Monthly Archives: June 2011
A recent post on the very excellent BBH Labs blog* has brought me back to thinking about tigers and sheep which I wrote about in May 2010. In that post I didn’t actually use the quote that originally came to my attention through the British mountain climber Alison Hargreaves so here it is:
Better to live one day as a tiger than your whole life as a sheep
Inevitably, when we discuss modern communication, we spend most of our time considering whether we are properly reflecting the truth of the brand or engaging the interest and participation of the audience. And rightly so. But doesn’t it help, a little at least, to be motivated by our own interest, enthusiasm and sense of pride?
While I have worked in many events organisations that have enthusiasm by the bucketload; and self-interest is after all what motivates many a sales executive with an eye on their commission cheque; I am not sure that pride in the sense that Jim uses it is often in the mix. When staging an event, particularly one in the B2B marketplace, the team has to serve a huge number of masters: from industry bodies with committees and egos of their own; to sponsors who rightly want to extract maximum benefit for their investment; a multiplicity of media partners, exhibitors, speakers; plus the visitors themselves; while constantly reminding themselves of the need for a positive financial outcome.
How in this maelstrom of expectation do you stay true to the event and the original ideas that drove it’s inception?
It helps if you actually have a clear description of what your event actually is. Sit your entire team in a room and ask them to define your event in a single sentence (no restriction on the number of words!). If you have never done this I can guarantee you’ll have more than one answer. Once you have nailed this one, decide on the personality and profile of your event. Write it down. Create your branding document, and by this I don’t just mean your look and feel, it should also define your market position and your key performance indicators. And every single one of your team needs to know that this is the hymn sheet they should sing from.
While it is essential to be embedded in your marketplace, and you should make essential changes, don’t be tempted or swayed by single voices or what other organisers are doing. Constant reactions and alterations make you look like grass swaying in the wind rather than firmly rooted and leading the way. If your research was thoroughly executed and your key participants were eager to come on board, don’t let others tinker with or distort your original concept simply because they think they can.
Have the courage of your convictions so that when the last truck leaves the venue you can say “That was my event, and of it I am very proud.”
*Well worth a read – particularly if you have been struggling with how to develop your own company blog with buy in from the entire organisation. Admittedly they have lots of fabulous creative content to play with, but that shouldn’t be your excuse.
My pre-teen loves Shakespeare. It’s not something I can take any credit for since I didn’t really pay much attention in English Literature (I blame the teacher) and the sight of Denzel Washington, Robert Sean Leonard and Keanu Reaves striding around in riding breeches in the 1993 film version of Much ado about Nothing probably stopped me from appreciating the complexity and vivacity of the language.
Despite having the RSC and Globe Theatre more or less on the doorstep we haven’t quite managed a trip to see the Bard’s offerings live as yet, so there was little to reference when confronted by a project to design the stage setting for MacBeth. However, we were saved from having to trawl through countless videos on YouTube by a brilliant event produced by Florida Virtual School on the 6Connex virtual experience platform.
The Florida Virtual School develops and provides virtual K-12education solutions to students in Florida, the U.S., and the world. Founded in 1997, it was the country’s first, state-wide Internet-based public high school. Today, FLVS serves students in grades K-12 and provides a variety of custom solutions for schools and districts to meet student needs. Its virtual Shakespeare festival was live on 26-27 April and once we had logged in we were able to see presentations from FLVS students as they acted favourite Shakespeare scenes or added their own interpretation. With vignettes from other Shakespeare companies, including the very excellent Reduced Shakespeare Company, we were able to absorb a lot of content and styles in a very short period indeed, presented in a way that felt extremely accessible.
Was something lost by the presentation of theatrical works in video that was a bit grainy and certainly wobbly in places? Possibly yes. But many children and young people (and the rest of us!) today live off a diet of YouTube video and homemade entertainment delivered via phone, iPad and PC so my 12 year old wasn’t remotely phased by a lack of cinematic quality. What she really enjoyed was being able to interact with the actors and presenters in real time. Networking was easy in this virtual environment and the fact that most of the other participants were 4,500 miles away was of no concern. Did she learn anything – definitely. Did she enjoy the experience – absolutely.
The debate about virtual vs live rumbles on, and on, but what this event shows is that these environments are not just a business solution. They offer a real opportunity to open up access to real live knowledge and expertise for all.