The theme of the 2017 World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos was ‘responsive leadership’. But how can business leaders demonstrate responsive leadership in the way that they communicate in a world of alternative facts and geopolitical shifts?

Move above the mediocre

With the fire-hose of information available today, we’re all drowning in a sea of mediocre thinking; never has there been such an opportunity for high quality insight to cut through.

If you are proud of your organisation’s knowledge, expertise and thinking then now is the time to start telling the story yourself, and have confidence in how you deliver those messages.

‘You’ can be your own news team; your executives, innovators and staff can be the stars of your own narratives. Search engines, curators, re-publishers, platform owners – and audiences – are craving clever, unadulterated insight and thinking. This gives brands, organisations, companies the opportunity to own the narrative around their area of expertise – or at least to play a major part in shaping that narrative and how it lands with audiences.

So how should leaders respond?

1. Communicate authentically

Firstly, it’s not enough to throw in references to #liveauthentic – your organisation must live and breathe your ethos and values, backing words up with action. Build trust with stories that resonate with your target audiences and grow a conversation with evidence of your openness. You no longer need the filter of a journalist or publisher to give credibility to your message – but you do need to be open about what you do and how you do it.

 

2. Tell people what they want to hear

That’s not a literal request, more it’s about focusing on the pain points of your audience. This is Comms 101; what’s the problem your audience has to solve and how can you add value to that debate, challenge or conundrum? Many people are frustrated because no-one is listening to them.

 

3. Be brave

Those brands who are brash and honest about their activity risk direct engagement and criticism, but they also earn the right to have a voice in our fast-changing world on the platforms where much of the discussion and debate is raging. Bring transparency to your actions, knowledge and experience.

 

4. Be prepared to listen

It’s also worth remembering that social media should not merely be seen as a tool for promotion but as a tool for discussion. Many companies are still hesitant to have a real discussion with their customers. The fear is they aren’t in control of the message or that it opens the door to negative comments. And the reality is that’s almost certainly the case.

However, by dealing with any criticism in an open and honest way and amending corporate practices as a direct result, you can win the hearts and minds of existing and new customers.

 

5. Tell the wider story

Every organisation has a story to tell, but not all organisations viagra online arizona have found their storytelling mojo. Begin with the subject areas and insights that will pique the interest of your audiences, your clients or future clients. Don’t choose the didactic or the obvious and don’t just focus on your present offering – instead believe that you have earned the right to talk to them on a wider set of issues, tangential perhaps to your core business, but nonetheless relevant.

Think ahead and discuss where the industry is heading and offer opinions. Find and uncover your own corporate stories, that give an added dimension or some evidence to your corporate mantra or maxim. And enable your staff to tell their own stories to make it more authentic.

 

6. Take the long-term view

Don’t expect instant results. A positive reputation is built over a period of time (even if it can be lost in an instant). It requires patience and the willingness to think beyond quarterly targets or reporting, or the occasional criticism or negative headline. Instead strong leaders need to set out their long-term vision and encourage staff to go on the journey with them.

 

7. Take the message direct to your audience

In a world of ‘alternative facts’ there is a space for brands to cut through with their own thinking on those subjects where they have insight and knowledge. Social media platforms, bespoke online channels, targeted outreach, direct engagement – all of these allow brands to deliver information straight to the door of their target audience, with no interference or additional layer of publishing context.

 

8. Compartmentalise your audiences

Channelization – creating bespoke, quality content for a range of different audiences – is already eminently possible, if not a little labour intensive, but it will become ever more straightforward to achieve as AI and intelligent tools become ubiquitous. The ‘long tail’ of information can be delivered direct to the audience, however you want to cut it.

All of this requires strong leadership. For some companies, authentic storytelling comes naturally. For many others, it’s still safer to let others speak on their behalf. There’s no doubt that it requires bravery to enter into a genuine debate with your stakeholders; but there’s never been a better time to do so. And the prize is worth it.

We are all looking for credible and authentic voices on which to base our opinions and decisions. By being more inclusive, more open and more responsive, companies can reach their audiences in new ways and change the nature of their relationships with them for the better.

 

Gay Flashman is the Founder and CEO of Formative Content.

You can follow Gay on Twitter: @g_flashman

Formative Content is a UK based content marketing agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients around the world.

For an event to be credible, it must have regular blog content and social media postings. That is the opinion of the absolutely overwhelming majority – 97% – of people who have attended a business event in the last two years.

The finding is from a survey commissioned by Formative Content for its new report: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital.

Rapid change

The report polled event organisers and attendees to gauge opinion on what is experienced and expected in the industry and how organisers are responding to rapidly changing demands.

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The flip said of the 97% figure, of course, is that only 3% of those who have been to events would regard an event as credible if it did not have digital content. It is a stark demonstration of how mobile devices and digital content have become a central part of the event experience.

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Source: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, Formative Content

Information expectation

The central role of online content was highlighted by the fact that the majority of people who attended events said they used the events online presence as their main source of information ahead of and during the event.

