On Feb. 22, mdg hosted a virtual Executive Roundtable to explore the behind-the-scenes marketing and production for CES 2022, held in person Jan 7-10 — during the height of the Omicron outbreak — at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes, mdg president and chief marketing strategist, moderated the roundtable conversation with CTA President and CEO President Gary Shapiro, SVP of Marketing and Communications Jean Foster, and CES EVP Karen Chupka. Shortly after the online session, (the recording can be accessed here), Hardcastle-Geddes provided the following highlights for participants, gleaned from the challenges CTA faced in the lead-up to and execution of the event:
- Filter out the noise. The loudest voices are not often the majority. Take a holistic view of the conversations going on and focus on the ones that matter. What does the majority of your audience think/want?
- Take control of the narrative. You may not be able to prevent all bad press, but you can take a proactive approach to press relations. Reach out to the media outlets that matter most to discuss and help shape the story. Communicate openly, honestly and directly with your exhibitors, speakers, attendees, etc. as a way of building their confidence and trust. Don’t be afraid to embrace the reality of the challenges you’re facing.
- Be agile. Prepare to pivot as needed to make your event happen. Have backup plans for virtual speakers if any in-person ones drop out; create lounges or other interesting spaces or experiences for empty booths; be ready to fulfill last-minute and same-day requests as much as possible. Consider creative campaigns that have “legs” so that you can adapt them as appropriate to reflect any unexpected changes.
- Overcommunicate. Have all necessary information cleanly presented on your website with a “last updated” date. Ensure all of your channels have the same message. Break longer communications down into bite-sized pieces or series.
- Work with your host city. Have a plan and space if people need to quarantine; ensure that hotels and venues are updating their policies and have them clearly posted on the website. Maintain a good relationship, keep an open line of communication, and consider how else you could partner with hotels, venues and cities to provide the best experience for attendees.