Category Archives: Sponsorship

Rotary Club of Reno Launches Biggest Little Bulb Project

White Hot Tulips

Wish List: White Hot Tulips

I am a proud member of the Rotary Club of Reno. Over the last year our club has partnered with a few organizations to taken on the Sculpture Garden in Bicentennial Park as a fellowship project. We have helped with the Sculpture Garden and with nurturing the gardens around the sculptures.

Now that fall is on the horizon we have one thing on our mind flower bulbs for the garden. Below is the press release I wrote for the project. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much response from our press release because of hurricanes, wild fires, and Burning Man. We will probably send another press release when the news cycle slows down.

Baby Boomers

Wish List: Baby Boomer Daffodils

Rotary Club of Reno Launches Biggest Little Bulb Project

The Rotary Club of Reno launched the Biggest Little Bulb Project this week to gather donations for 15,000 spring bulb flowers that will be planted this fall in the Sculpture Garden in Bicentennial Park and along Riverside Drive in downtown Reno.

Merry Go Round Flowers

Wish List: Merry Go Round Bulbs

The Sculpture Garden in Bicentennial Park has become a favorite destination for locals and tourists. The Reno Arts and Culture Commission partnered with Rotary Club of Reno to establish the sculpture garden, which features a rotating outdoor exhibition that is a part of Reno’s growing art scene. The park also features beautiful gardens, maintained by Rotarian volunteers, the city and KTMB. Rotarians have been working hard to nurture the garden and are now working on fall planting.

Fall is the best time to plant bulbs in the Reno-Sparks area and the Rotary Club is getting a jump start on donations for the Biggest Little Bulb Project. The bulbs chosen for the garden will bloom in several stages to encourage people to frequently visit the garden. There will be an early bloom, mid-spring bloom, and late spring bloom at the Sculpture Garden.

Glow Motion Tuilps

Wish List: Glow Motion Tulips

This project is possible thanks to generous Rotarians, local businesses, and community leaders. The goal is to plant 15,000 bulbs this fall, and donations have already been collected for 8,700 bulbs, but more donations are needed. If you or your business would like to contribute to the Biggest Little Bulb Project please contact Lisa Jansen at

Big Up Tulips on the Wish List

Wish List: Big Ups Tulips

Vote! USA Today Best BBQ Festival

Stop everything you are doing and vote for the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off as Best BBQ Festival in the USA Today Readers’ Choice Poll.

Click here!

Click picture to vote!

Being nominated as one of the best BBQ festivals in the country is a huge honor. Winning means a lot of national publicity for the event and a new level of community pride. We all know that Sparks, Nevada is home to the best BBQ festival in the country, so now we want the rest of the country to know. Six-days of rib cooking and 241,000 pounds of ribs makes this the nation’s winner when it comes to the largest BBQ festival.  Now we want the official title as USA Today Reader’s Choice Best BBQ Festival.

A title like USA Today Best BBQ Festival 2016 will also open doors for new sponsorship opportunities. It gives us a talking point when we pitch national sponsorships, and it would be nice to go back to the national companies that won’t give us the time of day and show them we are the best. The bragging rights that come with this title are enormous!

Voting is easy! You can vote once a day on each electronic device you own. That means you should vote using your home computer, laptop, smart phone, tablet, and work computer, as long as it won’t get you in trouble with the boss.

The contest started earlier this week. Overnight we went from #18 to #2. The contest ends on June 20th so hopefully we can take the lead by the end of the contest and bring home the title for our community. Please take a minute each day and vote for the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off.

Wanted: Cleaner Environment Sponsor

All special events produce waste. The good events try to limit their impact on the environment.

Over the years the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off has developed a recycling and waste management program. This year I’d like to take that program to the next level. To do this, the event needs a Cleaner Environment Sponsor.

The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off removed more than 20 tons of recyclable and compostable products from the event last year. There are recycling bins placed strategically around the event and in the VIP Rib Village. The Rib Village is a very important part of the program. All plates, cups, napkins, and utensils are made of biodegradable material. The glass and plastic at the event is also recycled. If it isn’t compostable or recyclable, we don’t buy it for the VIP Rib Village. Last year we recycled 600 cubic yards of cardboard. Since the program started in 2011, there has been a 39% reduction in the amount of waste sent to the landfill from the event. We are proud of this accomplishment, but we want to do more!

We’ve started to run into problems with our recycling efforts. We run into issues with contamination. Customers constantly put trash into the recycling bins. The bins are well labeled, the customers just don’t read them, or are lazy and don’t care. They also contaminate the bins by putting liquids into the bins. Once the bin is contaminated we can’t recycle the other contents. A few ruin it for the masses when it comes to this part of the recycling program.

