Special Events

The Last Word: Connie Valvano Has the Last Word

As vice president of special events for Fox Family Worldwide advertising sales, Connie Valvano believes in the power of the Power Rangers and Angela Anaconda-all characters on television shows broadcast by the company's cable networks. She uses these popular characters at corporate events to boost awareness of the family-oriented channels.

>From her office in Virginia Beach, Va., she produces up to 50 events >yearly with budgets ranging from $25,000 to as much as $500,000. Her >territory covers her company's sales offices in New York, Los Angeles, >Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit.

Though a high-profile planner today, Valvano got her start with personal projects. When her two sons, Ryan and Matt, were younger, she would get involved with committees to work on end-of-year events for their swim and baseball teams.

Back in those days, Valvano co-owned an interior design firm. "When we took on commercial accounts for builders, they would ask me to put together their grand openings in addition to providing interior design."

And her work got noticed. Soon she had a public relations position with Volvo of North America in Virginia Beach. She took charge of the grand openings of all Volvo dealerships on the East Coast.

She began planning corporate events about five years ago when she took a job with the Family Channel. In 1998, it became Fox Family Channel-a division of Fox Family Worldwide.

Valvano plans events to entertain media buyers, advertisers and supporters of Fox Family Worldwide, which includes Fox Family Channel, Fox Kids Network, "Fox Kids" magazine, "Fox Family Countdown" radio show, Fox Kids Webnet (a Web site debuting this month), girlzChannel and boyzChannel.

Her workload also includes producing events to promote and support on-air promotions, such as the Big Kahuna Father's Day promotion she planned last year. Kids could enter their dads to be honored on Father's Day and to win a trip to Hawaii for the entire family.

"That promotion was extremely successful and resulted in fostering loyal viewership," she says. "I've received many letters from families who won the trip stating their support and appreciation for the networks' ongoing commitment in providing quality family entertainment."

Valvano says corporate events are becoming "more high-tech, with high-profile celebrity performances in demand to attract the target invitees. This requires us to come up with more creative aspects at each event, starting with the invitation."

For example, to invite guests to an ice skating event at Rockefeller Center in New York, she sent cans of hot chocolate mix as invitations. Information about the event was printed on each label.

Valvano credits her success to the work ethic she learned from her father, James Valvano. She also credits Rick Sirvaitis, president of Fox Family Worldwide advertising sales, for encouraging her to pursue a degree in event production. "He has empowered me to be the best I can be and allowed me to escalate my creativity-while staying within budget, of course."

Fox Family Channel 2877 Guardian Lane Virginia Beach, VA 23450 E-mail: [email protected] Web site: www.foxfamilychannel.com

DO IT FOR THE TEAM

Teamwork is essential in staging great events. As a leader you must give definitive direction to each team member. The skill set enabling you to make the best on-the-spot critical decisions will develop with the number of years' experience you have in this industry."

GET A REPUTATION

In this business, your reputation precedes you. Maintain an ethical, professional reputation for yourself, and your company will profit in every event contract you negotiate."

KEEP LAUGHING

Maintain a terrific sense of humor. You always have to be prepared for something major to go wrong. Don't look at it as a crisis but as a challenge. You need to keep a sense of humor so you can keep your head on and turn the problem into a positive. You are always learning from your crises. That leads to longevity and to being a creative special events producer."

NETWORK IT

Continue to network and resource new contacts within every arena of event producing-venue directors, photographers, caterers, rental companies, talent managers-while maintaining long-term relationships with those you have worked with."

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