Last Monday, the day right after our commencement weekend had ended, our office received a call that the governor of New York was coming to do a press conference on Wednesday, and he was going to use one of the spaces in our Student Center. We didn’t have much choice in the date, space, or time as you can imagine. He was speaking about protecting people with special needs and disabilities. After the event was over, it got me thinking about how these types of events get serviced with such short notice.
Lucky for us, the governor had just visited in March 2011 for a press conference, so we had a good template in place. We also knew some of his staff. We found out Tuesday morning that the governor’s staff was to arrive at 2 p.m. What is interesting is that the governor has his own sound and lights crew that sets up his events. For any other event, our staff takes the lead. We assisted in helping the crew unload all the equipment: stage, podium, curtain, soundboard, lights, etc. They spent the afternoon testing the lights, projection, and sound. We also worked with our energy management staff to reduce the temperature set point in the space as well as have the air run all night long to keep the space cool. The parking space requirements meant that we had to close half of our main loading dock. Our physical plant was even able to get some painting done.
The day of the press conference proved to be challenging. Events of this type are constantly changing minute by minute. We added chairs; we subtracted chairs. We adjusted the rows several times as it was anticipated that there would be attendees in wheelchairs. We had to curtain off the hallway right near the entrance to the space to accommodate the green room requests. The location of the check-in table for the event was moved three different times.
The event went very well and everyone involved stepped up to provide top-level service. There were more than 200 people in attendance as well as the standard local press representatives. However, with such short notice, many staff people had to drop whatever it was they were working on and focus on the press conference for two days. I am always amazed at how much can be accomplished within such a tight time frame.
What stories do you have of planning high-profile events on short notice?
is the Assistant Director at Syracuse University.
Dave Pennock’s responsibilities include the operations of two student centers as well as the student employment program. He has held several regional leadership positions including regional director. In his free time, Dave enjoys attending Syracuse University sporting events and spending time with his two boys, Brady and Josh.