aligning with the brand’s objectives is essential. This is especially true if you are trying to sell them on a multi-year deal. The more you can deliver on their targets, the better chance you have of them returning. Also, creating a turn-key activation (one where the event does all of the work) is something that can be very alluring for a potential sponsor. Some brands may have their own set-up but for those that don’t, you having this as an option can be one way to secure the deal.


What to do When They Ask for More

Most of the times a sponsor is asking for more because they want to feel like the event is paying attention to them. However, at the end of an event, it’s important to assess the relationship to see if the extra work is worth the effort. This is also a good time to evaluate the sponsorship agreement. Oftentimes confusion results in not having a well-written, clear-cut agreement. Re-caps are also critical to create. Some brands will not even look at proposals without a recap from the last year.


How to Shift Demographics

Keeping with technology. A/B testing different promotions to new audiences. Geo-targeting and other avenues can help test on new sectors. Do not be afraid to try new things. The great thing about online marketing is that you can test without incurring a large cost. During the event, adding new programming can also help to attract a new audience that aligns with more potential sponsors.


Overall, the main takeaway from this panel is to focus on fostering a relationship with a brand. Whether they are a potential sponsor or a current one, giving them personalized attention and ensuring that an activation meets their needs is critical. nnIf you would like to see the video of this panel click here, or view it below.

The sponsorship panel referred to in this article took place on February 27 – 29, 2020 in Bend Oregon during the OFEA Conference. The panel consisted of Jocelyn Huffman, Sponsorship Administrator for Spirit Mountain Casino; Jaime Clary, Marketing and Promotions Manager for Safeway/ Albertsons; Christopher Stiles, Draft Manager for Columbia Distributing; and Dan Floyd, Chief Operating Officer for Hood to Coast and Hood.

Crowd Hands 2

Small Event, Big Sponsors Vol 6: How are Sponsors Responding to Live Events Amongst COVID-19 Crisis?

As we continue to abide by the CDC’s recommendations and more local governments put regulations in place, it can be a confusing time for both event organizers and sponsors. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that this situation is rapidly changing as more news and information is available to the public and local governments adjust restrictions.


As a sponsorship agency we were seeing the following three responses from our brands:


1. Holding on Signing All Pending Sponsorships: The first and most common response we have seen is a hold on all pending sponsorships as brands try to find their footing and anticipate the economic impact they will face. This can be hard when you are trying to meet sales goals but try to think of this as a positive. This is not a “No”. Staying in contact with these prospective sponsors is key.


2. Canceling their Sponsorship Agreements: I can’t sugar coat it; brands are canceling their sponsorship agreements. There are several reasons this might happen prematurely from the cancelation of an event. It could be because they target an age group that is considered vulnerable, so they don’t want to be portrayed as irresponsible by partnering with a live event at this time. It might be that they have taken a huge financial hit and are trying to cut expenses everywhere. Although sponsorship cancelations are our fear, there is some solace to remember. If they cancel and the event hasn’t, there is a good chance you might still get to keep the sponsorship money. Make sure to double-check your agreement as most events have a no refund policy if the brand cancels. Now, whether your event keeps the money or refund’s it is up to you. Keep in mind it may affect future relationships with that sponsor. So be sure to assess the situation from all angles.


3. Willing to Move Forward but with a COVID-19 Clause: Currently, there is increased importance around contracts. The good news is that not all hope is lost, although it is at a much slower pace, we are still seeing brands move forward with sponsorships. Now they are taking a much closer look at clauses that deal with event cancellations. It’s highly recommended that every contract includes a plan of action regarding if an event is canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. This will allow sponsors to feel more comfortable with signing.

We decided to reach out to five of the brands we work with to gain insight into how COVID-19 is affecting their business, how they are dealing with it, and how it will affect the events that they work with. In order for these brands to provide candid feedback they asked that we share their answers anonymously but what we can tell you is our interviews were conducted with sponsorship decision makers in the beer, liquor, grocery, power and hospitality industries. After our frank conversations with the brands it became clear that there were three key themes, that emerged from their responses how they are handling new partnerships, current relationships, and the importance of communication from the event during this time.