Another problem we face is that the event produces so much waste that we can’t sort it and dispose of it fast enough. This means sometimes it just has to find a dumpster. Event attendees don’t know they can recycle at the event. They don’t realize there are recycling bins and that they have the opportunity to recycle. We need to educate the customers about the recycling program.

We believe that with a sponsor we can invest more in the recycling program for the event. It is a great opportunity for a company to make a difference by helping the environment while also marketing their brand as an environmentally friendly business. We are looking for a sponsor that would contribute $15,000 – $20,000 for the program. The sponsorship funds will go towards hiring temp workers to help collect the waste at the event, purchasing tools needed for the program, purchasing additional bins for recycling, and advertising to promote the new program.

The vision for the official Cleaner Environment Rib Cook-Off sponsor is a partnership to enhance recycling efforts as well as education efforts. The funds from the sponsorship will help build a recycling station at the event where customers can give their trash to volunteers who will then sort it into the appropriate recycling and waste groups. This should cut down immensely on the amount of waste and increase the amount of materials recycled at the event. Having an assembly line of volunteers working with the right tools to sort the items would also help.

Additional funds from the sponsorship will be spent on advertising the program and promoting the recycling efforts at the event. It is going to be important to educate the public so they are aware of the recycling program. This is a great opportunity for the sponsor to receive positive press and news coverage for their contribution to the event’s recycling efforts. The program will be a main talking point at the media press conference luncheon in August.

We firmly believe that with the right partner we could dramatically improve the recycling program at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. This sponsorship package is available for local and national sponsors. If your company is interested in pursuing this opportunity, please email

Rib Cook-Off 2015 Entertainment Lineup Announced

The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off is September 2 – September 7, 2015. The six day BBQ festival offers a wide variety of FREE live entertainment. The West End stage has about 40 bands playing throughout the event, there is a DJ in the plaza, and the Main Stage is where all the big nightly shows take place. Last week we were lucky enough to visit with our radio sponsors and announce the lineup. One of the perks of being a radio sponsor is you know who the bands are before everyone else. We announce the bands on the sponsor radio stations so they can help break the exciting news to our community.

We always have a lot of fun announcing the entertainment. Here is our radio interview with Max Volume added to a nice picture montage. We made the announcement on 5 stations, but this was the only interview we have saved in an audio file.

Want more information about the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off? Check out the website at

Star Spangled Sparks Event Recap

Following a long tradition, this year the Nugget Casino Resort hosted the 16th Annual Star Spangled Sparks 4th of July fireworks show. This event was a tradition started under the Ascuaga family ownership of the Nugget Casino. The Nugget began hosting the fireworks show after several other shows in the area were canceled due to a lack of funding. Local legend is that John Ascuaga stood up after other fireworks shows were canceled and declared someone needed to provide fireworks, so he volunteered to put on the fireworks show to save the community’s Fourth of July celebration.

The fireworks were a success this year, we shot them at 9:49pm which was only a 4 minute delay. I’d call that show on-time. Not too shabby for a show with 5,000 pounds of fireworks. About 50,000 people filled Victorian Square to enjoy the FREE fireworks show. We had a good crowd this year. The police report for the annual event is usually about three pages long, this year it was only one page. Everyone enjoyed the show and the cooler weather helped keep everyone calm and relaxed.

Fox 11 Morning Show - Star Spangled Sparks

Lisa Jansen & Lauren Garber talking about Star Spangled Sparks with Bill Frankmore on Fox 11 Morning Show

The weather was a little rough on us leading up to the event this year. Our pyro team had to work around the daily thunder storms. Turns out it is a little dangerous to put together explosives on the roof of a casino in thunder storms. The rain is also an issue. The techs couldn’t put the explosives together if they got wet. So the crew worked around the weather and then at the last minute we had additional pyro team members show up to help finish the last part of setup. It was a challenge but it all turned out well in the end. The event attendees enjoyed the show and were delighted with some of the new types of fireworks.

We are already making plans and discussing next year’s Star Spangled Sparks event. The event has become extremely expensive. It costs approximately $150,000 to host this event. We’ve been lucky to have sponsors help cover some of the expenses over the years, but in the end the Nugget has spent about $100,000 each year to make sure Reno/Sparks has a great fireworks show on the 4th of July. The Nugget plans to continue hosting Star Spangled Sparks, but is looking for more community support in the form of local business sponsorships.

