It was the one of the biggest challenges in Shawna Haggerty’s event-planning career -- her organization’s 40th Anniversary. The venue? The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, where restrictions were especially rigorous.

And she was facing a timeline of only 90 days to plan and complete everything.

The stakes were high and the logistics complex. While the interior garden at the Gallery is stunning in its grandeur, it’s subject to tight federal security regulations and strict installation and de-installation codes.

Related: The Value of Event Signage

To make it even harder, the event had to be built from the ground up, without the use of templates, prior backdrops, or signage used at previous events. And yet, as the premier credentialing organization for the human resources industry, the HR Certification Institute® had to reflect the professional credibility they represent for HR individuals and organizations. For 40 years they've set the standard for HR mastery and excellence worldwide.

If that isn’t pressure, what is?

Events Case Study: HRCI | Ironmark, Annapolis Junction, MD


Instead of a piecemeal approach, Shawna partnered with Ironmark for all the services she needed.

The Ironmark building team started by walking the venue itself, measuring the floor of the Portrait Gallery to understand the physical space and its limitations. By doing this early, they could draw floor plans that accounted for electrical, plumbing, height, width, doorway, unloading and reloading, sub-structural and regulatory considerations and brainstorm a variety of options for Shawna to discuss with her internal stakeholders. They even brought samples of display products that she could actually see on-site.

Related: 7 Event Management Tools We Love

Within this background, the creative team came up with several unique concepts and worked closely with Shawna throughout the whole process. Once the perfect look was finalized, the team printed and mailed the invitations and designed email templates, website and social media graphics, exhibit materials, and signage. Additionally, they created a unique Ribbon Wall display, whimsical Lollipop Certifications signs, and a fun photo booth that connected the event with social media.



“I turned my head and all of a sudden everything was installed in precisely the right place, and it looked amazing,” said Shawna about the team’s efforts unloading and installing on the day before opening. Also, having the team’s captains there during the activities to keep the displays looking perfect and the print materials stocked and organized freed her up to work with her attendees and organization officers.


Nearly 1,200 people attended (only 750-850 were expected) and the feedback from certification holders both during and after the event was fantastic.  

If you want results like this too feel free to get in touch with us. We'll help turn your next big event into a big success!

Written by Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley oversees the digital marketing client services team as well as the marketing strategy division for the company. Since joining the company in 2016, she has increased Ironmark’s digital presence by over 700%, establishing a new lead generation mechanism for the sales team. A certified inbound marketing professional and HubSpot agency partner, Kingsley has been helping companies transform their marketing function into fully diverse and streamlined growth engines since 2003. With agency and client-side work under her belt, Kingsley’s strategic experience spans both the B2B and B2C sectors. Prior to joining the Ironmark team, she served as in-house marketing director for several non-profit organizations. Kingsley is an honors graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
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