Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We've Moved!

The One Smooth Stone blog has moved! Please visit us at

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

One Smooth Stone

Virtual Event Webinar: Success with Less

brought to you in partnership with
hinton + grusich
Date: Friday, July 9
Time: 11am (pacific), noon (mountain), 1pm (central), 2pm (eastern)
Duration: 60 minutes
Cost: None

Can’t make it? It’s available for download the Tuesday morning following the event

Success with Less
We are all being asked to make do with “less”…time, money and resources. In this webinar, we’ll share practical ways to create successful events from a strategic and management perspective, as well as execution in spite of having “less” in which to work.

Our facilitators
Mark Ledogar
Vice President, One Smooth Stone

During his eleven years of event marketing experience with the world’s largest association management firm, Mark’s focus was quite diverse, including everything from logistics management, registration, and attendance promotion to tradeshow operations and sales, advertising, and sponsorship development. While Director of The Convention & Trade Show Division at Smith, Bucklin, & Associates, Mark served as General Manager and Show Director of one of the 200 largest tradeshows in the country, as well as oversaw a team of 75 event planners who managed over 600 events annually.

At One Smooth Stone, Mark has leverages his experience and strengths to manage complex events, simultaneously overseeing general session production, rehearsals, breakouts and overall logistics, venue negotiations and event budgeting. He has a keen ability to put a strong team together and provide solid directions and oversight. Mark’s ability to combine detailed project management with high-level strategy and message consultation provdies unique value to our firm and our clients.

Marian Long
Meeting Planner AADE
Marian has been a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) for over 23 years with a commitment to operational excellence and world class customer service. As the Director of Meetings for the American Association of Diabetes Educators, she and her team produce and execute the Annual Meeting and Tradeshow in cities throughout the US for approximately 6,000 participants and 250 Exhibitors. They also manage over 40 regional educational meetings for Diabetes Educators worldwide. Formerly, Senior Marketing Manager for Allstate Financial, Marian built and directed the Sales Meeting and Support Department to facilitate planning of client and executive meetings, VIP events, and seminars. She created marketing tools, identified sponsorship partners, and tracked metrics on all events and initiations. She also managed creative, production, agency management and hired and mentored staff. Marian’s experience in the industry has a lso included Branch Manager for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Executive Director at Smith Bucklin & Associates, Inc. and an Operations Director for Westside Holdings, LLC.

Reserve your complimentary webinar seat at:

Please feel free to pass along the invitation.

hinton + grusich
Founded in 1986, hinton+grusich is a national sales organization that represents upscale hotels, destinations and hospitality suppliers that serve the meetings industry. Offering a cost-free approach to finding the right hotel, the firm creates efficiency and buying power for professionals who plan meetings through one point-of-contact. Its team of experts provides timely pricing and availability information, first-hand destination feedback, and relevant insight for meeting professionals nationwide. hinton+grusich represents over 150 upscale, primarily independent hotels, six convention bureaus, and seven industry partners within their “partners+” collection. Headquartered in Chicago, the firm offers four regional offices and nine national sales managers furnishing regional and market-specific support to meeting professionals.

One Smooth Stone
As an event and communication agency, we help build relationships critical to the success of your business through exceptionally crafted programs and events….whether for physical or virtual events. With 14+ years across a variety of industries, our experience crafting events for companies in transition lets us confidently and patiently lead you through a proven process to create events that address specific business outcomes.

Friday, June 25, 2010

One Short Post - Summer in Chicago!

This post is the first in a monthly series called "One Short Post". Each month, a new question will be posed to the members of the One Smooth Stone team. We encourage you to participate and post your own response to each month's question!

It is officially summer in Chicago! And One Smooth Stone is celebrating 15 years of excellent work and great summer weather! Check out what the Stonies are doing for fun (when they aren’t working!).

Then, please post YOUR favorite summer activity.

Kevin: “Walking 18 holes of golf and then remembering all the putts that almost went in, grillin’ and chillin’ on the patio, and making smores around the fire pit!”

Gary: “Having an afternoon to ride my bike and not returning to my backyard until the moon is out.”

Brad: “Golfing! Kevin and I recently won our local Stonebridge Tournament, an accomplishment we are very proud of!”

Kimberly: “Cycling for miles on rural, well paved roads! Grilling dinner, a glass of Sangria and great friends on our back patio tops off the day.”

Mark: “Participating in the annual Microbrew Review in my hometown of Oak Park, IL benefiting Seven Generations Ahead. Over 50 microbrews on tap for an entire afternoon!”

Steve: “Enjoying dinners out on the deck with family.”

Ken: “Hanging out with the kids…anytime, anywhere, doing anything!”

Stephanie: “Spending the day at the Brookfield Zoo with my girls."

Bethany: “Going cycling with my husband. We are training for our first 100-mile bike ride and we’re enjoying getting out on the road this summer.”

Emily: “Attending concerts with friends at Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park. We set up blankets and enjoy cheese, wine, great music and the beautiful summer weather.”

Barb: “Being outdoors and getting together with family and friends in the backyard, at festivals and at parties.”

Megan: “Going down to the city and walking around by the lake.”

Sandy: “Riding my bicycle to Brookfield Zoo and back with my husband.”

Lisa: “Having picnics in the parkway with my kids.”

Joanne: “Having friends and family over and enjoying our pool on a hot summer day while sipping ice cold lemonade.”

Andrea: “Taking late night bike rides with friends through Chicago…and ice cream! Mint chocolate chip, to be specific.”

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How do you get started with virtual events?