Drone Video:

July 4, 2015

Director of PR Lauren Garber & Director of Special Events Lisa Jansen AKA Team #NuggLife

Next year the event will look quite different. There are two new housing developments going into Victorian Square that will change the look and feel of Star Spangled Sparks. The Nugget has worked with the City of Sparks on these developments and made a land-swap to guarantee there is still room for special events over the summer.

The community doesn’t acknowledge or appreciate it yet, but at some point they will wake up and realize the new owners of the Nugget are committed to supporting a vibrant downtown area and keeping special events alive in the old rail city. The new owners continue to donate to local causes and support the community, they may not have a public image like the Ascuagas with their involvement of these causes, but they are there in the background supporting area programs, special events, and charitable organizations. Both Star Spangled Sparks and the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off will continue to grow and be events locals can be proud of that make our community a great place to live.

If your company would like to become a sponsor of Star Spangled Sparks please contact me at



VIP Rib Village Image Credit: Nugget Casino Resort

It is that time of year already and I’m working on rounding up sponsors for the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. This event is the biggest barbeque festival in the country. There are approximately 500,000 visits to the event. I wrote visits instead of attendees because many folks come back every day trying to taste ribs from all 24 rib cookers that are competing in the contest. The magnitude of this event is unimaginable for most people. Last year we sold 241,000 pounds of ribs over the 6 day event. An event this big takes a village, and lots of sponsors.

There are two types of sponsorships for the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. The first is the total event sponsorship or national sponsorship, the second type of sponsorship is the Rib Village sponsorship. I will write another blog post later about the total event and national sponsorships; this blog post will focus on the Rib Village sponsorship.

The Rib Village is the most wonderful VIP experience you can have at the Rib Cook-Off. This is the area within the event where you can get UNLIMITED ribs and drinks when you purchase a table through the lottery or through sponsorship. Tables are sold directly $950 each for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; and $850 each for Wednesday and Monday. We sell a limited number of single seats at Monday’s Rib Village and sometimes people get lucky and can buy them the night of the event at the door if sponsors return any tickets.

The Lottery is Born…

There is so much demand for the VIP Rib Village tables that we’ve had to start a lottery. Years ago, before I was the director of the event, they used to have a first come – first serve system. People would start lining up in front of the executive offices to buy their tickets, they started camping out just like the crazy shoppers on Black Friday. This started to be a problem for many reasons, but after two customers got into a fight in line the Nugget had had enough and decided they needed to make a change. The only way to make this fair for all the masses that wanted to buy tables was to start a lottery for table purchases. Now we have a link on the website and people all year-round put their name in the lottery. In July we pull the lottery and contact the people that are randomly selected. For those that don’t want to take the gamble and enter the lottery, we offer sponsorship opportunities.

Between now and mid-July I will sell as many tables as I possibly can to sponsors. The rest of the tables go into the lottery inventory. We’ve had nights where there were only 12 tables in the lottery inventory and other nights where there were about three dozen tables. The inventory depends on how many tables the sponsors purchase. It all depends on how successful we are at sponsorship sales, so take my advice, skip the lottery and become a sponsor.

How much is a Rib Village sponsorship?

Rib Village sponsors pay $2,900 for the sponsorship. They receive two tables, each table seats 10 people. They also get to display a banner in the village, their business name is listed on the welcome sign at the entrance, and they have the ability to put flyers and swag on the tables with the Nugget’s approval. They also have the option to buy additional tables without going into the lottery. This is the real value for corporations that use this event for marketing, schmoozing customers, and for employee recognition events.

VIP Rib Village

Image Credit: Nugget Casino Resort

So far I’m off to a good start with sponsorship sales this year. There is always turn over each year with sponsors but we usually make up for the loss of old sponsors with new sponsors. Reno is starting to really see some dynamic changes and new companies are announcing that they are moving here every day, so we expect to see some new names this year. Who knows? Maybe we will get lucky and our new neighbors Tesla or Amazon will become new sponsors. I’m sure they will come calling when they smell the Ribs cooking over Labor Day weekend.

Want to become a sponsor or have questions about the event? Please contact me at

Sponsor Brainstorming Experiment

Brainstorming. You love it, you hate it, or you just tolerate it. It can be tricky to have a successful brainstorming session. I was recently assigned the task of hosting a brainstorming session for sponsorship development. My boss thought it would be a good idea to have the whole management team, which is approximately 50 people, work together to brainstorm sponsorship ideas for the two biggest events I plan. I wasn’t convinced it would work, but I wanted to do the best we could, so I did some research.

