How to Accommodate Media at a Sold-Out Event

Miami's Wine, Women & Shoes benefit created a media lounge to preserve precious space in the main ballroom.

By Beth Kormanik February 19, 2014, 7:15 AM EST

The fashion show of looks from Neiman Marcus Coral Gables was shown on two screens in the media lounge.

Photo: Yamila Lomba/World Red Eye

The Miami Children's Hospital Foundation's Wine, Women & Shoes event sold out within a month, giving the popular benefit an enviable problem: what to do with the media covering the event.

Planners did not have room to set aside a table for the luncheon and fashion show held at the Coral Gables Country Club on February 6—nor did they want to.

“We didn't want to reserve tables for media when we could sell them for the hospital,” said Lisbet Fernandez-Vina, the foundation's director of external affairs. “So how do we treat our media with the honor they deserve for covering our event? We wanted to make sure the media were welcome and understood our cause.”

The solution was to invite the 15 or so reporters, bloggers, and TV news crews to a nearby room, dubbed the V.I.P. Media Lounge. Prior to the show, the press could mingle with the guests at a reception, which included a boutique marketplace and a silent auction. But when the luncheon started, media members were ushered to a smaller room set up with two screens so they could watch the program. The lounge had identical floral arrangements as the main event and offered a selection of hors d'oeuvres rather than a full meal. Reporters also could use the space to conduct interviews.

Fernandez-Vina said the effort did not add much to the event budget since the room was part of the venue rental fee and planners had already arranged for the live camera feeds for screens in the main space.

“It really solved the problem,” Fernandez-Vina said. “It was more being creative with what we had in our hands.”

The foundation raised nearly $500,000, a record high for the event.

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