Raising the profile of social enterprise through event management

4 Feb 2020

3 people looking at a stall displaying art work at the Plymouth Social Enterprise Festival 2019

Every November Plymouth Social Enterprise Network runs a week-long festival to support and celebrate social enterprise in the city. 2019 was its tenth anniversary where organisations across Plymouth ran 28 events creating the biggest festival to date. It brought people together to explore ways of creating positive change around the climate crisis.

This festival, and events like it, are key tools for raising the profile of social enterprise. They encourage conversations around creating an economy that supports economic and social growth. The festival offered opportunities to network, collaborate, and learn. Local and national organisations ran workshops on crowdfunding, public relations, media content creation, and workplace wellness. A flagship event saw industry experts giving entrepreneurs from across the country an insight to making practical and achievable change for a zero carbon economy.

SSE Dartington has strong ties with Plymouth enterprises and was very proud to be sponsors of the festival in 2019. The Accelerating Women’s Enterprise team also hosted an event opening up a dialogue around gender and how it affects the way we run businesses.

This is the second citywide event I’ve planned during my five years working alongside social entrepreneurs. And every event provides more ways to improve, grow and strengthen. As an organiser for the festival my five key takeaways and tips are:

Spark joy – for yourself, and for your audience

Big festivals are serious business and hard work but you need to make sure there’s joy in what you do. Find innovative ways to reach new audiences and make it something people want to come to.

Communication is everything

I don’t just mean advertising – although that is important. Any challenge can be overcome if you have a good dialogue with the people you’re working with. It also goes a long way to making people feel appreciated and building good relationships for future events.

Be reactive

Be present and enjoy your events but don’t forget to record and share them! Post live, take photos, get quotes, make a hashtag and ask people to use it when they tweet. You’d be surprised how much extra press and support you can gather.

Keep learning and improving

Not every event will be a success but don’t let that put you off trying again. It simply means you didn’t find your market for this one. There are a lots of people interested in what you’re offering. Think about how to reach them and use that to inform your next set of promotion.

Don’t breathe out just yet!

You need to prepare for some hard work post-event! Whether you host a big festival or a single event, there is still a huge chunk of work waiting to be done: follow-ups with attendees and hosts, gathering feedback, press releases, uploading photos, social media, email enquiries and more.

Being a social entrepreneur can feel like every moment is already packed with obligations but moving out of the everyday and putting some of your energy into a real buzz-worthy event can have a huge impact on your own momentum by opening up new opportunities and helping you reach different audiences. All the while raising the profile of social enterprise! Hopefully we’ll see a few of you for the next festival from the 16th – 22nd November 2020 – keep your eyes peeled for more info coming soon.

By Jessica Holliland, partnership development associate and communications manager at SSE Dartington