Social Marketing Events Planning

Over the past thirty years I have been involved with many organizations and have consistently pushed for them to increase their connection to helping the community. Years ago my great grandmother said that in order to inherit anything from her estate that we had to work our way up doing charitable things in the community.  I worked as a candy stripper in hospitals, then as a volunteer stuffing envelopes, then I worked on events, and finally I began running them. She pushed us to become active inside of the organizations so I have always moved to leadership positions where I could do the most to affect change.

As the largest off premise caterer in Western New York, I have literally done thousands of events.  They ranged from small events with 200 attendees to events where the number exceeded 5,000.  I also like to ask for sponsorship support and to arrange for partnerships.  Not everyone can ask these tough questions or reach out to total strangers and suggest a partnership for a first time event. This talent must be present for an event to be successful.

When ArtPark in Lewiston , New York  hired me to reimage them I decided that the Park needed to come to the fore as the theater had always taken the top billing. With that in mind I set a goal to get ArtPark nationally recognized as a major bird sanctuary.  I planned events around a yearlong effort that culminated in a partnering of the Roger Tory Peterson Museum, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Wildlife Foundation, and many local foundations and private corporate clients. We raised millions of dollars and saved a national treasure in perpetuity.

The Erie County Museum of Science had just lost their development director and they needed a major fundraiser as well as a means to drive national visitation. I decided to ignite a small group of women volunteers who were all quite elderly at the time and who had been the Museum’s ardent supporters for years. They had once done massive parties and over the years had just lost some sparkle when the Museum hired a development director. I gave them a goal of doing an international horticultural conference around the world renowned Marchand collection and the fact that the Museum had the largest herbarium East of the Mississippi. I cajoled a friend and fellow botanical artist, Carol Wooden, to do an original painting and donate it to the Museum so we could use it to identify our conference. She also donated several hundred prints so we could give them as gifts to corporate and private sponsors. As a long time member of APGA, I asked many of my very well known botanical garden directors and editors of famous garden magazines to be the speakers. I set up an Excel file for everything. We had a giant map where we tracked with push pins all of the people who began to register for the conference. They ultimately came from every state and many from Europe. We had companies like Lyric Bird Seed and HSBC, as major corporate sponsors. We exceeded the Museum’s expectations by raising a net of $120,000.00 with over 600 attendees for the two day event. We partnered with the local Ikebana Society who did a show and a tea ceremony. Carol Wooden produced a national show of botanical illustrators that stayed on view for a month after the event. We had a contest where local florists did massive arrangements and vied for the first place award. The publicity was amazing. However, the best part was seeing the Woman’s Committee once again get the spotlight and be recognized as still extremely valuable to the Museum.

For Rotary’s Cold War Healing event, Retired Brigadier General Carl Reddel (Executive Director of the Eisenhower Memorial) asked me to pull off a major international event just after 9/11 that would get mostly Russians to come to Washington, D.C. for a two day conference on how to improve the health in Russia—oh, and it would take place in February.  I designed the conference logo, organized and coordinated the effort. Carl got the speakers, helped with the funding and named our committee the Tiger Team. We pulled off the event with flying colors. I made lapel pins of the logo, all of the corporate identity, booked all of the transportation, acquired most of the sponsorship funding to pay for the speakers, fly them in and house them. We developed a huge database of people that might be interested in attending the conference and ultimately attracted 800 people to the two day event.

