In this episode, we’re talking with Jessica Heasley, Group Editor and Publisher of Event Marketer about the future of the live events industry. This conversation was a fresh breeze of optimism, like drinking a tall cool glass of lemonade while driving with the top down, and enjoying a sunset. So hit the download button, screw your headphones on tight, and get ready to take notes.
Jessica Heasley is the Group Editor & Publisher for Event Marketer’s Brand Activation Group, overseeing the Event Marketer and Chief Marketer brands. She’s an award-winning writer, editor and copywriter and has been published in Psychology Today, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and dozens more newspapers around the country.
Hosted and Written by Jeremy Dobrish
Produced by Bethany Potter
Theme Music by Mike Mancini
Logo design by Shraddha Maharjan
Special thanks to Dossie McCraw
A WELL REASONED BURST OF OPTIMISM
By Jeremy Dobrish
When the pandemic hit in March, 2020 I worried. What would live corporate events look like in a world where people can’t be in the same room together? Looking back, we know that virtual events took over and brands pivoted, adapted, and found ways to keep communicating their messaging to their audiences. Now, as things begin to open up again, what will live events look like?
I can’t think of a better person to discuss that with than Jessica Heasley, Group Editor and Publisher at Event Marketer. Jessica had recently finished up this year’s live Event Marketer Summit and when I asked her how it went, she dropped a bombshell:
“60% of our attendees this year were net new to EMS”
She attributed this surprising statistic to the “interest in being part of something that's going to be really huge when it does eventually get back on track.”
She also said she’s seeing a lot of cooperation and collaboration among agencies these days:
“Everyone is competing with one another, but there is a sense that if one of us or one of you does well it elevates the industry as a whole.”
She stressed that the pandemic has been an important time for the industry to “pause, reflect, rethink.” Which is leading to “smarter decisions, more strategically sound decisions, more ROI focused decisions”.
Jessica is filled with optimism for where this industry is headed as we come out of the pandemic:
“This industry is going to come out of it stronger as it did after the recession. The recession of 2009 was a financial downturn that impacted the industry in one way. Now we're dealing with a health and safety necessity that kind of forced us into a different kind of thing.”
She sited Oracle and Cisco as two brands who are pivoting to hybrid in successful ways, and talked about how FX created a really innovative virtual experience for Comic-Con.
In order to make these experiences work, Jessica believes you have to understand that:
“The virtual or the digital experience is not the live experience in any way, shape or form. So anybody that attempted to pick up their live event and drop it into a virtual platform was sorely disappointed when that didn't work out.”
She went even further in terms of how you have to treat live and virtual experiences differently:
“We want to have an entirely different strategic structure, a different strategic approach, a different methodology, maybe even a different philosophy about how you're going to approach what this virtual or digital experience looks like.”
I couldn’t agree more!
It was really inspiring to hear how optimistic Jessica is about how things are going:
“These shows are just turning out record numbers right now, and they're being held safely and there are not cancellations. When we spoke to many of our sponsors and exhibitors after the show they were telling us that their business is taking off.”
EMS will be back April 27th at the MGM Grand to celebrate their 20th year. It’s a great event to attend!
I left my conversation with Jessica energized and filled with hope. If you could use a well-reasoned, thoroughly thought through burst of optimism, check out the full episode.