Not Committing to New Events

The consensus from every company we spoke to was that they were not committing to any new events until more clarity on the future is given. It is hard to give a timeline on when they may be looking to sign new contracts since we do not know exactly when events will be able to resume again but the overall understanding was that once the mass gathering bands were lifted they would be able to resume commitments to events.

“We are still reviewing but not committing to anything until the global and local situation returns to normal or the “new normal” is established.”

Some are still reviewing proposals while others are not. Unfortunately, due to the ambiguity around the future, it is hard for them to commit but it still may be worth reaching out and at least starting the conversation. While not all are looking at new proposals, many of them expressed a continued commitment to their current partners.

“I imagine this will impact future sponsorship spends but I would only anticipate it affecting new relationships. We are committed to keeping the long-term partnerships intact”

Now with all that said, our agency has had luck working with new sponsors during this time who have verbally told us that once the ban’s are limited they are committed to signing or are willing to at least sign a letter of intent.


Continuing to Work with Current Partners

A lot of the feedback we received was regarding how brands are handling their current partnerships. Many expressed a strong commitment to working with them as much as possible.

“We are supporting events best we can in rescheduling and working with them to have the best experience for their patrons when things do return to normal.”

They are keeping track of the changing situation as best they can while also focusing on their own business. As events begin to reschedule or cancel, it is important that they communicate and provide updates as soon as possible.

“If events are looking to reschedule, they need to keep in mind the timing. There is going to be a large demand for already limited event resources. I suggest communicating with all sponsors and suppliers to ensure everything that the event needs to be successful will be available to them.”

The biggest fear was that events do not have a plan for the future. Because there is so much uncertainty, having multiple contingency plans and options is important. At this point, everyone should prepare for the worst, especially if their event is scheduled for the summer. There is no confirmed date on when mass gathering bans will end so it is a good idea to create multiple plans and establishing a timeline of when hard decisions have to be made.

“The other thing is that we’ve heard from some of the events we sponsor that they are moving ahead as if the event is going to happen, and when we press them on “what if” scenarios they come off like they don’t need them because their event is going to take place. This is off-putting because most of us in the business world are constantly dealing with situations that come up that impact our business and require us to make alternate arrangements or adjust our plans. What those kinds of responses tell me is that these folks don’t have a plan. That may not always be the case, but if someone can’t articulate their plans, whether that’s monitor and adjust or, we’ll cancel if it isn’t cleared up by X date, or whatever it is then that’s where you have the opportunity to create issues between properties and their sponsors. Another reason why communication is so important.”


Communication is key

Probably the most important theme we found from their responses was the emphasis on open and active communication. Even if an event does not have all the answers they need to reach out to their partners and have a conversation about the situation.

“Events should do their best to stay in contact with companies. Updates, even if they are negative will only help both parties move forward the best way possible. Lack of communication can be extremely frustrating and can impact future sponsorship opportunities.”

As mentioned before, having multiple plans of actions and communicating that with brands is very important for maintaining the relationship. It not only shows that the event is prepared but also that they care about their partners and are looking out for their best interests.


Overall, many brands are very conscious about the volatility of the current situation. They understand that it’s a rapidly changing environment and are committed to working with their current partners. Unfortunately, they are not looking to commit to new relationships, but some are still open to proposals. The most important thing is for events to have a plan (or multiple) in place and communicate that with current and future partners.


This article was written by Teresa Stas and was originally published in the International Festivals & Events Association’s “i.e.: the business of international events” quarterly magazine May 2020.