Source: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, Formative Content

Source: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, Formative Content

The report shows what a challenging time it is to be running events, with a fragmented media market and multiple, rapidly evolving technologies. But it concludes that with an informed content strategy, there are unique opportunities to too.

“For innovative, dynamic organisations, this is also a time of almost limitless possibilities. With strategic thinking, audiences can be engaged like never before. Credible, authentic and democratic involvement fosters interest and loyalty and helps build a brand that can endure and expand.”

The study sets out the need for a Digital Action Plan to engage and inform event customers before, during and after events and shows how events can evolve to become a year-round brand.

Find out more in the report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital. Enter your name and email address to download your copy.

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Formative Content’s team of experienced journalists and marketers will help you build the reputation of your brand. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. office@formativecontent.com Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687

Keith Breene is a Senior Writer at Formative Content, specialising in the creation of first class live reporting, blog writing and film making. Formative Content is a UK based content marketing agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients around the world.

Formative Content is a UK based communications agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients.

The many challenges facing event organisers have been highlighted by a unique survey into the industry commissioned for a new report The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, from Formative Content.

As the ways in which people network and consume information continue to evolve and proliferate, over a third of event organisers believe that industry needs to adapt to reflect a hyper-connected world.

While 56% think events have a secure future, 35% believe their survival is contingent on significant change.

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The report examines the challenges and opportunities presented as the industry tries to invent new ways to engage and leverage digital without threatening the very reasons audiences attend live events.

The survey shows what organisers are now expected to provide, with a decisive 97% of event attendees saying an online presence was vital if the event was to have credibility.

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Source: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, Formative Content

As time constraints grow and budgets are tightened, the competition for event audiences is growing, notes the report. Audiences are being bombarded with huge volumes of information via multiple platforms presenting both a product and a marketing challenge.

So how do event organisers respond to these challenges? The answer is carefully tailored digital engagement: a Digital Action Plan.

By developing content for use before, during and after a meeting, the event gains resonance and reach while its impact is amplified and extended.

Find out more in the report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital. Enter your name and email address to download your copy.

[jumplead_form id=”57f3c2f16726daf16b8b459c”]

Formative Content’s team of experienced journalists and marketers will help you build the reputation of your brand. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. office@formativecontent.com Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687

Keith Breene is a Senior Writer at Formative Content, specialising in the creation of first class live reporting, blog writing and film making. Formative Content is a UK based content marketing agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients around the world.

Formative Content is a UK based communications agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients.

Events are undergoing a profound change, transformed by digital technologies and content like so many other industries. But what does the future really hold, and how can events professionals harness the opportunities presented by these dramatic shifts?

These were the questions we set out to answer at an event in London this morning, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, to coincide with the release of our report of the same name. The session was moderated by Formative Content CEO Gay Flashman with presentations from Jazmin Beale from Olympia London, Una O’Sullivan of KPMG, Lucy Eldred from KNect365 and Joe Edwards of Sage.

One of the key questions surrounding digital content for events is – if you put all of your event content online, won’t delegates be less likely to actually attend?  It’s a moot point, according to Joe Edwards, a comms industry veteran. Whilst the digital toolkit now available to event organisers is the most varied it has ever been, there is still one central purpose of holding an event and that is to network, he said: “People talk about ROI and leads, but one of the most important part of events is connecting people together face to face.”

It was an attitude shared by Una O’Sullivan, who runs a biannual internal KPMG event: “A conference is a social event,” she said. “It’s about getting people talking together.”

Indeed, research conducted by Formative Content for our report shows that almost 50% of those that attend events do so predominantly for the networking opportunities that the event presents.

The key challenges

But of course, you still have to get people to the event in the first place. This was one of the enduring challenges for organisers, according to Jazmin Beale.  Jazmin was perfectly placed to outline the problems faced, given that she stewards 220 events every year at Olympia London, with a combined footfall of over 1.5 million.

The main challenges were threefold, she said. Firstly, driving revenue by getting people to the conferences and getting exhibitors to hire stands; secondly, maintaining the quality and quantity of attendees: “Like any party, the people who attend contribute greatly to the event experience,” she said; and thirdly, the realisation that digital engagement throughout the year encourages repeat attendance and word of mouth referral, and is therefore key to any event.

“Many leading shows are on the journey to become a brand in their own right, and are engaging their industry with great content,” she said.

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How to make digital content work

How are events making digital content work for them? Joe Edwards thinks that organising social media at events is a bit like herding cats, but, that said, it can be done very effectively.

“The most important thing for social, when looking at events: it’s all about increasing awareness – and that has to be emotive, exciting and engaging,” he said. “If I see another video of people walking through doors and vox pops saying how great the conference is, I will shoot myself,” he promised. “It’s got to be done differently.”

