How to Stay Relevant

Experts say keep pace with trends, but remember ‘authenticity is key to engaging meaningfully with your audiences.’

By Jack Carter, Untangled

Kim Myhre

Building a connection with an audience is arguably as complex today as it ever has been. With the increased diversity of the modern workplace, event planners have to ensure their internal events strategy engages with a demanding and diverse range of demographics. “At one event, there can be four generations: baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z in the same room,” said Kim Myhre, managing director, MCI Experience. “Tailoring and personalising the content and experience will require a much more attendee-centric event-planning approach.”

External campaigns can be just as tricky. Tapping into popular culture and the latest viral trends are sure-fire ways to form meaningful conversations between a brand and its audience. However, keeping pace with popular culture when it moves at such a relentless pace is a challenge that event planners and marketers are continually faced with. “There is pressure to move at the speed of culture, to stand out from the crowd, but also to avoid disasters,” said Stacey Zhang, senior associate strategist, Jack Morton Worldwide. “Modern brands can no longer afford to be passive spectators. You’re either part of the culture, or you’re out of their lives.”

Stacey Zhang

Knowing your audience, according to Myhre, means knowing where they “hang out” in the digital space, where they get their information from, and what’s important to them. “Empathetic audience insight will be a key to better event design, and will help to keep the brand relevant and current, whilst ensuring the experience is personalised and addresses the issues or topics that matter most to the attendees.”

Social media has become the essential tool to help event planners — or anyone working within the marketing sphere — keep engaged with popular culture.

“We all know the power of word-of-mouth,” Zhang said. “In this digital age, that takes place on social media platforms.

Such conversations aren’t exclusive to social media and it is said that the most meaningful connections are made in a live environment.

Natalie Ackerman

“Supporting cultural events, dates, or trends in some way is a way for brands to show their commitment — not just to their consumers but also to strengthen their employee engagement,” said Natalie Ackerman, EVP Greater China, Jack Morton Worldwide. However, joining in on the conversation during events can just as easily be seen as a cynical attempt to feign support for an important cultural movement in the name of self-promotion.

Myhre said he believes that while keeping up with popular culture can undoubtedly lead to more meaningful conversations with audiences, the messaging must always be relevant to the brand and an event.

“Real insight and authenticity is key to engaging meaningfully with your audiences. Just because something is trending or popular does not mean that it should be included by default if it does not add value to your event audience or your brand.”

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