 

I do the same thing for my clients.  For example, Hickok Cole Architects had an enchanting idea to open their office up to friends and family and to other architects along with clients for a night of camaraderie and an Art Night where employees and a few other local artists could display and sell their work. They had a young woman who worked at the Corcoran curate the show. It matched their theme: “Make a little money and have a little fun.”  I saw it as a great opportunity to benefit the community and become a major fund raiser for the Washington Project for the Arts. It would propel Hickok Cole into a place where they would be aligned with great art and by association: great design. Over the past five years the event has become a well recognized art event in Washington, DC garnering over $80,000.00 last year in one of the worst economic slumps in the real estate industry. Mike Hickok thought of the Art Angels and I set about bringing in the sponsorships. (You’ll see the list consists of WinSpin CIC, Inc. current and past clients, myself, and personal friends along with some of Mike Hickok’s.)  I like to firm up the Angel’s well before the event. I work closely with Hickok Cole’s graphic designer, Sarah Barr, on the concept and provide art direction as well as manage the event. The firm has a very collaborative approach to everything they do, so many of the most brilliant additions come from their employees and, of course, the principals, Mike Hickok and Yolanda Cole. We’ve won many awards for the collateral material and have written articles and given speaking engagements about the evening.  The event gets national media attention as well as a copious amount of local press.

I am known for my super detailed Excel charts and have switched from being called the Butter Queen in catering to the Excel Queen.  I have always done massive charts and tracking sheets with Excel as it fits my organizational perfectionism. Return on investment can only come from this kind of effort. Additionally, lessons learned are a key factor that must occur in order to improve.

There are a few factors to why the events I produce succeed and then do not continue after I leave. I bring passion and the sincere desire to do something good for the community and by association my clients.  I am a stickler for attention to detail. I thank people with written notes and not just once –all year long—and years after even if they haven’t supported the event recently. People who support the events I do know that I am genuinely grateful and that there will be some kind of networking advantage to them for participating. I always made sure that all events I run have win-win component for everyone.

The events I direct have another signature that is less quantifiable. They possess a kind of sophistication. That is to say that everything that’s produced never looks cheap and always makes people feel afterwards like they’d like to return and have the experience all over again.

“How you spend the dollar in your pocket can say as much about you as what you eat and wear”
Ali Hewson (U2’s Bono’s wife)

Art Night 2013
Client: Hickok Cole
Concept and Art Direction: Marilynn Mendell
Graphic Production and Design: Noel Carson
Frame Concept: Kate Maxwell


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Art Night 2012
Client: Hickok Cole Architects
Washington, DC
Concept and Art Direction: Marilynn Mendell


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Art Night 2011
Client: Hickok Cole Architects
Washington, DC
Concept and Art Direction: Marilynn Mendell


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Art Night 2010
Client: Hickok Cole Architects
Washington, DC
Concept and Art Direction: Marilynn Mendell


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Art Night 2009
Client: Hickok Cole Architects
Washington, DC


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Art Night
Client: Hickok Cole Architects
Washington, DC


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Cold War Healing Conference
Client: Washington, DC Rotary
Washington, DC

The International Marchand Conference
Client: Erie County Museum of Science
Buffalo, New York


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Buffalo Museum of Science,
Buffalo, New York
Challenge: Take an unknown science museum with three potentially key treasures and build an internationally recognized conference that would create a major revenue source.
Graphic Design: Joan Manias - Article 2




Hickok Cole Architects' 2012 Art Night: Frederick Ognibene, board member, Washington Project for the Arts; Marilynn Mendell, president of WinSpin CIC Inc.; Michael Hickok, principal at Hickok Cole Architects; Lisa Gold, excutive director of Washington Project for the Arts; Judy Sherman, proprietor, j. fine art; and Yolanda Cole, senior principal at Hickok Cole Architects.




Hickok Cole Architects’ 2010 Art Night: Enrique Bellini, KCCT Architects; Bill Norton, Northwestern Mutual; Marilynn Mendell, WinSpin CIC, Inc.; Amy Cuddy, KCCCT Architects




Hickok Cole Architects’ 2010 Art Night: Matthew Jemal, Douglas Development; Marilynn Mendell, WinSpin CIC, Inc.; Norman Jemal, Douglas Development




Cindy Allen, editor–in-chief, Interior Design Magazine  

Truly a kind and generous person herself thanks WinSpin CIC

Interior Design February 2011


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E-mail: mmendell@winspincic.com