A community get together doesn’t just happen overnight, it takes some great people and a lot of hard work to get the events running smoothly. So at this panel at RTX 2012 they had the event coordinators of some of the larger RvB events across the world such as RvBTO (Red vs. Blue Toronto), RvB CanWest (Red vs. Blue Canada West), RTOZ (Roo Teeth Australia), RT Philly (Rooster Teeth Philadelphia), and of course RTX (Rooster Teeth Expo). To represent these events we had Barbara Dunkelman who is a part of RvBTO and RTX, Jozef Garcia who is a part of RvBTO, Dominic Dobrzensky who is a part of RvB CanWest and also organizes SideQuest here at RTX, Caiti Ward who is a part of RTOZ, and Jack Edathil who is a part of RT Philly. Everyone had their own stories about their respective events and how it all came to be.
Back in 2004 there were some guys who were basically like hey let’s get together and drink and watch all of Red vs. Blue. A pretty simple idea, but that is all that it takes to start up something cool. Also 2004 is pretty early into the Red vs. Blue life and so this event was really the first real community event that got organized. Recently they had about 200 attendees at their last summer event.
She attended RvBTO in 2005 at the age of 16 and met a whole bunch of cool people and then in 2008 she actually got involved with it. Now this year she is organizing RTX.
RT Philly started from RvBTO and to raise money for this event he did a kickstarter which allowed him to raise money to do the event after failing during the first attempt to get it going.
She first heard about a different RT event going on in Melvin, Australia; however, whenever she was about to attend she learned that they had cancelled the event. This then lead to her thinking that why couldn’t she just organize one herself instead of waiting around for one to happen. The very first RTOZ was only about 20 people, but still a success.
What roles are essential to making the event?
You definitely need to get people who know what they want to do, otherwise it will get messy in the organization process. A key member is the leader of the group who has to have focus and see the end goal and be able to guide others down that path. It also doesn’t hurt to have someone who happens to know a lot of people and have many connections. Having somebody serve as a community liaison so that they may communicate between you, the event organizer, and the community that attends or prospective attendees. If you aren’t very good at dealing with money, then you definitely need someone to handle all the financial business as well. They need to be someone who can be level headed and be able to say no every once and a while. Another key role is having somebody to manage your volunteers as they may not know everything going on it will be essential to keep them on the same page. Probably one of the most important things, especially in a beginning event such as RTOZ, is to have someone who knows how to grab people’s attention in a variety of ways. However, hands down the most important factor in any role is pure passion, they need to love everything about the event and the community.
Other facts on providing a successful community event
-How do you find out what you are good at doing for a community event? Volunteer work is the best way to figure that out without knowing what you are best suited for. Have them try different things and see what they enjoy the most and what they are good at doing.
-You definitely need people to attend the event.
-Sponsorship is a nice thing to have, it lightens the load on paying for the event or having to raise money for it.
-What is the best way to get people to attend? You pretty much have to do everything you possibly can. Talk about it across all social media networks, but most importantly start off talking about it at the niche community. Talking up an event about something you know a group of people are already actively interested in is the best thing for you to get those initial people. Also having a real website for the event is very helpful and will definitely allow for exhibitors or sponsors, as well as potential attendees, to view your event properly and see that you’re serious.
-In terms of Rooster Teeth events, there will be a new way to figure out what events are going on and keep them more connected. There will now be a community page on the Rooster Teeth website so that people can be better informed about all events going on in the community. This task is being taken on by Barbara.
-Piggy backing off of other large expos can be useful. This especially helps in the fact that people from out of town will already be at an event in the area and so if your event is following it immediately then those people will be able to stay in town for your event as well versus having to travel back to the same area later.
-The biggest problem that most of these community members faced while setting up the event dealt with Paypal and expecting things to go smoothly with it handling the money. A couple other issues that they dealt with include not having too many local attendees. As it may sound silly, but usually people in the city of the event don’t attend events there. So like what RTX did, they got the Austin community involved and advertised it a lot so they Austin talent as exhibitors and Austin residents as attendees. Running out of ideas to do is common and something you should avoid. In the case of RvBTO where they began only watching the movies and drinking, Jozef came across the issue of not knowing what else they can do at a community event. Dominic stated that having a website up for the event is sometimes the hard part, but using website tools or providers such as WordPress can be very helpful. Also something that is key is deciding the age group you wish to get at the event. For example having a lot of alcohol or alcohol related events and then trying to get people under 21 to attend may cause many issues.
-How do you expand your events? Again the emphasis on going local with the event is important as they will always be there to attend and will draw in others to see what your city has to offer. Marketing your event is very important as well. How else will they know that your event even exists if you don’t try and tell people about it? Having T-Shirts for sale or to give away is extremely important as well. While it may sound a little superficial, but people wear T-Shirts all the time and if they see your event on a T-Shirt they may inquire about it and you may have another attendee next year. Probably the most important thing is word of mouth. This is also something you don’t have too much control over so you pretty much have to just blow people away and hope they tell people about it.
-How does event work look on resumes? Well Barbara is probably the best person to look at. After getting involved with RT events in 2008 she stuck with it and is now the community manager for Rooster Teeth Productions and running RTX with 4000 attendees. Doing any kind of event work shows that you have a lot of passion, that you have hands-on experience in the field, and that you gain experience in public speaking. Which are all valuable and desirable skills to have in any job.