The premiere association supporting and enabling festivals and events worldwide. For more information on the IFEA, go to


Teresa Stas
Teresa Stas

Teresa Stas is a national speaker, columnist, and consultant on the topic of live event sponsorships. She is an accomplished marketing leader and CEO of Green Cactus, a live event sponsorship agency based in Portland, OR and Fresno, CA. She has been named one of the 20 on the Rise Event Professionals by Honeybook and You can check out Teresa’s online sponsorship course at If you would like to get sponsorship tips to your inbox, you can sign up for the GC monthly newsletter at


Small Event, Big Sponsors Vol 5: No Sponsorship Recap Means Money Left Behind

It’s the start of a brand-new year. Heck! A brand-new decade and as we head back to work how you will reach your fiscal event goals for 2020 is probably on the top of your mind. I know it is for our clients, in fact I had a pretty extensive conversation with an event right before the new year because a Sponsor was asking for a recap of their sponsorship and the event didn’t know what to do because they have never done one. The conversation started because the event was frustrated that they weren’t getting the money that they felt the sponsorship warranted. They didn’t understand why they wouldn’t increase their sponsorship. I asked them if they had done a recap with them and showed them why the sponsorship fee should increase, and they let me know that they had never done recaps.

They felt like they had never really needed to. I seem to run into this attitude all the time with smaller events and I can’t stress enough…if you aren’t doing a sponsorship recaps you are leaving money behind and making your job harder. I know it may feel like you have a good relationship and a recap isn’t needed. Or it feels like extra work that isn’t needed but that is in fact not the case at all.

In last Fall’s column I went over how to increase your renewals and one of the steps was ALWAYS do a sponsorship recap. I constantly preach to my clients that it’s essential for you to not only show proof of your performance, but also debrief with your sponsor so that you know what did and did not work. The events we work with that conduct sponsor recaps re-sign at a 75% higher rate than those events who do not.

In my experience, I’ve found that most small events do not debrief with sponsors, which is a major misstep. A company’s sponsorship of your event is looked at as an investment and it’s up to you to show them that they made a smart decision. Many companies must prove to their higher ups why certain marketing initiatives worked or didn’t work. If they have nothing to show for their investments or if you leave it up to them to do the research on their own, it’s easier for them to just say “no“to next year.

If you don’t follow up with your sponsors after the event to find out what they think worked or didn’t work, how will you know what you need to adjust for next year or if you are in a position to ask for more? You can’t just disappear and resurface when it’s time for renewals because then it’s too late to fix any issues that might have arisen.

For those of you who may not know how to put together a proper recap or what information to provide let me break it down what information you should include.

  • Post Event Info: Include attendance numbers along with demographics and other information collected through research. Overall media reach and general event success info.
  • What did their sponsorship agreement include versus what did they receive? Highlight any additional assets that were bonused to the sponsor.
  • Provide photos of activations and assets, especially those the event was responsible for providing. Such as banners, posters, billboards, display booths, t-shirts, etc.
  • Include media value that the sponsor was included in and affidavits of radio and/or tv. Include air-checks when possible.
  • Provide copies of print ads and articles that include the sponsor and circulation numbers if available.
  • Provide originals of programs, posters, flyers, rack card, etc.
  • If the event was managing any sampling or distributing of literature, include numbers of how many were distributed.
  • If the sponsor was included in any off-site exposure or retail promotions include photos and/or documentation.

Most recaps will be less than five pages with a lot of photos showing proof. Your title sponsorships or bigger sponsorships may include more than five pages it just depends on the amount of promotion and/or marketing the sponsor was involved in. Think of your recap as their receipt for the product they paid for. You are showing them that they got what they paid for. When you take the time to do this you are proving that their sponsorship is important to you and that you are valuing the partnership. On the flip side of this many times when an event does recaps for the first time they start to realize that they haven’t been holding up their end of the bargain and that is usually why they aren’t getting an increase or renewal. It’s not enough to tell a sponsor that you did what you said you would, you have to prove it. The process of a recap holds the event accountable for it’s promised assets.

This idea of doing recaps might feel daunting if you haven’t done them before but starting now will make things much easier for you in the future. Our suggested process is simple, create a digital folder for each sponsor and anytime there is a promotion, social media post, advertising spot, photo or anything else the event does that relates to the sponsor, drop a copy or screen shot in the folder. If you do this through the year then it won’t make the recap so daunting after the event. Usually what happens is the event doesn’t think about it until after the event is over and trying to find and collect everything is what makes the process seem harder and more time consuming than it is.

I promise you that if you recap your event with your sponsors then not only will you see a growth in sponsorships but also in your relationships.

