Interviews with Planners - Jake Clements
Jake Clements has a strong background in direct marketing solutions and event planning. He has organized events for the Salvation Army, including a musical “Rock the Red Kettle” fundraiser hosted by Cory Morrow that succeeded in raising $230,000 for the Austin Area Command, becoming the only Rock the Red Kettle event to generate positive fundraising. He also organized a “Doing the Most Good” luncheon for the organization, developing a concept that walked the audience through a real-life story of someone who went through the Salvation Army’s program, emerging as a successful and contributing member of the community. Combined with a documentary and music by local artists, the event raised another $230,000 for the Salvation Army.
Other recent notable events Jake organized include Austin Monthly’s “Singles in the City” party, their largest annual event, and the Texas Firearms Festival, the largest firearms festival in North America.
Prior to Jake joining Crosswind he worked as a media buyer and account executive, and then joined Time Warner Cable Media to develop and drive the formation of the company’s Direct Marketing Solutions division. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Midwestern State University’s AACSB-accredited Dillard College of Business Administration, which is among the elite 5 percent of business programs worldwide to receive accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International, providing business training of the highest caliber.
What is the best advice you have ever received as a planner?
I have been fortunate to learn from some great people, both in and out of the events industry, who have been instrumental in shaping my career. Two pieces of counsel that have served me well are one, have a great team; and two, regardless of how great your plan is, you will always encounter a challenge or issue requiring you to think on your feet to solve it.
What is the most unique location you have ever planned an event at? What was great, what was challenging?
The most unique location would have to be an outdoor gun range for the Texas Firearms Festival, which is the largest firearms festival in North America. Any time firearms are involved, safety is the number one concern, so the most challenging aspect was coordinating all of the moving parts while setting up the event to ensure 100 percent safety – anything less than that is simply not acceptable. Hiring the right team of experts make this possible and we have had three years of perfect safety records.
Another challenge was learning to light up a gun range safely enough to fire fully automatic weapons for a nighttime portion of the event. We required an extraordinary amount of equipment, testing and power to do that, while making sure it was all out of harm’s way. That nighttime event turned out great and was a big hit with the audience.
What advice would you give to someone entering the business today?
I would offer the same advice I was given: The event-planning industry is highly competitive, but if you hire the right team, can think on your feet, stay organized and bust your butt every day, it can be a fun career. No two days are the same.
What do you see as the most challenging aspect of being a planner, and how do you overcome that challenge?
Being an event planner is full of challenges and rewards, and there is usually not just one distinct element that makes planning any event a challenge – it can be a combination of the client, venue, vendors and so on. What I see most often with planners is they get overwhelmed by everything. This is understandable; everything moves quickly and there are so many diverse components. It is important to keep a level head, be organized and most importantly, trust yourself and the team you built.
How do you think our industry will evolve in the next five years?
Technology will be the biggest factor in my opinion. I think we are going to see more and more technology integrated into events – everything from virtual reality and augmented reality, to social sharing technology. The purpose will be to take the offline experience online, and an online experience to a real-world setting.
What makes you successful as a planner?
It takes a team to put on an event so without a doubt, my ability to build a great team. Then seeing the bigger picture of how all of the pieces fit together – operations, marketing, logistics and so forth. Also, my marketing background and having a marketing agency behind me are big assets.
In your opinion, what is the best and worst industry trend of the year?
I love how technology is being integrated into events and both expect and hope it will continue. The worst trend I am seeing is a lack of forward thinking; people and brands are afraid to step outside the boxes they’ve created around themselves and shape their events into truly unique experiences.
What is the best industry book that has helped you as a planner?
I learn best from being hands on and talking with people, so I encourage current and aspiring planners to network: talk, listen and observe to learn.