You knew this day would come. Waiting for you in your inbox this morning was an email from your CEO. She had read about virtual events in a business publication and wants to know more about the company’s virtual event strategy. She would like to explore how it would increase the visibility and participation of customer events.

If this hasn’t happened yet, it is sure to come…and when it happens, be prepared. Virtual events have exploded as a result of the current economic realities combined with significant technological improvements. Not sure how to prepare or where to begin? Here are 5 quick tips to get you started on your first virtual event.

1. Develop Your Strategy First
Successful virtual event planning begins with clear objectives and a strategy. The internal discussion should start with your methodology…

  • What marketing or communication problem are you trying to solve, and is a virtual event the right vehicle with which to solve it?
  • Is your goal to generate demand or leads for your organization’s products and services? Or are you trying to generate revenue, i.e., sell sponsorships and booths to industry vendors or channel partners? Or are you seeking an economical alternative for sales training and communication?
  • What is your budget and expected ROI?

The answers to all of these questions will shape the size, scope and strategy of your virtual event.

2. Target your Audience
It is critical to focus on the audience you are trying to reach. During the development process, identify and segment your target audience including, but not limited to, demographics and psycho¬graphics. What are your audience’s pain points, needs and values? Also, consider whether the audience is equipped for a virtual experience. If your target audience isn’t prepared, what educational information and tools can be provided via email or video, prior to the virtual experience?

3. Have the Proper Staffing
A virtual event requires just as much thought, planning and effort as a physical event. Event managers and marketers still need to develop relevant content, book keynote and session speakers, sell sponsorships and floor space, and manage booth staff. The audience still needs to be targeted, acquired and managed; interactions need to be considered and designed, feedback gathered and analyzed. So the question to ask yourself before you start is…Do you have the right staff for marketing, content development, sales and event management? Assign staff specifically to the virtual event much like you would a physical one to ensure that the event runs smoothly and the audience and exhibitors are pleased with the experience.

4. Executive Support
In order to be successful, C-level executives within your organization must understand the value and effectiveness of virtual events. Remember that senior management will likely have to sign off on budgets and technology requests. Are they convinced of the need for virtual events as part of your marketing and communication mix or do they remain skeptical?

Comprehensive data analysis and careful tracking of event ROI is often paramount to secure senior executive buy-in. As you begin the RFP process with virtual event platform providers, ask prospective partners for the potential cost savings and incremental revenue that their platforms can help your organization realize. Compare them to your existing event marketing budget results. Tangible results are what counts here, especially during this time of increased belt tightening.

5. Start Small
Instead of launching a fully-baked hybrid event alongside your large annual conference, consider a smaller program for your first try. Like any new program, there are sure to be learnings from your first virtual event that you will want to apply to your more high-profile, large-scale events. After one successful virtual event, your confidence will increase significantly and you will be better prepared the next time around.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Emily Miller wins Tomorrow's Leader Award

The MPI Chicago Area Chapter bestowed its annual awards at LEAP (Leadership, Education & Awards Program) on April 26th. Emily Miller was presented with the Tomorrow's Leader Award and recognized for her outstanding work on the Leadership Development committee. As Vice Chair of the committee for 2009 - 2010, Emily has worked closely with her committee members to plan and execute events that equipped and motivated chapter leaders and recruited new committee volunteers. Emily also led the charge in developing and managing new monthly volunteer webinars. Next year, Emily will step up to lead the Leadership Development committee, serving as the team's Co-Chair.

Congratulations, Emily!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bethany Johnson is named Volunteer of the Month for MPI’s Chicago Chapter

The Chicago Chapter of MPI (Meeting Professionals International) recently named One Smooth Stone Associate Producer Bethany Johnson “Volunteer of the Month” in April for her work on the chapter’s Leadership, Education and Awards Program on April 26th. LEAP, modeled after the famous TED conference (, brought together chapter members for a day of education and awards at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. Bethany served as one of the planning committee’s Vice Chairs, as well as producer for the ballroom that hosted the event’s breakfast, lunch and closing reception.

As volunteer of the month, Bethany will be featured in MPI-CAC’s monthly email newsletter, Skyline, and its quarterly print publication, News & Views. Congratulations, Bethany!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Results Rule Video Training

In 2006, One Smooth Stone was highlighted in the business strategy book Results Rule!: Build a Culture That Blows the Competition Away, written by author and trainer Randy Pennington. Results Rule! provides strategies and concepts to create a culture that sets your organization apart in a marketplace where products and services are increasingly seen as being interchangeable.

Randy has now released a valuable business training package that takes the content from his book and kicks it up a notch, reinforcing it with additional training material. One Smooth Stone is again featured in Randy's program, but this time in video format featuring Executive Vice President Gary Vlk.

Results Rule!® Video Training Program

The heroes in every marketplace are defined by their results, and the leader's job is to create and sustain a culture that consistently shouts Results Rule! Send the Results Rule! message to your organization in a new, entertaining, and economical way. This video training program allows you to carry the insights from Randy's award-winning book throughout your organization.

The training package includes the following:

  • DVD with 43 minutes of video that support the six choices successful organizations make to consistently deliver results. The DVD can be used in a variety of training formats and programs.
  • Participant manual for duplication by you. The participant materials are designed to support a single half-day program or multiple sessions of up to seven hours in length.
  • Leaders guide and PowerPoint slides for the program to allow you to teach everything yourself.
  • Results Rule! poster for duplication.
  • One copy of the Results Rule! book

For more information about the Results Rule! training program, please visit