Meet Reggie Kouba, CEO and founder of RMK Productions, an event planning and association management for membership organizations and nonprofits. From serving as the strategic oversight for clients at SheaHedges Group to working as a project manager of financial direct marketing for the AFL-CIO, Kouba has over 20 years of experience in event and professional services experience.
Kouba spoke with WashingtonExec about the use of social media and mobile devices to manage events, why her management style sets her business apart from other event planing companies and her most memorable college internship.
WashingtonExec: Please tell us a little bit about your background and your current role at RMK Productions?
Reggie Kouba: I had the best college internship ever — planning events for the Democratic National Committee. We planned events in desirable locales like the Virgin Islands; it was a great experience for a college student. For the next 15 or so years after college, I worked with several PR firms and always kept my hand in event planning both for the firm and for clients. With RMK, I am the owner but am deeply involved in the day to day with all my clients.
“I was lucky enough to be able to incubate RMK out of SpeakerBox Communications with the full support of SpeakerBox CEO, Elizabeth Shea. I watched and helped as she and Kristi Hedges built SpeakerBox (formerly Shea Hedges) and they appreciated my drive to want to do something similar.”
WashingtonExec: How did you start your business and how is it different from other event management companies?
Reggie Kouba: Working in management positions at small firms, I appreciated the challenges and rewards of being a business owner and wanted to experience them for myself. I was lucky enough to be able to incubate RMK out of SpeakerBox Communications with the full support of SpeakerBox CEO, Elizabeth Shea. I watched and helped as she and Kristi Hedges built SpeakerBox (formerly Shea Hedges) and they appreciated my drive to want to do something similar.
In starting the company, it was easier for me to decide what I did not want to do – I did not want to be responsible for developing the content of programs or raising money. Those tasks are best done by organization members to create authentic and meaningful events for their membership base. I knew my strengths were in the event planning, logistics, and general management skills.
WashingtonExec: How does social media play a factor in the promotional/PR aspects of planning an event?
Reggie Kouba: Social media is becoming critical to the promotion of events. As promotion is part of our charter for most clients, we have become familiar with all the different tools. Where it used to just be drafting emails, now we are routinely writing tweets and managing Facebook and LinkedIn posts.
WashingtonExec: Does the use of mobile devices such as smart phones make event management among your team work efficiently?
Reggie Kouba: It helps immensely. Phones and texting are invaluable tools for staying in touch with everyone working an event (sometimes in very spread out spaces) to quickly check status or troubleshoot. Cameras on phones make taking pictures to document the event (and post to social media) much easier than before. There are also a lot of great application and tools. The one I am most excited about is a device I plug into my iPad that allows us to take credit card payments on site at events.
WashingtonExec: Your company also engages in daily office operations, meeting support, finance and communication. Explain how this sets you apart from solely providing event management services?
Reggie Kouba: Many of our clients are small industry associations (examples: WIT & WTPF) with volunteer boards. Events are at their core, but there is a business that needs to be run to support those events. It is more work than a volunteer team can take on and that is where we step in. It makes a lot of sense for me to be intimately aware of the business of the organization as it helps us plan and guide more effective events that drive the group’s goals.
WashingtonExec: How is your leadership role shaped as being part of a growing number of women-owned businesses in the executive/corporate sector?
Reggie Kouba: I have always seemed to surround myself with women business owners as clients, partners, and mentors. This world of women business owners is a true community of collaboration with women wanting to help other women succeed. The informal network I have built has helped immensely in growing my business.
WashingtonExec: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Reggie Kouba: Currently I am spending a lot of quality time on the courts and fields of youth sports. I serve as the Registration Commissioner for Arlington County Youth football. My youngest son is on a travel hockey team and my older son plays travel basketball.