Like all good researchers I went to Google and typed in “How to plan a brainstorming session.” I received a lot of good information, including good rules for brainstorming sessions. The most interesting search results were that people do better alone brainstorming, and then the contradictory results that people worked better as a group brainstorming. There was a fascinating article in The Wall Street Journal by Jared Sandberg back in 2006 called “Brainstorming Works Best if People Scramble For Ideas on Their Own” which caught my eye. The article pointed out some very obvious flaws in the concept of brainstorming. For example, people are self-conscious and don’t want to speak up, creativity can’t be scheduled for a certain time of the day, someone hijacks the topic, someone tries to prove everyone else wrong, people go out of their way to impress superiors who are present, or someone talks over their colleagues and doesn’t know when to stop. The article presents findings from Professor Paulus, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Arlington. He found that usually group brainstormers perform at 50% of the level they would if they brainstormed alone. Brainstorming is very important to many businesses. I’ve never heard that it was so ineffective.

Other search results mainly focused on the effectiveness of brainstorming, especially if everyone builds on each other’s ideas. So I decided to use my brainstorming session as an experiment to test these two theories. At our weekly management meeting we sit at tables of 5-6 people. This is the perfect size for a brainstorming group.

My experiment…

Each person that came to the meeting received two pieces of paper, one for each event. The CEO gave an introduction and told the meeting attendees that we were going to have a brainstorming session. I started off the session telling them about the two theories and that we were doing an experiment. I could see the relief on many faces when I told them we would start off with brainstorming alone, that was a big sign.

I started the session by telling everyone that I would not give them a list of current sponsors because I wanted them to think of this as if we were starting from scratch. I also wouldn’t tell them if their suggestions were past or current sponsors in honor of saving time. I told them that at the end of the session all of the lists would be taken back to my office and I would send proposal to potential new sponsors. I then told them the sponsor levels but that was it. Then I gave them 3 minutes to brainstorm silently. After the 3 minutes they were given 2 minutes to discuss their list with the other people at their table. Before they started I had my friend in the sales department read the rules. The Rules: go for quantity, be visual, hold off judgment, build on top of each other’s idea, focus, and go for crazy ideas. They were told to work together to come up with the top 3 sponsors. Then we went around to each table and they told us their top 3 sponsors.

Click here to check out "How to have better brainstorming sessions" blog by Emy

Click here to check out “How to have better brainstorming sessions” blog by Emy

It was very interesting because the brainstorm for the first session went well. They came up with more ideas and they gave me a lot of good leads. The second round where they had more time as a group and less time brainstorming alone surprisingly didn’t go as well. They were all so talkative after sharing their top 3 suggestions in Round 1 that I couldn’t completely gain control of the room and get everyone to silently brainstorm for Round 2. I even called people out for talking to their neighbor like a teacher would, and it barely had an effect on them. Their lists were also shorter for the second brainstorming session. The event we were brainstorming sponsors for is about 10 times larger than the first event, so it should have been easier to come up with sponsor ideas. The quality of suggestion in Round 2 was also not as great as the quality in Round 1.

After going back to my office and analyzing the results I came to the conclusion that having them brainstorm alone for a longer time would have benefited us more. The results were much better for Round 1. The next brainstorming session I host I plan on using a similar method to Round 1 but I will give them more time to brainstorm alone since it received the best results.

Additional Reading: How to Have Better Brainstorming Sessions

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9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Planning a Special Event

To plan or not to plan...that is the questionHas anyone ever told you that you don’t have to pursue every great idea you’ve ever had? No? Well I will! Just because you have a great idea for an event doesn’t mean you need to go out and do it. There are a few important questions you should ask yourself before launching a new special event. I know from experience as an event producer and as an event sponsor that if you can’t answer these questions you have no business pursuing your event concept. After answering all these questions if you still think you should plan your event, then charge full steam ahead.

1. Do you have the resources and capabilities to plan this event?

If you don’t have the resources or capabilities to plan the event you have no business moving forward with the event. As an event producer you should never count on anyone else to do all the work or provide all the resources. It is extremely poor form to consider yourself an “idea person” and then expect everyone else to do the heavy lifting while you take the fame and glory. It is also poor form to approach a sponsor and expect them to pay all the bills for whatever party/event you are trying to plan. If you come into my office and ask me to sponsor your event, then tell me if I don’t sponsor you won’t plan the event, game over.

2. Is there a demand for this type of event?

Just because you like the idea doesn’t mean others will. You must ask yourself if there is demand for this type of event. If there is no demand, don’t plan the event!

