In the first in a new series of guest blogs from our exclusive agency leaders club, nineteen, Sledge Managing Director Sarah Yeats states that there’s immense power in collaboration, and the event industry needs to do more of it…
The event industry is both large and varied – there are many agencies and internal brand teams that work within it, but what makes the sector so unique is that no two of our offerings are exactly the same.
And while we might specialise in different event types, work within specific sectors, or for certain brands, in most cases the learnings we take away from the experiences we create for our clients can be applied to the wider industry.
Likewise, from a non-project focused perspective – whether it’s a new sustainability process an agency has launched, or recruitment initiative a team is leveraging to recruit and retain young talent – our businesses and the industry at large can reap the benefits of regular, open knowledge sharing.
So why aren’t we doing more of it? Below are just a handful of ways we can collaborate with our industry colleagues and peers.
Adopt a tiered approach to industry-wide initiatives
I’m grateful for the initiatives led by some of the larger agencies in our space that are designed to propel the sector forward. I do wonder, though, if we can make them more collaborative, by inviting agencies and internal event teams of all sizes, locations and specialisms to get involved.
We could also develop contribution tiers based on an agency’s size or capacity. Forward thinking small to mid-sized agencies, for example, don’t have as many resources – both in terms of the manpower and the financials – as their larger counterparts, and it’s one of the key reasons we don’t see them involved in industry initiatives to the same degree.
A tiered time and investment approach would enable all companies to contribute in one way or another, and it would benefit our industry overall, as the more voices we hear from, the more information sharing and, inevitably, learning there is.
Develop inclusive formalised programmes and frameworks, and more of them
While we do have some industry-wide programmes and frameworks in place, there are also many similar initiatives and events circulating within the industry. We’re stronger together, so why not join forces on them, or get all facets of the sector involved?
Isla, for example, is a fabulous sustainability framework for the industry, but could more be done to include those that are represented by associations such as the AEO and ESSA, too? This could then allow us to benchmark every single type of event, create an industry gold standard, gain recognition from the government, and most importantly, minimise our environmental impact.
From a recruitment perspective, there’s also value in developing a formalised programme that allows school and university aged students to get a true feel for the industry, by working at member agencies of different sizes, specialisms, locations, and within client-side event teams throughout a calendar year.
Learning from junior, mid-level and senior employees at participating businesses, this approach would ensure students gain a broad range of exposure, develop an understanding about where their event careers could take them, remove any preconceptions about working in the industry, and ensure we recruit the best talent for the sector.
We can continue our commitment to this with new and existing employees too, through developing industry-wide courses, certifications and standards that allow them to continuously up skill, and by hosting regular educational sessions at our different businesses. They could be open to anyone, so long as they work within the industry.
Host and engage in networking, mentoring and open forums
We all lead busy lives, however there’s so much value in dedicating even half an hour per week to connecting with or furthering the sector.
This might be through hosting a coffee catch up with a school or university aged student who is interested in events, attending an industry networking event or awards do, or joining regular industry focused discussion sessions, such as the monthly calls the team at micebook have been hosting throughout the pandemic. These settings allow for genuine open discussion, the sharing of anecdotal experiences, and strategies and tactics we can apply to our businesses.
While many of us may have had more time to commit to elevating and future-proofing the industry while in lockdown, now that we’re back to doing what we know and love, let’s strive to maintain this focus, proactively seek out ways to be more collaborative, and elevate our craft in the process.