What the Movie "Clueless" Taught Me About Planning

It might be farfetched to think you can learn a thing or two from a high school drama, but when I think of strategic public relations tactics such as event planning, Clueless’ Cher Horowitz immediately jumps into my mind.

In the movie, Cher delivers an incredible speech paralleling the need to plan to include refuges in the nation and planning a birthday dinner. The speech earns her a passing grade in a debate course. Let’s evaluate her plan to deal with crisis:

“Some people came that, like, did not R.S.V.P. I was like, totally buggin’. I had to haul to kitchen, redistribute the food, and squish in extra place settings. At the end of the day, it was like, the more the merrier.”

What this scene has taught me in my career as an event planner, and ultimately resource manager, is how to think quickly on your feet. Cher’s event was a success because of contingency planning. In public relations, the idea of contingency is necessary to plan for crisis, mismanagement, and any sort of business problem. We would all like to live in Cher’s world, where things are perfect and everyone R.S.V.P.’s but in actuality, things happen and you have to roll with the punches.

As a PR professional, you can chose to accept this reality and plan ahead for all strategic initiatives. As wonderful and organized as your plans may be, it is always best to plan for emergency. Having a contingency plan allows the quick assembly of a business solution which leads to quick recovery from previous oversight.  Large events are sometimes more difficult to plan for with a variety of things to go wrong, but most PR professionals have the type of personality to allow them to think quickly. However, quick recovery still comes from planning.

In keeping with the celebrity theme, one of the greatest saves in event programming that I have witnessed came from a cloud computing conference I attended a few years ago. The program called for former President Bill Clinton to address conference goers in the evening during a San Franciscan winter.  The alternate guest booked for the event was a pop star who had been attending the entire conference, and had planned to speak the next day. Promotional video had been showing all week to promote the singer’s presentation on how his production company uses cloud services. As guaranteed, weather in San Francisco prevented Mr. Clinton from appearing on time. The coordinators quickly shot to a video presentation of the pop star, waiting in the wings, and introduced him. He delivered a well prepared speech about cloud computing and impacting your business process efficiently. 

To conference goers, the impromptu speech was a bonus, and ended in a well-received concert. Whether a previously defined contingency plan or an effective reaction, the event went on without hiccup and kept the constituents of the conference happy. 

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