Friday, August 26, 2011

Event Planning 101: How To Mingle With Celebs On The Job

Happy Friday, Edsters!

Are you ready for this? By “this,” I obviously mean your exclusive peek into the world of fame, fortune, and, best of all, features. “This” is the saga of the elite event our magazine recently hosted, the role I played in its planning, and how us interns kept things running smoothly.

And yes, that means we actually got to attend.


Is your curiosity piqued yet, Edsters? Read on to find out what it’s like planning a major event for high-profile guests, and to tell me whether or not I committed an embarrassing gaffe right before everything kicked off.

I should have suspected something was up a few weeks ago, when an intern friend of mine and I saw my EIC walking out of the building with an under-the-radar celeb. It was weird that we didn’t run a piece on her of any sort, but I figured, well, you know, this is my goddess EIC. Of course she just has lunch with celebrities.

Fast-forward a few weeks. My boss called me over to her desk to work on an assignment. When I saw the Excel spreadsheet, I groaned inwardly. Excel spreadsheets mean only one thing: an afternoon of tedium. My boss started explaining my assignment in hushed tones, which I thought was weird, until I realized the words “top secret” were being bandied about, as well as the name of the celeb I’d seen my EIC with a few weeks ago. My assignment was to format the guest list of an event (I hoped for a party, but it was more of a conference) we were hosting in conjunction with said celeb – and I was not to breathe a word. There was even a slight chance the interns would get to go!

When my bosses give me particularly boring but sensitive tasks (i.e. picking up that editor’s visa), they tell me it’s because they know they can really trust me. I sort of think this is just their tricky way of getting me to cheerfully take on whatever unsavory task is chucked my way, but I have to admit, it feels great being trusted with something “top secret.”

So for the next two weeks, I was the go-to girl for this guest list. It was pretty dull stuff – combining separate lists, deleting duplicates, reformatting columns. But the names on the list itself – WOW. Sure, there were celebrities, but there were also editors and writers from major publications, who are basically my celebrities. So my time chained to the Excel spreadsheet wasn’t wholly boring, because I got to fantasize about being in a room with all these people.

And then, after all my hard (okay, hard-ish) work, one of the other interns got invited to the event.

Talk about humiliating. I could rationalize that it was because she’s only there on Thursdays and Fridays, and our boss wanted to ask her in person. But when a day and a half passed and still no word from my boss, I started to panic and beat myself up. What had I done wrong? Did she only trust me to do behind-the-scenes work? Was the other intern that much better than me?

Of course, my boss then proceeded to casually invite me at her desk a few days later, beginning with, “So, I don’t know if I’ve told you about it, but we’re having this event for So-and-So… Oh, right, duh, you’re working on the guest list.” As though I hadn’t been waiting to have this conversation with her for three weeks. So I got my invite, as did the other features interns. Of course, we weren’t there just to enjoy the party. We had elevator buttons to press, guests to direct and packets to hand out. I was utterly fine with that. Pressing buttons for, directing, and handing out packets to FAMOUS guests!

On the day of the event, all the other interns and I showed up in little black dresses and heels, as per our boss’ request. At four, we were scurrying around the mindblowingly beautiful conference room at the top of our building (you should see the view). I was placing flyers and reserved signs that I’d printed out on each individual chair in the room. At 5:30, my fellow interns were stationed at various elevator banks and entryways to direct our guests to the conference room, while I served as my boss’ backup: if she couldn’t make it upstairs in time for the panel to start, I was in charge of handing the guests microphones during the Q&A portion of the event.

What that actually meant was that I was free to fix all the minor glitches that arose behind the scenes right before the event commenced. I printed out extra nametags and ferried them back and forth between the lobby and the top floor of the building. I brought my boss her Chapstick. And, embarrassingly, I tiptoed into the green room where our EIC, all the celebs and their assistants were popping champagne and chatting before the event.

Yes, that’s the gaffe. My boss sent me upstairs with a nametag to deliver to a woman I’d never met before, and all I had to go off was “she’s short and has brown hair.” She added that she would probably be in the green room, which I knew was where all the stars were seated. Great. I walked in and found one of my favorite editors in the back of the room, and I asked her quietly if she knew the girl I was looking for. No dice. I then went up to another editor I knew, who was sitting near our EIC, and whispered her name, expecting her to at least turn around. Nope. She wouldn’t even look at me. I’m not sure if it’s because she didn’t hear me or if she deliberately ignored me because our EIC was talking. Either way, it was so awful, and I slunk right out of there, and found the girl in a completely different room a few minutes later.

What do you think, Edsters? Did I screw up?

Anyway, I kind of just did laps around a few of the floors, because being “backup” means there’s not much to do unless you actually need to back someone up. I tried greeting people for a while. I continued to run the last minute errands my boss texted me about. For a few minutes, I even hid in the coat closet with the piles of magazines my fellow interns had brought up to distribute to the guests when they left. I was greatly relieved when the event started and I no longer had to feel awkward about just standing next to a fellow intern.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, all of us features interns stood together at the doorway, straining our ears to hear the discussion. Then, one of my two bosses saw us standing there and beckoned us all inside. It made me so happy that she cared enough to include us, and I’m so grateful she did tell us to come in, because the conference was so, so interesting. We stayed until the last fifteen minutes, at which point we restationed outside, holding magazines and informational packets to hand out to guests and preparing to direct them to their elevators.

I’m not going to brag or anything, but I totally told the star celebrity of the evening which elevator to go to. (Okay, me and another intern. Whatever.) No big deal.

By half-past eight, at least a dozen of our coworkers had swung by to tell us how chic we looked, and to thank us for helping the event run smoothly. Though I was certainly basking in the glow of recognition, I was also trying to avoid the mind-numbing pain setting in from my five-inch heels. When my boss swung by and told us two girls could go home, part of me wanted to stay longer to brush once more with the rich and famous partygoers (the conference had devolved into cocktails at that point), my feet did really, really hurt, and I hadn’t eaten since noon. When no one would volunteer to go and my boss was on the verge of picking us, I volunteered to leave. Another intern also offered to leave, and together we hobbled back down to the office (when I got there, I promptly removed my heels. Shh!) and gossiped about all of the amazing people we’d seen that night.

And that was it, Edsters. My "Page Six" evening. Have you ever gotten to go to a really cool event for your magazine job? Do you suspect your bosses tell you they trust you only so you’ll submit to busy work without a fight?

Your starstruck Features Intern


  1. Great story! Very interesting

    At which magazine did you work and for how long?


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