On July 18, 2013, I sat amongst a sea of over 750 red t-shirts, eating a Friendly’s ice cream sundae cup and basking in a few moments of relaxation. It was the fifth day of a 100 degree heat wave, but somehow the humidity that clung to the air disappeared as the countdown to achieving the Guinness World Record began. Five months of planning came down to this…a 15 minute ice cream party with over 741 guests needed. The official Guinness World Record adjudicator took the stage and announced that it was official….Friendly’s Ice Cream is NOW the Guinness World Record holder for the World’s Largest Dessert Party.
I let out a sigh of relief.
Planning and executing a Guinness World Record attempt for your client is both an exciting and time consuming project. Throughout the process, there were so many things that my colleagues and I discovered that made the event a valuable learning experience for not only us, but everyone who was involved. From the rental company who increased our tent’s capacity from 840 to 944 two days before the event to the DJ who had to install extra speakers to make sure the entire length of the tent could hear announcements, the planning for the record attempt was largely dependent on managing the logistics but even more so, accounting for all the variables.
If you ever find yourself charged with the task of organizing a Guinness World Record attempt, I wanted to share with you my top 10 tips on how to plan and execute the event…and still maintain your sanity.
1.) Plan early
- We began planning for our July event in February and this provided us with a comfortable amount of time to plot out a budget, research vendors, and order supplies.
- Between 3-5 months before the event should be sufficient.
2.) Establish a goal
- Our goal for the event was to utilize the record attempt to create a buzz for our client in the media as well as amongst the general public.
- Determine whether your goal is to utilize the attempt for publicity, incorporate it into a larger campaign, increase consumer engagement, etc.
3.) Research, research, research
- Guinness World Records has an extensive database of record attempts on-line, but if you contact them directly, they can custom-create a record to fit your goals (per a particular service).
- Make sure you have looked into all potential records before choosing the one you will ultimately attempt to break.
4.) Define what’s achievable
- The record that sounds the most attractive, may not be the best one for your client. Define what is feasible (an event of 800 people eating ice cream vs. the largest ice cream sundae) and what is manageable, before you attempt to break it. This will manage expectations and save you many future headaches.
5.) Determine the best location
- Pick a location for the record attempt that is centrally located and easy for people to get to, somehow tied into the brand and near a major media market. These components will make your event successful for different reasons.
- Whether the public is a part of your attempt or just standing by and watching it take place, they should be excited and feel connected to your attempt. Have the location make sense for your brand, while also being accessible.
6.) Over invite and/or over buy
- If your record is dependent on having a particular number of people in attendance, over invite. Account for at least a 20% drop off rate from those who RSVP’d. If your record is based on quantity of a product, over buy. Make sure that you have more than enough supplies to complete the attempt (…you can always return or donate extra products!). After all the planning, the worst thing that could happen is not breaking the record due to a circumstance that you could have controlled.
7.) Plan for the weather
- Whether your event is slated to be held indoors or outdoors, plan ahead. Tents can provide shelter from inclement weather conditions, but depending on the time of year, also make sure electricity, cords, fans/AC are and heat are taken into consideration.
8.) Create a logistics sheet and make sure EVERYONE has a copy
- Logistics are key in the execution of the attempt. Create a flow of events that outlines the day before the event and the day of the event. This should include the time your vendors, staffers, public, etc. are arriving on-site, who will responsible for each aspect of the event and how the event will actually run.
- Ask everyone who is playing a role to provide a cell phone for the document to ensure that everyone involved can be easily reached. Distribute the logistics sheet to every vendor and staffer several days prior to the event.
9.) Overstaff and define roles
- When it comes to a Guinness World Record attempt, you can never have too many helping hands. Invite more staffers than you may actually need to ensure that you have all hands on deck for the execution of the event. Clearly assign roles and tasks, including several people, who will be in the role of a “floater”. Floaters will oversee the event, jumping into roles where extra help is needed. Overstaffing the attempt will help to make sure everything goes smoothly.
10.) Prepare your public relations plan in advance
- In order to maximize exposure for your (hopefully) successful attempt, draft your press release and media materials before you actually break the record. You should have this release ready to distribute as soon as you break the record. Before hitting send or using a wire service to send it, add in any last minute details from the event, such as record numbers, etc.