Traditional media businesses are increasingly taking their brands into live events – whether big consumer shows at the NEC or niche conferences. But this requires a whole new set of skills to acquire. I recently brought together a group of events organisers and publishers who are making print, events and digital work together – they are the speakers for the events session at the Specialist Media Show on 25 May at Exec Peterborough. Here are some of the insights from Trevor Foley of tfconnect, Claire Jenkinson of RBI conferences, Peter Harris of Centaur, Mark Elliott of Time Out and Andrew Mercer of Exec Peterborough.
1. Live is still memorable in a digital world
In spite of technology, people learn and make personal connections more easily face to face. The collective experience of a live event is hard to replicate online. Cementing business relationships, or building a reputation as an expert is much easier in a live environment. Trevor Foley has seen plenty of ways for organisers to make a live event memorable – on a budget.
2. Focus on the visitor
Creating a smooth, enjoyable experience for the visitor is the key to a great event, believes Andrew Mercer, who has launched several niche shows at East of England. Building in a competition that means the visitors provide part of the content has proved a successful strategy. Obsession with detail and getting the flow of the day right for your visitors is critical to a successful event.
3. Balance editorial judgement and events knowhow
Editorial insight was core to Time Out’s decision to launch comedy and music events in its own right. And editors have a good feel for their audiences and excellent contacts with the “stars” in their market. Grand Designs Live was originally conceived as a magazine structure. But editorial flair needs to be tempered with events expertise, especially in conferences – RBI have a dedicated conference production team who collaborate with market editors.
4. Build on loyal reader relationships
Magazines and online publications develop strong reader relationships, and this provides a great channel to market events. Time Out principally used email marketing to its registered user base to fill its comedy events. In b2b markets, enabling experts and readers to meet and swap ideas in a live environment is highly valuable.
5. Integrate with print and digital
In a market, print, events and digital teams need to work together, to maximise cross-promotion, identify new commercial opportunities, and make the most of each medium. Events create great content, which can be amplified in print and online. Centaur’s Homebuilding portfolio, with magazines, regional events and websites, has focussed on the teams working closely together to maximise these benefits.
To hear more insights from tfconnect, RBI, Time Out, Centaur and East of England, and have a chance to question these speakers directly, come along to the Specialist Media Show on 25 May at Exec Peterborough. Find out more about the conference programme, covering digital media, social media and databases, commercial partnerships, and the future of specialist media, and book your conference place.
About the author: Carolyn Morgan runs Penmaen Media, a consultancy creating practical digital media and marketing strategies, with a particular expertise with media businesses. Clients include Guardian, RHS, CDS Global, Archant, CIOnet, Eye Magazine and ABC. Carolyn is also content director for the Specialist Media Show, responsible for the conference and workshop programmes. If you’d like to discuss how to develop events and digital for your media business, just contact Penmaen Media for an initial conversation.