After another year of disruption, members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2022 are proof positive that adaptability is a requisite skill for business events industry professionals. Brooke Wilson, CMP, experience design manager at 360 Live Media in Washington, D.C., talks about the skills she has pursued in this time of change.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from someone in the industry?
A colleague once taught me their 80/20 rule — don’t spend 80 percent of your time and effort on something that will only affect 20 percent of the end product. I have to remind myself of this rule when I feel my perfectionist tendencies kicking in.
What has this time of disruption taught you about the industry — and yourself?
I’ve learned how valuable and powerful it is to be authentic. The past two years have been some of the most difficult, trying times in many of our lives, and we are all doing our best. Because of that, the business events industry has been more accepting of mistakes and encouraged us all to take chances.
How do you see the industry changing as a result of the pandemic?
I believe events are changing in a similar way to how the workplace has been changing — shifting to a more flexible and individualized model. Prior to the pandemic, events followed a linear path. Attendees had to fit their schedules into that path and do their best to get the most ROI out of what was offered. Now we know we can access content wherever and whenever we want. We can connect with people across the globe without ever meeting them in person. We can attend, speak at, and exhibit at an event without ever being there physically. As we return to in-person events and move the industry forward, I think there is going to be a new demand for better event-life balance.
What new skills has the pandemic led you to pursue?
I’ve been increasingly interested in learning about human motivations and why people do what they do, so I’ve been developing my interviewing and audience research skills. The pandemic made us all rethink how we value and spend our time and many of us have made changes to our behavior as a result. The better I can understand why someone decides to attend an event, the better I can design an experience that will not only accomplish what they’re looking for, but introduce new solutions they didn’t know were possible. By asking the right questions in the right formats, you can learn a lot about what people are looking for. Then it gets exciting when you start to see patterns across different audiences and patterns with the quantitative data. It’s fascinating.