The Berkeley Forum

97 events. 152 speakers. 7,760 attendees.

Most Recently: Vice President of Communications | Sept 2013 – May 2017

rand paul event

March 20, 2014. Journalists film Kentucky Senator Rand Paul as he speaks at a sold-out Berkeley Forum event that was live-streamed by CNN and featured on the front page of the New York Times. Journalists from over 20 different news organizations were present at the talk.

Background

The Berkeley Forum is a non-partisan, entirely student-run organization that provides the Berkeley community with a platform for the free expression and debate of a wide range of ideas by hosting debates, panels, and talks with a wide range of distinguished speakers.

I joined the organization soon after its founding when it had hosted only 1 event and grew it to a campus institution that had hosted almost 100 events with Cabinet Secretaries, US senators, presidential candidates, CEOs, a Nobel Laureate, an Emmy Award Winner, foreign government officials, and many others.

In my four years I served on the Communications Committee, as Marketing Manager, as Press Chief & Head of Special Projects, and finally spent a year as Vice President of Communications.

feng zhang event audience

Event Planning

In my time in the Forum, we put on 97 events with 152 speakers, brought in 7,760 audience members, and reached hundreds of thousands more online. I helped organize and run the events, coordinated with speakers’ advance teams, developed contingency plans, and worked with the Secret Service. I also dealt with unexpected situations the day of events, such as protests and event interruptions.

berkeley forum press coverage

Press Coverage & Public Relations

One of my responsibilities in the Forum was to handle all press inquiries and to actively seek out coverage. These efforts led to coverage in over 45 different news outlets all over the world, including an event being live streamed by C-SPAN and CNN, as well as front page (above-the-fold) coverage in The New York Times. I also was in charge of giving interviews on behalf of the organization and putting out statements when some of our events were interrupted by protests.

noah alper snapchat filter

Marketing & Branding

Developing the organization’s brand, growing our social media following, running marketing campaigns that organically reached 34,000+ unique individuals, and building a mailing list of 7,000+ subscribers. My team worked to promote all events to the community and constantly tried to add new touches to them (e.g. Snapchat filters). I also built a relationship with the student newspaper to secure an event lineup announcement article.

berkeley forum crowdfunding campaign

Business Development

As a non-profit student organization with a mission of providing extremely accessible events (free for all students and staff), fundraising was key. In the course of a year, my team raised $12,000+ in funding, via grants, sponsorships, a crowdfunding campaign, and other initiatives. I also helped secure 15 partnerships and oversaw the creation of the Berkeley Forum’s small business sponsorship program from scratch.

data analytics events speakers attendees

Data Analytics

With my passion for data, I led the creation of the organization’s data team. Our goal was to use data to help other teams make data-informed decisions. This included using data to predict no-show rates, figure out how many tickets to sell, identify the best venues, find optimal ticket prices, and provide analytics for grant applications and sponsorships. We also conducted A/B testing together with the marketing team.

berkeley forum podcast

Special Projects

Throughout my time in the Forum I always looked for new opportunities. This included creating a frequent guest loyalty program, starting to live stream events, launching the Berkeley Forum podcast, using live voting at some events, and making events interactive with a Twitter wall.