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Cheryl Ajamu explains how to create and execute award-winning productions

Photo credit: Lee Stafford

Cheryl Ajamu is the founder and CEO of the Ajamu Group LLC and is also the creator and executive producer of the diversity-themed luncheon, the Multicultural Media Luncheon and Automotive Industry Awards Ceremony, which is held annually during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. She launched the luncheon in 2011 and has been credited with being the first African American female to produce an event during NAIAS press week in Detroit. The luncheon, which has been called the most prestigious event during NAIAS press week by industry insiders, is an Academy Awards-style event honoring ethnic groups for their achievements in the automotive industry. A celebrity with expertise in marketing and branding is often selected as the keynote speaker and shares their personal insight with the audience. This year’s celebrity speaker was baseball great, World Series champion and auto dealer Alex Rodriguez, and he dropped some real-estate gems on the crowd that had attendees at complete attention.

Ajamu comes with a plethora of experience, from being a star in advertising and sales, the customer service industry and the event management world as well. She has also won numerous awards in every endeavor she has worked in. Her meticulous work ethic and exceptional client service raised the bar in relationships between diversity publications and the automotive advertising industry.

Rolling out spoke with Ajamu about how her role as a producer for major events, such as her annually sold-out event, the Multicultural Media Luncheon. Read below to discover Ajamu’s key insider secrets on how to create an award-winning production.

When planning an event such as the Multicultural Media Luncheon and Automotive Industry Awards Ceremony, what key components make for a successful event?

To have a successful event it’s important to determine what your objectives and goals are for your event before you begin the planning process. If it’s attracting consumers, it must be engaging and entertaining. If it’s for consumer brands, it must be a memorable, positive consumer experience with your brand, which will generate future sales or the intent to purchase and create positive feedback on social media.  It’s important that there is a “fun” element to your event too!

In the past, you’ve had amazing keynote speakers that such as Alex Rodriguez and Boris Kodjoe. What makes an outstanding keynote speaker and how do you go about selecting them? 

I select speakers for the Multicultural Media Luncheon who appeal to the public and who have had success and challenges in business or managing their brand. I select speakers who are comfortable engaging with the public as well.

Marketing is a vital success factor when it comes creating an amazing event. How do you ensure your marketing efforts are effective? 

Strategic partnerships are a great way to enhance your marketing efforts. Each brand that’s involved must benefit from the strategic partnership. Both parties must agree to meet their obligations for the partnership to work effectively.

The Multicultural Media Luncheon has a strategic partnership with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit as a sanctioned event. This partnership has brought credibility to my event and brand, amplified the diversity message within the automotive industry and increased the general public’s attendance and interest in the Detroit Auto Show Press week activities. When I receive photos of consumers with their cars who have purchased them because of attending the Multicultural Media Luncheon, I know our marketing plan is working and it’s affecting the bottom line in the auto industry!

Leaders know that teamwork makes the dream work. What makes up an executive producer’s dream team? Which roles on your team are indispensable and why?

Every role on The Ajamu Group’s team is crucial to the success of my events. The important thing to remember is to make sure your team understands why their job is important to the overall success of the event.

Branding is very important for an event to be successful, and you’ve done an incredible job at branding the Multicultural Media Luncheon. How do you hit the mark in terms of branding your event? 

Consistency is very important to me for branding the Multicultural Media Luncheon. People know when they attend my event that it will be upscale, well-organized, educational and entertaining. These are the same characteristics I had for my event when I launched the Multicultural Media Luncheon in 2011.

What do you need to do as an event producer to ensure your event is being effectively branded?

Getting feedback from guests who attend your event is important. I always randomly select persons attending the Multicultural Media Luncheon for feedback to determine if The Ajamu Group’s branding goal for the event matches the attendee and/or sponsor’s perception of the event. I remember the first time I overhead someone talking about my event. They said it was very classy, exceptional networking, a great event to learn about careers in the auto industry, well-organized, and my team was very professional. People still share their stories with me about attending my first luncheon where Earvin “Magic” Johnson was the speaker. They remember how organized the event was, portions of Mr. Johnson’s speech that impacted their careers, the Lakers basketball tickets Mr. Johnson donated as door prizes and the auto executives who attended. That was eight years ago.

If you had to sum it up, what are five essential qualities that you need to become an outstanding event producer?


–Strong organizational skills;

–Detail oriented;

–Be flexible;

–Be a good listener.

Where can we follow you on social media?

Facebook:  Cheryl Parks Ajamu and The Ajamu Group, LLC

Twitter:   @TheAjamuGroup    @CherylAjamu