Insights from Fyre Festival: Planning Community Outreach Events to Elevate Your Business

Community Event 8.23

August 15, 2023

By Curley & Pynn

On the heels of music festival organizer Billy McFarland’s announcement for the return of the now famously defunct Fyre Festival with “Fyre Festival II,” I find myself reflecting on the original catastrophic, yet bemusing, turn of events that led to the first festival’s demise.

Watching the slow crash and burn of Fyre Festival in April 2017 was as educative as it was entertaining. The hype surrounding the event, the red flags that began to appear soon after its announcement and the eventual disaster that resulted in its demise were textbook examples of what not to do when creating your community outreach event or program. After all, one of the primary purposes of creating an effective event is to build local support for your organization and that can only happen if you take the right steps to ensure its success. Unlike Billy McFarland.

Outreach events and programs can be an effective and compelling way to reach audiences by providing support, resources or essential service to your organization’s community. While Fyre Festival was meant to be an entertainment event, certain lessons from its development can be applicable to any community outreach event your company is considering implementing or participating in.

Proper Strategic Planning Goes a Long Way

A community outreach event without a proper strategy is about as useful as Fyre Festival’s luxury meals.

When developing measurable objectives for the event and its corresponding strategy, it’s important to answer a few crucial questions before anything else:

  1. Who in our community does this serve and what are their needs?
  2. Which stakeholders are we trying to engage with our event?
  3. How does this event fit into the overall communications strategy for our organization?
  4. How will this event help our organization grow?

If you plan on doing a community outreach event and want to maximize its potential, you need to be willing to allocate the budget and resources necessary for it to be successful. This means developing a robust strategy that considers the time commitment required to acquire the necessary resources, logistical materials and appropriate community connections needed to execute the event.

Audiences and stakeholders, including your own employees, can be wary of half-developed, poorly thought-out events. A major reason Fyre Festival failed was due to a lack of proper strategy and, thus, poor execution. Marketing and effective communication mean nothing if you can’t follow through, and a poorly executed event can serve your reputation more harm than good within your community and organization.

Making the Right Connections

Once you’ve asked the right questions and started crafting your plan, you need to make the right connections.

The community relations your organization has built or intends to build greatly factor into what kind of strategy you should incorporate for your outreach event.

Local politicians, religious leaders, school administrators and community health advocates are among the many groups that have the trust of their people since they are constantly searching for ways to serve their communities. When developing your strategic plan for your community outreach event, identifying and communicating with these strategic partnerships should be integral to its formulation. By leaning on professionals to do what they do best, you and your team can focus on your own strengths and develop fruitful local relationships. People love working with collaborators when it means the community will benefit in an impactful way, and doing so will elevate your organization above the rest.

In fact, another reason why Fyre Festival failed the way it did was because it failed to form these integral connections. In failing to properly communicate with the local authorities and vendors, Fyre Festival organizers did not consider how the venue was not prepared for the physical logistics required to hold the event. This led to the authorities shutting the venue down.

Among other reasons, outreach events will help build crucial relationships with local stakeholders that could prove beneficial for your organization’s overall strategy. Networking opens the door to future opportunities within your organization’s local community, regardless of whether it’s associated with an outreach event. Ultimately, it elevates your organization’s standing by providing credibility to what your organization is accomplishing with your event.

To learn more about building community relations and how they impact your organization, you can read this blog by Heather Keroes, APR, vice president of client relations at Curley & Pynn.

Putting Out the Fyre

You’ll find that establishing a plan A, B and C for possible scenarios for and during your event that incorporates so many moving parts and stakeholders will set you up for success.

By allocating the necessary resources to properly identify your community’s needs, establishing local connections to give your event credibility and verifying the physical logistics required to make your event successful, you can ensure that your organization will stand out. A properly executed community outreach event can boost your organization’s standing in the community and open doors to new opportunities.

You might find that a successful community outreach event can lead to further events, thus entrenching the support your organization is providing the community. This only serves to compound the benefits of a community outreach event and, unlike Fyre Festival, ensures that your future plans aren’t met with indifference.

If you’re looking for help developing strategy and thoughtful messaging for your community outreach event, feel free to reach out to us for a chat.

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