IF WE LEARNED anything from the infamous White House gatecrashers, it’s to never underestimate the worth of a planner with his or her finger on the party’s pulse. Indeed, the role of an event planner is that of soiree CEO, charged with shepherding the shindig from conception to cleanup — and, most importantly, smoothing out any potential PR hiccups along the way.

“You’re not hosting the party; you’re producing the party,” says Laura Lachman, a Manhattan-based event planner for luxury clients such as Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Vogue. Learn the difference — and whether you have what it takes to go from office party committee to professional planner — at her monthlong Media Bistro online course, “Intro to Event Planning.”

» The Basics: Designed to be interactive, the class features lectures posted by Lachman, plus weekly assignments and online chats with plenty of her feedback (plus transcripts if you can’t make the virtual meet-up). The webinar details the myriad challenges an event planner might face — charity galas, consumer product launches and festivals, to name a few. “If you follow my production documents, which list every element involved and put it all into writing, it’s pretty foolproof,” Lachman says.

» What you’ll learn: Students explore the essential elements of memorable events, including vendors, promotion, sponsorships, budgets, guest lists, timelines and more. Lachman sprinkles her lectures with insider tips on the do’s and don’ts, using case studies on real affairs both grand and gaffe-filled. “More than anything, you need to be able to plan in advance and forecast anything that could go wrong,” Lachman says. “A successful event planner is strategic, calm under pressure and a multitasker.”

» What’s the deal? “Intro to Event Planning” is a four-week online course offered by Media Bistro, featuring live Web chats Mondays from 9 to 10 p.m. May 17 through June 21. The class costs $350. Register online at Mediabistro.com.

Written by Expres contributor Katie Knorovsky
Photo courtesy Laura Lachman