Among the more inventive methods Joe said he has used was demonstrating the Internet of Things by having delegates send a tweet with a hashtag and a particular number in order to switch on a lightbulb. The key was to “connect the message of the event to some sort of activation idea within the event,” he said.

Lucy Eldred’s KNect365 Finance runs 48 events under 13 different brands every year, and also tries inventive ways to engage the audience. She tries to make her content stand out with a Graham Norton-style chat show for one of their key annual events, the FundForum Asia.

“We try to do content that speaks to people as people,” she explained. “We do a daily livestream chat show, like Graham Norton for the Asset Management community, and it is relatively entertaining given how dry the subject matter is. We send it out immediately to our global audience and it’s a way of them accessing the content of the event in an engaging way.”

Joe Edwards recommends implementing a social command centre at events, with social media managers dedicated to pushing content outside of the physical event. “They can identify and direct conversations; they can promote questions and promote engagement while the talk is going on. The command centre can also manage the live feed with photos, vox pops, and videos, as well as moderating the social conversation around the event.”

Una O’Sullivan also makes great use of video and pictures, “We have a video booth where we get people talking together, and it shows that we are a collaborative organisation.”

Living beyond the moment

But perhaps the biggest take-away of the event was the importance of maintaining that audience engagement across the year.

Una O’Sullivan faces this challenge in mobilising internal engagement at KPMG. She runs a bi-annual gathering of 200 – 250 financial services leaders within the organisation, which serves as an opportunity for financial services leadership to set out their strategy and gather inputs from partners at the coalface. The most valuable part is getting that information and knowledge to cascade down the organisation, as she explained:

“There is very much a before, during and after,” she said. “The purpose of the conference’s digital output is to firstly, help the delegates get the most out of the conference by preparing them; secondly, to capture the news and the conversation at the event, but thirdly, and by far the most importantly, for the delegates to be able to take the information back and cascade it. There are some really important messages that can be taken back to member firms, global account teams, and of course to the clients.”

Among Una’s box of tricks is a well-designed message from KPMG’s global chairman, which is sent out pre-event to the delegates, summarising the purpose of their attendance and imparting relevant information. Then there are daily updates sent to delegates, as well as a wrap up of the day’s discussions. There is a global news site which enjoys very good engagement and which, for the week of the conference, is full of stories from the event.

Finally, there is a toolkit produced at the end of the event, which is sent out to every member of the financial services team – some 30,000 people.

“Content is so much more than telling people what happened at the event, it’s a year-round process,” agreed Lucy Eldred. “If you can get them to engage at the time of the conference and come to you because of the insightful information that you are providing, then you can continue to provide that content year round and become a source of insight for your prospective conference-goers.”

The future is bright

According to the research conducted by Formative Content, over 90% of event organisers believe the industry has a secure future – but only if it embraces full-time digital communication.

“In an increasingly digital world, events bring communities together – face to face,” said Jazmin. “They share a common belief, a passion or hobby, through a shared industry or as part of a local, national or international community.  Events make things happen.  They ignite ideas and knowledge.  They progress education and understanding.  They create and enrich the communities they serve.  They bring investment to the country and local communities.”

Find out more in the report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital. Enter your name and email address to download your copy.

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Formative Content’s team of experienced journalists and marketers will help you build the reputation of your brand. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. office@formativecontent.com Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687

Alex Gray is a Senior Writer at Formative Content responsible for writing fast-turnaround, engaging blogs on a variety of topics and industries.

Formative Content is a UK based communications agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients.

Hashtags are an important feature of any social media strategy.  According to research by Twitter, tweets with one or more hashtags can increase engagement by almost 100%.

It’s easy to see why skilful use of hashtags can raise the awareness and the visibility of your events.

Having a hashtag for your event is useful from a content marketing standpoint. But it is also useful for social media analytics and metrics, because it centralises all the online discussion about your event.

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So how do you choose an event hashtag?

Example of a successful event hashtag:

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the games industry’s biggest exhibition simply used the hashtag #E32016 for this year’s event – simple, unique, memorable and relevant.

This tweet with a photo and just the hashtag for text got over 100 shares.

When and where should I start using my event hashtag?

You should be using your event’s hashtag in the build-up to the event, during it, and in the aftermath.

Your hashtag should be included in all social promotions of your event, especially on twitter. Create your hashtag as soon as possible to get the social buzz going. Promote your hashtag and include it on all your promotional materials and comms.

Twitter’s research also shows that posting a concentrated number of Tweets in a short timespan can increase follower growth 50% more than average.

This means live-tweeting and posting updates about an event using your hashtag is a simple way to grow followers and increase interaction on social media.

After the event, writing digital thank you cards for your attendees is a good way to keep the conversation going – so make sure you are using your hashtag there too!

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Formative Content’s team of experienced journalists and marketers will help you build the reputation of your brand. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. office@formativecontent.com Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687

Adam Shirley is a Content Producer at Formative Content and specialises in digital content and writing for social media.

Formative Content is a UK based communications agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients.