What’s Involved In Planning A Political Event, Exactly?

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

There’s a topic that I’ve been a little curious about of late. See…in the past, I’ve mentioned that an event management professional can be responsible for a wide range of different affairs, ranging from weddings to trade shows to business conferences to political conventions. I’ve covered all of the former cases on several occasions, but I’ve never really touched the political side of things.

Of course, we’re not going to be talking about politics, per se. Instead, we’re going to look at precisely what’s involved in becoming a political event planner. More specifically, we’ll examine in brief how a political event organizer’s role differs from the position of someone running a conference or trade show. Let’s start right at the beginning – in other words…

How Does One Get Started?

The vast majority of political event managers started out doing something entirely different; a career or volunteer position tied in some way to their political party of choice. They were campaign office volunteers, perhaps; or canvassers, or political aides. The important thing is that they worked in the political climate of their city or region for some time. In so doing, they established a network of political connections – connections which would prove vital in the growth of their career.

Likely as not, they started small. Maybe they organized a simple rally, or helped plan a parade; something to get their feet wet. Eventually, they began to make a name for themselves, and were chosen to plan larger and more varied events for their party.

Not so different from other types of event management, really.

What Kinds Of Political Events Are There?

Aside from their subject matter, political events don’t actually differ all that much from traditional ones. Any type of event could be planned by a political organizer – from a trade show to a fundraising drive to a concert. What’s important is the subject matter, as well as who’s in attendance.

There’s one thing worth mentioning here: as a general rule, political events – particularly party conventions – tend to be a bit larger in scale than generalized ones. More people are likely to show up, and they’re likelier to be passionate about what the people running the show at those events stand for. Such a large scale naturally brings with it a host of unique challenge in crowd control and venue management.

How Is Security Different?

Since political figures tend to very often be highly public, highly polarizing personalities, they’re subject to a battery of risks most other guest speakers and celebrities don’t have to worry about. These range from benign protest pranks – “glitter bombing,” pies, and general heckling – to violent attacks. As a result of this, political event planners tend to approach security in a far different fashion from others in the event industry.

Security at a political event is naturally tighter than at a corporate one, and the security agencies are generally far more specialized; their staff more highly-trained. Dangerous and disruptive guests are dealt with in a much harsher fashion, and may even see charges pressed against them.

How Does The Press Factor In To All This?

Although event management professionals who run trade shows and conventions are certainly no strangers to the press, political events function a little differently. The press is a known presence at these events, and though carefully controlled, they’re nevertheless provided with a number of amenities including press boxes, press risers, and multiple cameras. A political event in which there isn’t space for the press is considered to be a significant gaffe, and will undoubtedly reflect poorly on you as an event planner.

What Role Does Politics Really Play?

Lastly, the most obvious factor that distances political events from corporate and consumer events is that everyone at a political event is serving some form of political agenda. Discussions at such events tend to be far more passionate and intense, and personalities tend to be much stronger than you’d see at other events. Because of this passion, the audience is far likelier to have a direct role in the formation of the event schedule, which is considerably more morphic than you’d see in a corporate affair.