3. Is this event duplicating another special event? Is this event unique? What makes it special?

If I get one more donation request for a crab feed I might scream. If you are starting a new event, try to come up with something original. You want to plan a unique event that will be an attraction. Don’t do the same old thing!

4. Has anyone else planned this type of event that you could learn from? What can you learn from them?

Several years ago I decided I wanted to plan a western theme bar crawl through downtown Reno. The Reno Santa Crawl was just becoming a big hit and I thought it would be a great event in June to attract tourists and locals to downtown Reno. I studied Santa Crawl online and I found the contact information for the event planner. I emailed him and asked for some advice. This is when I became friends with Matthew Goedert, one of the best event producers in Reno. Matt and I became friends over email and then we started having regular phone calls. He gave me great advice and I learned a lot from him. I firmly believe that if you don’t know something, you better ask someone.

5. Who is the competition?

When it comes to planning events there are several types of competition in my mind. You need to ask yourself who you are competing with for sponsors. Who are you competing with for event dates? Who are you competing with for event locations? One of the worst mistakes I see event planners make is not doing their research on the competition. Do your research, and if you find out you are about to plan your event on a weekend where there are several other special events, think again! This could make or break your event. You may lose out on locations, sponsors, and most of all event attendees.

6. Does this event attract the audience you want to attract?

Remember the western theme bar crawl I mentioned in #4? Well #6 is where I made a fatal mistake in my event plans. I was planning this event to get people fired up for Reno Rodeo and raise funds for one of the injured cowboy charity group. I had several bars signed on to the event, I had marketing materials designed, I had a Myspace page because it was early 2000s, I thought I had a lot of support, but I didn’t do my research. I thought for sure Reno Rodeo would support this event. I was on the Reno Rodeo Community Support Committee and we were all incredibly excited for the possibilities. Everyone I talked to wanted to be a part of the event. So the committee sent me down to present the event to the Rodeo Executive Board. I was a Wrangler Volunteer at the time and I didn’t do enough research on the board. Had I done my research, I would have known I was going to go down in flames when I presented at their board meeting. The catch with this event is that Reno Rodeo had been working hard to support their foundation, and the foundation mainly supported kids’ organizations. The last thing they wanted to do was have their name attached to an event that promoted drinking. It was the complete opposite of their charitable mission. I was trying to attract the wrong audience. They were more interested in attracting families to the rodeo and especially kids, a bar crawl was the wrong event.

Now I work at a casino. My goal is to plan events that attract gamblers and entertain adults over 21 because gaming is only legal for those 21 and older. I want to plan events that will attract people that like to gamble or like live entertainment that have extra spending money and like to have fun. I work hard to attract the right audience and I’m thankful that I learned this lesson early in the game.

7. Will this event be supported? Why?

Before planning an event you must ask yourself how hard it will be to find sponsors and supporters in your community. You need to make sure the community you operate in will support your event. When you approach sponsors ask yourself why they should support your event, but don’t pretend to completely understand their needs and business. If you can’t come up with any good answers, your event isn’t meant to be.

8. Why might this event succeed? Why might it fail?

There are so many reasons why events fail or succeed. You need to determine what it will take to succeed and always consider worst case scenarios. A very smart venture capitalist once told me to expect the unexpected. When you practice this thought process you start determining risk and consequences. In my own event planning experience I’ve found that city ordinances and government regulations are becoming more and more challenging for event producers. I’ve had several event ideas that I didn’t pursue because regulation made them unrealistic and they had no chance to succeed. If you can’t afford the risk of paying a lot for city services, insurance, and other expenses you should not proceed. Make sure you consider how these and other factors out of your control might affect your event and what you can do to ensure success.

9. Can this event grow and be self-sustaining?

It is important to consider whether your event has growth potential. In some cases you also need to be able to manage extreme growth. Events are expensive so you need to make sure that your event is capable of being self-sustaining. It is hard to launch new events. If you aren’t making a profit after the first three years, it might be time to cancel the event, or restructure. If your first year is a huge success, make sure you have enough funds available to prepare for extreme growth in the next few years. If your event doesn’t grow and can’t be self-sustaining, don’t pursue the event anymore. It is a waste of your resources and sponsors resources.

After considering all of these questions if you still feel like your event is a good idea and worth pursuing then by all means chase that event dream. If not, walk away. There is strength in walking away, especially from bad ideas or good ideas that are just unfeasible.

Did you find this blog helpful? Want some genuine and honest feedback about your event idea? Email me and I’ll be happy to give you a free consultation on your event concept.

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