This article was written by Teresa Stas and was originally published in the International Festivals & Events Association’s “i.e.: the business of international events” quarterly magazine February 2020.

The premiere association supporting and enabling festivals and events worldwide. For more information on the IFEA, go to:”

Meeting 2

Small Event, Big Sponsors Vol 4: The Four Steps to Pitching Your Event

1. Start with a prospect that is a good fit for your event. As I’ve explained in a previous column, prospecting can be one of the hardest parts of gaining sponsorships, but it is the first step in a successful pitch.

A lot of events make the mistake of mass calling or emailing any and all businesses looking for sponsorships, regardless of whether they are a good fit for the event’s patrons.

Now you may be asking, “How do I know what’s a good fit?” You know by looking at your audience data! Who is your audience? Where are they coming from? What are their interests? What are they looking to purchase in the next year?

Letting your audience data lead you to your prospects will ensure that you find sponsorships that are a good match for your audience. When you match potential sponsors with your audience, you will not only experience greater success in signing sponsors, but your sponsorships will be more successful. Trying to squeeze a sponsorship into an event for the sake of the money almost never leads to successful results for the sponsor.

2. Set up a time to talk to the prospect BEFORE you send a proposal. I tell events this over and over, yet it feels like 90% of events still send out stock “level” proposals to cold prospects. Do not do this It does not work.

Warm up your prospects by setting up a meeting in person or by phone to discuss how their brand and your event can partner. Ask questions. Find out what they look for in a sponsorship and what a successful sponsorship looks like to them. Ask what they are trying to get out of sponsoring an event.

I also suggest asking the prospect how they will measure the sponsorship’s success. This allows you to put a strategy together that will provide the best opportunity for success by their standards. Knowing what the prospect’s sponsorship or marketing goals are will help you create a proposal that not only maximizes your dollars, but also ensures you are creating a sponsorship that reaches their goals.

3. Create a high quality, customized proposal that answers their questions and meets their expectations. When it comes time to actually putting the proposal together, I have some tips to share:

  • Include your audience demographic data and any additional relevant data that shows how your event and the prospect share the same audience. Being able to highlight this information goes a VERY long way to helping you close a deal.
  • Make your proposal informative, easy to read, and attractive. Your proposal is where you not only showcase your event, but also show that you are professional and that you take this prospective partnership seriously. Tip: don’t include pages and pages about your event; a paragraph or less is usually sufficient.
  • Craft the proposal to meet the prospect’s sponsorship initiatives. For example, if the prospect says they want to build a leads’ list from your event patrons, make sure you build in something that will help generate those leads, like an enter-to-win contest. Avoid a bunch of generic stuff like placing logos on flyers because that won’t push them to their goals. Be deliberate in how you craft the proposal so that it’s clear to them that you listened to and valued what they had to say, then show how your event can help them reach their goals.

4. Follow up with the prospect. After you present your proposal – whether it’s in person or by phone or email – make sure to follow up. Sometimes I’ll have to follow up several times in order to get a response. Ninety percent of the time, if I have taken the time to do the first three steps, I’ll get an answer back instead of a prospect just ignoring me. The most common answers are “yes,” “yes, but…”, “we don’t have it in the budget, but we want to do it next year,” and “no.”

When you get a “no”, follow it up with a gentle request for feedback. See if they will tell you why they passed. This might lead to further discussion, or it will at least allow you to change approaches for next year. In most cases, if you get a “no” and you have done the first three steps, it comes down to budget. If it’s a budget issue, there might be a way to negotiate.

If you feel like you are falling short on hearing “yes” from prospects, you may want to reevaluate how you are approaching your pitch. When I find that I’m not hitting my sponsorship goals, it’s usually because I skipped one of the steps.

Sponsorship sales is a time-consuming process, but when you take the time to do your pitches properly you will most certainly see success.

This article was written by Teresa Stas and was originally published in the International Festivals & Events Association “i.e.: the business of international events” quarterly magazine November 2019.

The premiere association supporting and enabling festivals and events worldwide. For more information on the IFEA, go to: